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Yard Sale Stories

yard sale stories
Part of the fun of having a yard sale (besides making money, of course) is the funny or unusual things that happen during it or meeting a particularly interesting customer or seller. Here are a few stories that people have told me about.

Becky in New York
Each year friends and acquaintances would look forward to my garage sale, held once a year in early spring. We tried to always have it early, as soon as it was warm enough. We would have a sale all together about 4-6 of us moms, calling our yardsale the "Shopaholic Mom's Sale". First and foremost, we always would have fun. Then organization. Our sale would have the best organized clothing -- kids stuff only. Each item or set would be hung the same direction on a hangar and clean and presented well. We would make sure everything was in good condition and had a price on it - listing the brand and the price and whose initials the item was from. Organization was the key. We would spend a lot of time getting ready, usually weeks ahead. Then we would put up our signs "Shopaholic Mom's sale!!!" We would have strict hours -- only open at 9 am sharp. Not before. Some years we had more than 100 people waiting at the foot of our driveway. They all knew our rules. We had this sale for a number of years, while our children were small and constantly growing out of sizes. Each year, people would bring us photos of their kids in the clothes they had bought the year before. We had a great following. We bought good stuff and priced it well for our sale. I have fond memories of these times in general, especially balancing to the penny, We would make a huge amount of profit - the gross of the day would often be $5,000-6,000 -- then this was divided between 4-6 people.

Unfortunately, as my kids started to grow up, I started to go back to work part time and that, coupled with the fact that I then decided to give away bundles of clothes to friends who could use them, instead of going through all the work for a diminishing return. Giving the clothes away made me happy, anyway.

Chris B. in Indiana
In 1996 my mother had a moving sale. During the sale, she struck up a conversation with a customer - a younger gal "Nancy" - because they had a common interest in some books she had for sale. They enjoyed their conversation so much that they exchanged phone numbers. Afterwards they became friends and got together a few times. When my mom moved into her new house she had a family cook-out and invited Nancy and introduced her to my brother. Five months later Nancy and my brother were married and that was 7 years ago!

Sharon in South Dakota
One Saturday I stopped at an elderly woman's home for a yardsale. I was the only one there at the time and we chatted a bit. I suddenly realized that most people were probably stopping in and leaving quickly, as it was a small sale. When I paid for my purchase, I stayed a few minutes and visited, it seemed to me that she was lonely. It made me think, she was probably a widow, and I really need to pay attention to other people. It's so easy to get into that "powershop" mode and zip through without actually "seeing". I left with a good feeling that I had brightened someone's day.

Jeff in Sacramento, CA
During one of my yardsales, I once had a lady comment on how nice my ground cover (clover) was in my yard. I told her I would sell her a flat of it for $5. She was ecstatic! I ran back to my garage, grabbed a shovel and a old cardboard soda flat box, and dug up a section for her. When I have a yardsale, I really have a yard sale!

Dave in Amsterdam, NY
My wife and I were on vacation in Maine during summer of 1993. We were on Route 1, and came upon several yard sales in a row. We pulled over and proceeded to the first yard sale. As you can imagine, there was a flock of people. An older man (probably in his 60's) was the owner of the junk, and nobody appeared to be buying his stuff. Well, as we approached, this guy wanted to charge us $5 just to look at his stuff!! Needless to say, we skipped it and went to the next.

I'm a professional organizer, and one of my customers donated many items to help me out with my yard sale. A couple of hours into the sale, a man stopped by wanting to buy our truck. Our truck wasn't for sale, but we had considered selling it. He only offered about 1/2 of what it was worth, but my husband ran inside and checked the blue book value. He counter-offered, but the man said he'd check back in a couple of days to see if we changed our minds. When we have a yardsale, nothing comes back in the house afterwards. We load the stuff into the truck and take it to charity immediately. So at the end of our sale, we loaded the truck with the yardsale leftovers and was getting ready to donate the stuff. At that moment, the man shows back up with cash in hand. We didn't need the truck and were tired of paying insurance on it. The man offered us what the truck was worth, but I told him he had to take the junk too if he bought it. He never batted an eye. I don't know who got the better deal, him or us! His timing was perfect!

