Friday, May 11, 2012

How to Make the Most of a Garage Sale

by Kelly

via Saving to be Rich

So garage sales season is upon us again. I have seen any number of articles on how to improve sales, but usually I skim right by them. Until, that is, I had my own garage sale, and lackluster sales convinced me that I was doing something wrong.

So here are a few of the more interesting/outrageous guidelines that I have seen, which may help you whether you're selling or buying.

1. When haggling, have your cash in your hand before you begin.
 Apparently, seeing and touching money releases endorphins, and that just might tip the balance in your favor in a totally subconscious way.
my suggestion: Next time you're going to bring up a troublesome topic with your spouse, haul out the cash. They won't suspect a thing.

2.  Play classical music at your sale.
 Classical music makes people feel more affluent, so they will spend more.
my suggestion: avoid opera unless you're trying to sell a Valkyrie helmet.

3.  Place the good stuff on the right.
Retail stores spend millions designing floor plans to maximize sales. Cash in on their research dollars by doing things the way they do. Their top secret trick? Arranging things to suit the millions of right-handed people in the world.
 my suggestion: Alternately, give up on having garage sales and convince a retail store that you are a feng shui guru. If that fails, offer classes on how to maximize the flow of chi through a yard and garage.

4.   Appeal to men.
A couple is going somewhere else, but they see your sign. The guy will agree to stop if he sees something manly (grills, power tools, chain saws) at your sale.
my suggestion : Grill food out in front of the sale and sell hamburgers and hot dogs as well. Searching for bargains is hungry work, and men are drawn to grills like flies to honey.

5.   Moving displays sell more.
Sometimes up to 317% more. (Such an exact number...there must be science involved...) Put that old record player to use by putting a jewelry stand on top of it.
my suggestion: Have your kid or spouse help with this one - teach him/her to juggle and have them perform (with non-fragile merchandise) out in front of the sale. Give them a hat to put on the ground for the obligatory 'performance art tip'. If it's a really slow sales day, set one of the juggling items on fire. Make sure the burning item isn't something valuable (see number 6 below).

6. Google it.
Not sure if that game unit is really a bargain? Send a text to Google at 466453 with the item's make and model and the words 'price' and 'used'. You'll get a list of current prices.
my suggestion for sellers: Google everything in your sale before you price it. That old Valkyrie helmet might be worth serious cash. And why do you have a Valkyrie helmet, anyway? Never mind, I probably don't want to know.

7.  Don't accept tattoos in lieu of cash.
At my sale, someone offered to tattoo me in exchange for a weight lifting set. (Yes, this is a true story. No, it's not because I live in a disreputable neighborhood. Sadly, this wasn't the strangest thing that happened at my sale.) I passed on the offer for many reasons, but mostly because the exchange rate was too difficult to figure out and I dislike haggling. That's the main problem with having a garage sale - right around the afternoon of day two, you get so tired of looking at your old stuff, and so desperate to get rid of it, that you will happily accept live chickens or monopoly money as barter if your customer doesn't have enough cash.

I hope those tips are helpful. And here's one more, just to make it an even number - for a current list of garage sales in your area, go to Ha! I worked a link in here after all!

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Wish of One Thousand Paper Cranes

by Kelly

We've been in the process of trying to build a new house for some time now. This is taking much longer than expected, since it turns out that houses are mostly made of wood...or at least, paper.

Behold just a portion of the paperwork required. To the left are the house plans. To the right are the plat survey and site plan. On the bottom are the letters that we are required to mail to our neighbors to notify them that we are building a new house, as if they didn't know this already.

In the middle are the variances we are required to file because since the house currently on our property was built they have changed the zoning regulations. These forms had to be filled out in triplicate. And notarized.

We also had to file a copy of these variance forms  with four local regulatory agencies (fire department, etc). These copies had to be sent certified mail (the receipts for that are the green slips in the center, and if you don't have all of those green slips, forget about filing your variance - that's how we got turned away last time).

Oh, and the CD's? Well, those contain a copy of the legal description of our property. Of course, they also wanted multiple paper copies of the legal description. I'm not quite sure why there has to be a CD version  as well - I suspect these required bits of almost outmoded technology are the Land Use Office's version of a Great Leap Forward.  Or maybe they're only trying to find a use for those mysterious white devices that take up so much room on their desks.

Have I mentioned that this variance process is going to cost us about $2,000.00? Pretty steep price to pay for correcting a problem we didn't even create, if you ask me.

So this is what I've been doing instead of crafting. Mind you, I had considered doing something creative, namely folding each paper in these documents into an origami crane before delivering them to the land use office, because the Japanese say that if you fold 1,000 origami cranes and then make a wish, your wish will come true. I used to think this saying was just a way for Japanese parents to keep their kids busy, but now I think this is actually an elegant analogy of the bureaucratic process that has become corrupted into a fable over time.

Maybe that's also why Japanese people use paper as a building material, as they figure they will just cut through the middle man. If it didn't rain so much around here, I might be tempted to do the same.
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