Vol. 12, No. 3,009 - The American Reporter - October 19, 2006

Monday Moron

Larry Lieberman
American Reporter Humor Writer
Tampa, Fla.

Printable version of this story

TAMPA, Fla -- In keeping with the motif of providing free advice for the American public, "Monday Moron" is happy to present its "Guide to the Successful Garage Sale," albeit on Tuesday,

There are several facets to entertaining a successful garage sale for both proprietor and patron. If you plan to remove a bunch of taking-up-space crap from your possession, much like a barium enema, preparation is vital.

Allow me to break down the aspects of a proper garage sale in its phases and offer suggestions as necessary so that you may benefit from the wisdom of a master junkman/parent.

First, you must formulate your public relations strategy. You will need to place signs, readily available at any thrift store or removable from public easements the week prior, which will instruct the vehicular-mobile public with alerts and directions to your "yard sale franchise."

Anyone operating a barely-functional car or, preferably, a pick-up truck should be considered a part of your target demographic. Your motto should be that the older and more decrepit the vehicle, the better. A person driving a 1985 Ford Falcon or Dodge Ram sporting bondo is the ideal mark.

Those maneuvering a Cadillac, late-model Honda Accord or BMW should be treated as members of the "window shopping" community, as they are there to pilfer you for "bargains" only. The overwhelming majority of these folks summer in the Hamptons (or middle-class suburbs) and find scavenging through your clutter a relaxing way to reinforce their superiority. They will say things like, "My maid owns the same microwave and she said that it almost never activates her husband's pacemaker."

These people are self-important, elitist country clubbers who typically yell "timber!," instead of "fore!," because they suck at golf due to the six martini lunch and are always launching expensive golf orbs into the woods. You do not want to engage them in conversation or attempt to sell them anything, as they have the latest and greatest of everything - including cirrhosis courtesy of aged scotch, anything oversold by Barbara Streisand and a space-age toilet kit replete with bacteria-fighting, washable accessories - including monogrammed toilet paper which makes me laugh with every stroke when invited to Mitzy's Bat Mitzvah.

Your next endeavor is to create value for your saleable products. Here are a few suggestions that I am told are effective or I have created for use in this column.

I recommend you autograph all of your clothing with the names of famous actors or entertainers. Create "letters of authenticity" alleging that your furniture or accessorial items were used on the set of some famous television show's pilot episode. Coincidentally, this is why I have a pelican nightgown signed by Mrs. Roper from "Three's Company" and a dinette set inscribed in crayon by whoever played Greg Brady (can't make out the signature we invented as his career was of no assistance).

For the record, I have been informed that the Fisher Price table my son uses for sand art was the very table used for the birthing of Dwight Eisenhower. Apparently, Toys 'R Us got a hold of it on e-bay and sold it to me in 1996.

The asking price for this famous piece of history? $2.45. (We hope to get $2 flat.)

Heck, if I can get an online degree from Microsoft State, provided I have a printer and diploma-quality paper, what is wrong with saddling people with the joy of owning a piece of history/worthless crap?

In pricing your inventory, be sure to consider your H-C ratio (haul to collect). This figure is determined by calculating how much it would cost to have your products hauled away in relation to what a sane person could reasonably generate to have someone else dispose of it via sales transaction. Your goal should be to generate a positive H-C ratio once your event has reached completion.

In our case, our goal was to collect $256.75 for the weekend sale of "marketable items." This was based upon Waste Management's quote to charge $250.00 to remove everything regardless of condition. This would give us an H-C ratio of 1.027 - a Pasco County record!!!!

Keep in mind that hosting a garage sale is a selfless act. If you net more than $2 per hour for your effort alone - not considering inventory expense - you are truly a bastion of great salesmanship. When filling out my sales reports (my wife is so meticulous about these things), my reported "highlight of the week" was convincing an elderly woman that Don Quixote was a classic novel and not a euphemistic reference to a male bodily organ. As a result, I was able to upsell her to a copy of "Grapes of Wrath" and "A Catcher in the Rye" for a lucrative, yet tidy, sum of three for a $1.

I am also happy to report that all of the containers we have collected from the delivery of won-ton soup were sold as "Cupperware" at a handsome profit of $.05 per unit. (Note: Delivery tip not amortized from stated per unit profit, thus making it gross, not net).

The conclusions I have drawn from this experience?

  • Pricing, shelving and negotiating the sale of all garage sale items, as any accountant will tell you, nets you a per-unit profit approaching an amount you would not be willing to bend down to retrieve if you saw it outright on the pavement of a parking lot (no offense to the goober with the metal detector at the beach who constantly answers his own questions while wearing headphones).
  • Hiring Indonesian sweat-shop employees to operate your sale will not bolster the bottom line/experience in any way as you need the exercise and they receive better benefits than you are willing to offer (leave them for P. Diddy and Kathy Lee).
  • Blasting the theme song to "Sanford & Son" is funny, but only until someone offers you $1 each for the speakers you are using to perpetuate the comedy.

In closing, I would like to thank Brenda Benoit for her tireless effort in ensuring our garage sale's moderate failure. At least she was fun to be around.

Oh, and once again, my apologies to Brenda for selling the petty cash box for $.50 without her approval. I swear I had no idea the money we had collected was still in it when I bagged it and sold it to that lady in the Ford Fairmont.


Copyright 2006 Joe Shea The American Reporter. All Rights Reserved.

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