LaWonda in Arizona
At my yardsale, I decided to sell some of my duplicate milk glass pieces. My sale started at 6 a.m. and my first customer was a young man...in a dress, high heels and a purse. He bought all my milk glass but kept other customers away for a little while. Overall, the day was pretty productive and I made about $200!

Gail in Arizona
It was the middle of the day and there was a lull in my yard sale. Then a very ordinary looking, older guy pulls up in a beat up pick-up truck. His clothes were all paint-splattered, he said he had been house painting. He picked up a plastic magazine holder and said he needed one but didn't like the color. I jokingly told him to buy one of my many bottles of nail polish and he could re-paint it. He got a big smile on his face and told he that he had plenty of nail polish of his own!!! He then told me he was a cross-dresser and proceeded to regale me with tales of his and his former "mistress" escapades!! Since this was a little more than I had "bargained for" at my yard sale I handed him a Linda Evans book about beauty, told him it was"on the house" and gleefully sent him on his way!!

Shannon in California
I had a "yardsale" experience that I'll never forget. One day, after dropping my kids off at school, I noticed one of my neighbors had a lot of stuff out in their front yard with cars and people everywhere. I wondered why I hadn't seen any yardsale signs up at the corner. Well anyways, I wanted to find some good bargains too before everything good was gone. What happened next, I'll never forget. It wasn't actually a yardsale. It was a Police Bust! The people were undercover agents hauling the stolen property out of the house. My neighbor came out of the house in handcuffs. I was so embarrassed. Luckily I didn't ask how much the TV was.

My mom and I were visiting my grandmother and we noticed her neighbor was having a yardsale. A big box of books caught my eye. I'm a book freak so I started going through it. Most of it was the romantic slush I detest but then I spotted a book worth looking at. It was a Stephen King novel, The Shining. It was stickered at 50 cents and seemed in good shape. I didn't see anything else that interested me (I was 25 at the time and the rest of the sale had 'old lady' stuff) Mom picked up a few things and we continued our visit at Nana's. I have a short attention span, so when Mom and Nana started discussing soap opera news, I thumbed thru my new novel. I checked out which edition I now held and got a shock. It was a first edition! Of a book by an extremely popular author of one of his better stories. When I got home, I got it appraised. Despite not being in perfect shape, it still appraised at $450! I would say that's quite a good bargain, wouldn't you?

Kristin in Alabama
As I was browsing at a yard sale, a couple of dogs wandered up -- a giant chocolate lab and a husky type. When I got ready to leave with my purchases, I walked to the top of the long driveway where I had parked my car. The dogs followed me and being a dog lover, I patted the lab on the head. Then I opened my car door, and the lab started climbing up in my car! I had to balance a lamp in one arm while trying to physically PUSH this large dog out of my car. I'm sure I smelled like a dog the rest of the day! The good news is I didn't drop the lamp. (By the way, I paid $5 for it and saw just the shade for $45 at an antique mall later that day!)

FR in South Dakota
I went to a garage sale and found a HUGE box of nearly new shoes. I began trying on flats of all colors. The box must have been 3 feet across and 2 feet deep. A lady on the other side of the box was also trying on shoes. I found a very comfortable brown in my size, but I couldn't find the other shoe. I was tossing aside all sorts of shoes and searching frantically. I was just going to ask the seller what happened to the other shoe when the lady on the opposite side all of sudden came to my side of the box and said "Excuse me, can I have my shoe back?" Of course I waited until I left to laugh my head off.

Christy in Tomball, Texas
My sister and I garage sale every week so we see quite a bit. One day we spotted a garage sale sign pointing down a dirt road. Of course, we couldn't pass it up! Down the road we see an old shack of a house with the windows busted out and red biohazard trash bags covering the openings. A little further and there was another house, windows knocked out, biohazard bags covering the openings...further down the road, more houses the same way. The dirt road is so bumpy and muddy, I had a hard time driving! Sane people would have turned around and said forget it but, no not us! Finally, we reach the end and there is a garage sale. There was a couple sitting in the garage with several tables of "merchandise". Much to our surprise, each table was covered with surgical instruments! My sister commented "Someone must work at the hospital." The wife replied that she is the housekeeper in the O.R. ! There were tables and tables of USED surgical instruments! (That would also explain the biohazard bags at the other houses...I guess they were neighborly!) We abruptly left. My mother-in-law also works at the same hospital and she reported that fine lady and gentleman to the hospital security department!

