It’s Thursday, which means I’m in crunch time for this weekend’s yard sale; a sale I have been planning now for about three weeks and have single-handedly managed to do most of the work for, all while caring for a deranged toddler in tantrum hell. This isn’t to say that the husband isn’t helping, but he’s more the heavy lifting part of this whole thing. I’m the brains behind the operation. I’m the one pricing, organizing, promoting and planning and he’s the one tasked with moving stuff out of the garage, cleaning up his sellable tools and going through his many, many storage areas to (hopefully) get rid of all the crap he’s been holding onto since before we got together and doesn’t actually need. I suspect the thought of making money off of this stuff is what is motivating him, but hey, I’ll take what I can get.
But in planning and organizing and promoting the hell out of this sale, I’ve come to a very disturbing realization; I’m utilizing practically EVERY skill I ever learned as a retail sales manager, associate, and marketer. In fact, I am beginning to see a lot of similarities between what I’ve taken on, and the hell that was my existence when I was still working in that field.
1) Dealing with ‘special’ customers. Turns out that the same stupid people who came into my stores also shop yard sales in much the same way. Since posting my ad online I have received emails from people who just don’t get the point of a yard sale.
“What stuff are you selling? How much? Can I just come get it NOW, a week before you have the sale? Can I tell you what I’m looking for, see if you have it, have you take pictures of the items I want to buy and then put them on reserve for me to decide whether or not I’m going to pick them up at my convenience?” No! No! NOOOOOOO!
First of all, I have been trying to move this stuff for months on Bidding Wars and I am DONE reserving shit for people. I’m tired of waiting around all day or all week for the buyer to show up and buy the item they bid on and said they were going to pick up. I’m tired of that shit still sitting in my house for their no-show new owner. That’s why I’m having a fucking yard sale, assholes! You show up when the sale is on, buy the crap and LEAVE with it. If I wanted to reserve crap I’d go back to selling online.
2) Merchandising. This is actually something I enjoy doing, since I like to organize stuff on shelves and tidy displays. Turns out it’s also a valuable yard sale tool, since setting up an attractive shopping area is more inviting to people than just tossing shit in boxes and having them dig through it.
3) Liquidation. We’re slashing prices, tossing in BOGO deals and aren’t afraid to haggle to get stuff gone. Everything must go! It’s like all those inventory and sidewalk sales that sucked ass because EVERYTHING had to be marked down in the store in the span of a week, or even more likely, a few days.
4) Atmosphere. Nobody likes a quiet shopping experience so it’s time to break out the music and put on our smiley faces to greet the customers. We want them to buy the shit we’re selling, after all. I also don’t get to pick the music, because the husband has to listen to it too, and HE wants his country radio station.
5) Lying…er, I mean ‘selling’. Why of course this item is worth that price, but hey, if it’s too much I’ll give you a special discount on it. Because I totally didn’t mark up the prices on purpose just so you’d be willing to pay a little more than I’m actually okay with selling it for. You know, because I really just want it gone and would give it to you for free if it wasn’t for the fact that I’m pretty sure you’ll pay me for it if we do this dance long enough for you to think you’re getting a deal.
6) Store hours. Just like when I was working retail I don’t get paid to cater to assholes before or after store closing. So unless you’re willing to pay triple the price, GTFO of here with your sense of entitlement. No, just because you showed up before opening, just after closing does not give you the right to expect service. You are not special. You are only special if you pay the special, overpriced VIA (very important asshole) fee. THEN maybe I will help you.
7) Opening/Closing. Also just like in retail, setup and takedown is likely to take at least an hour before and after the sale. This is time I don’t make money. Again, see #6.
8) All sales FINAL! Fuck returns! Fuck them all to hell! They are the bane of a retail salesperson’s existence and thankfully I can give returning shit the middle finger because YARD SALE. This should be a no-brainer, but apparently now I’m going to have to post an All Sales Final sign because #1.
9) Stupid Customers. These are possibly on the same level of aggravation as the ‘special’ customers, but without the extra sense of entitlement. The stupid customers usually ask “how much for this?” When the sales tag is clearly visible. Is there a discount? Duh, it’s a fucking yard sale and I have a big sign that says prices are negotiable. As for what time we open/close, again, the fucking signs directing you to the sale and that were posted online should tell you that.
10) Customers who ask ‘pertinent’ questions. “Is this real leather?” While holding a cheap vinyl handbag. “Is this made in China?” Assume it is. Everything is made in fucking China. Can this bag hold X number of books/take a lot of wear and not rip? It’s $20. What do YOU think?
11) A To-Do List to rival the Daily Action Plans. Anyone in retail knows about the Action Plan. It’s a list of tasks that have to be done in addition to selling, to be delegated as needed. I LOATHED the action plan, because there was always that one task that nobody wanted to do and they’d bitch if it fell on them to do it. I also hated it on days that were super busy, because seriously, who has time to do a 3-hour task that is meticulous when you’re the only one in the store and people keep coming in to mess it up. I’m looking at YOU, backpack wall during Back to School shopping season!
And sadly, just like when I was a store manager, most of these tasks fall on ME. Because my husband sure doesn’t have “time” to do them after work, even when he assures me that he’ll get them done “either today or tomorrow”. So the DVDs and VHS we were supposed to go through together? I did it (and he pouted because even though he procrastinated on actually doing it with me and I was in “crunch time” yesterday, he still felt that was something I should have waited to do). The signs on the street corners to direct people to the sale and let them know it exists? Again, that fell to me. Hell, I’m even tempted to start clearing out the garage as much as I can just so that he has less to do, because his to-do list is still quite long and he spent most of his time after work these past few nights catching up on Netflix and the PVR!
Oh, and if you replace customers during these tasks with a toddler, then you’ve got the same level of urgency and futility of these tasks, too. Because trying to go through a bunch of DVDs and VHS tapes, price them and store them with a toddler around…yeah, that was fun.
And I STILL have to decorate the cookies for the sale, because somehow the big bag of icing sugar in the pantry has disappeared and I need to get more, but I have to wait until we head to Walmart later this evening because we have to pick up the sno cone syrups anyway (because the husband got the idea to sell sno cones too). So I have to frost all these cookies TOMORROW, all the while preparing for launch Saturday morning.
Basically I’m the store manager again and my husband is that one employee who calls in “sick” or doesn’t do half of what he was supposed to because he was “busy” and my son does a very good impersonation of the customers who thought it was “no big deal” to mess up all the shit in the store and ask me a million pointless questions, then yell at me when I can’t solve their problem fast enough for them.
I have come to the conclusion that the only difference between a yard sale and the hell that is retail is that I’m selling my own crap instead of someone else’s, AND that all profits go to me…well, at least until my husband asks for his share even though I’m the one who did most of the work and he’s just providing the venue and merchandise. So yeah, it’s exactly like retail.
Why the hell am I doing this again? Oh, right, because it’s the only way to simultaneously get rid of crap we don’t need AND make some money out of it. And because as much as I hate the to-do lists and the people involved, I love to make things look pretty on display tables.