That was my creepiest yardsale experience by far. But my weirdest experience was in an upscale neighborhood. The woman running the sale had all of her nighties displayed by hanging them on the fence and also had three or four tables FULL of hard-core adult videos. There were other adult items on other tables but we didn't stay and look at it all!

Ann, Somewhere USA
My daughter and I are yard sale/thrift store/bargain fanatics. Because so many people we know are freaked out by the thought that we would get things in this way (their loss), we have developed a code for our purchase locations. Anything we get at a yard sale is said to be from "the alternate shopping venue". Anything we find by the side of the road for free is from the "outdoor market". You'd be surprised how many people want to know where the "Alternate shopping venue" and "Outdoor Market" are when they see our goodies!

Mary Wallace, Kalispell, MT
Last summer I went to a multi-family yard sale at an upscale neighborhood. I found the greatest "to-go" coffee cup on one of the tables. It wasn't priced, but it was a nice stainless steel one with nifty lid. It didn't have a price on it, so I picked it up with my other purchases and carried it to the check-out table. I mentioned that the cup had no price, and the woman shrugged and said, "Fifty cents?" So I bought it. When I got home, and got the cup out to put it in the dishwasher, I noticed that there was coffee in it! I had apparently bought someone's real coffee cup! Laughing, I showed it to my son who noticed that it said 'CIA' on the side. "Well," he said, "If they are really from the CIA, they should be able to find you!"

Ann, Somewhere USA
When I was young, my father worked for a popular greeting card company. Somehow we had ended up with boxes and boxes of out-dated cards and collector plates. Each plate came in its own box. We had literally broken dozens and dozens of these plates (to get them out of the market). The best way to break them was straight over the knee and they would snap right in half. Well, one year Dad decided to throw them into our garage sale. A little old lady and her friend came and offered some ridiculously low amount for them - .25 cents I think - and Dad kept saying no, they're (whatever he had on them - maybe $1). She got quite indignant and was very persistent. Dad said, "you know, I'd rather break them than let you have them for a quarter". He then picked up a plate and broke it in half right over his knee. The look on her face when that collector plate snapped in two was priceless. She bought every plate we had for what we were asking - and there were at least 50!

Darrell in Alabama
I have been an assistant youth director for teens for about ten years and have seen lots of pranks, but this is one of my favorite. My teens agreed on who would be the "victim" from our group and on Friday evening they drove around and gathered a few junk items from each others house (old bbq grills, chairs etc...), they made yard sale signs and late that night quietly put all the junk in the yard of the "victim" and put up the yardsale signs. The next morning the early birds arrived and woke the "victim" up for business. The "victim" made $50!

Anonymous, Somewhere in the Desert, USA
We went a multi-family yardsale. At the first sale, I found a lot of exceptionally nice things, and I bought an antique print and frame. As we left and headed to the next sale, I stepped on a patch of loose gravel (lots of yards in this desert area have gravel landscaping.) My feet flew out from under me, I went airborne, and landed badly, breaking my leg and tearing ligaments in my ankle. The yard sale sellers were upset and called an ambulance. I could not believe that people coming to the sale were literally stepping over me on their way to find a bargain. I was hoping no one would step on me as I lay there prone and in agony. At the hospital, I even had to receive morphine. The yardsale sellers were relieved to learn I would be ok. At least during my fall, the framed print didn't get a dent, and the glass didn't break! Several people asked if I was going to "sue." Of course not. The homeowners had done what a prudent person would do, and it was a freak accident which could have happened to anyone. I had been planning to hold a yardsale myself, but after that experience, I've changed my mind. I'm donating the stuff. I just don't want to take a chance. We were also planning the desert style gravel landscaping for our home, and now re-thinking that. Now all over our desert town, I'm noticing loose gravel everywhere. Amazing how one yard sale can change your whole way of thinking.

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