Sunday, September 09, 2007

making the sale

Yesterday was our neighborhood garage sale, hence the reason I was out cleaning our garage on Friday.

Clutter is a pet peeve of mine and since space is a major issue at the moment - I was feeling motivated to get rid of everything the children have outgrown, except a few select clothes from William that I'm hanging on to for Henry, and one set of the girls matching outfits, in case I might ever need them again.

After our garage sale last year, wherein I sold all of the baby equipment the triplets had outgrown, I've since decided I'm not going to sell any more baby equipment until I reach menopause. Or Charlie clues in to my placebos.

Even though three months ago, I packed up and mailed a huge box of clothes to one of my cousins in South Carolina for her little girl and donated three big bags of clothes for an orphanage in Mexico, we had accumulated another five bags worth of clothes and blankets that the children have outgrown. We also have our triplet stroller that I stopped using and started to use again, only until I noticed that pushing 100+ pounds of children on four small swivel wheels was torturous.

In the past, I've handed most of the children's clothing and equipment on to people that I know. My brother and his wife have twin boys, nine months to the day younger than the triplets, so I would often pack up and mail packages to them. The rest of the equipment and clothing I would pass off to local friends or fellow triplet families.

After a while, I came to realize that the pain and suffering associated with taking several small children to the post office - coupled with the expense of shipping a 30 pound box cross country - had become prohibitive. Not to mention, by the time I got around to the post office - a few months had passed and the clothes that I was shipping would probably only fit for a short time, if they wouldn't already be too small.

Just before Henry was born, I planned to give our triplet stroller to a 19-year old woman who had given birth to spontaneous identical triplets. I was also planning to give her two of our highchairs that cost $200.00/piece.

Considering our stroller cost $900.00 new, I was feeling very generous until my mother told me that I was crazy.

Mom had been telling me that although it is good to be charitable, I shouldn't be giving everything away, if there was a potential I could get a little bit of money back. She then reminded me that there are still a lot of things that our children will need and it's not like we have a money tree growing in our back yard.

Which is really too bad, I could use one.

But mom had an excellent point. My charitable good streak really has cost us a fortune. So instead of donating the stroller AND the highchairs, I donated only the highchairs and opted to hang on to the stroller that would continue to collect dust in our garage until I could find the time to post it on Craig's List.

My mother, who grew up during the Depression, possesses a thrifty gene that skipped over me almost completely. Mom is not only the best bargain hunter I've ever met, she also doesn't waste a thing. Whereas I'll throw out oatmeal if it isn't consumed during breakfast, mom will hang on to it, for the next day.

I really admire her knack but unfortunately, have discovered I'm too lazy to clean out a Ziploc bag.

When the babies were about a year old, mom suggested that we take their used equipment and clothes to a consignment store. But there is not a single consignment shop anywhere near our home. So, during a trip to California, mom and I spent the better part of a day organizing and packing up the equivalent of two huge suitcases worth of baby clothes that she would take to a consignment shop in her hometown.

Six months later, she sent me a check for $12.00.

She also retrieved a load of clothes that didn't sell. Which she ultimately, donated to her church thrift store. It's highly likely that mom spent more money on gas driving back and forth to the consignment store - and the thrift store - than she made.

Yesterday, whatever clothing I had put out for the garage sale, I was selling for $0.50 a piece. All told, I sold eight blankets, three bibs, two dresses, two pairs of shoes, a pair of pants and a skirt. I probably would have sold more, but just as my consumer traffic was starting to pick up, Charlie came out with the trio - who immediately recognized the stuff that was scattered about the driveway and started hollering "DAT MY BLANKET!! DOZE MY SHOES!! DAT MY PANTS!!!"

The triplets then ran around and tried to collect as much stuff as they could in their little arms. When they ran up to a kindly woman who was inspecting a dress the girls had outgrown six months ago and tried to grab it from her, I insisted Charlie bring our little hellions angels back in to the house.

Several people asked about the triplet stroller, which I had rolled out in to the driveway, and which is in great condition. When mom was visiting earlier this summer, she spent an entire morning getting it cleaned up for me to sell. And I know that if I could get my act in gear, it could probably fetch somewhere between $300 and $400. You might imagine my reaction, then, when someone offered me $15.00. Fifteen dollars for my beautiful Peg Perego Triplette Stroller.

Although one day, I might end up giving it away ... yesterday, the thought of selling it for less than what a box of diapers cost, made me nauseous.

The most money that I made came from selling our used drinking glasses and a broken Harman Kardon stereo.

After spending six hours in the sun, I closed up shop.

But not before I rolled the Peg in to the garage, covered it with a bed sheet and gave away four bags of clothes to a Mexican woman who was wearing shoes that appeared to be two sizes too small. It felt better for my heart to give these clothes away to someone that I could see really needed them - then to pack them up and donate them to Goodwill.

Until I saw her walk around the corner and climb in to a Mercedes.

Once the children were down for their nap, Charlie came out to review how things had gone. I showed him that there was $23.00 in my shoe box ... but since I forgot to count the money before I started, I'm not sure how much I actually made.

It dawned on me that I could have been doing something a lot more enjoyable with my family on a beautiful Saturday, then trying to sell a $20.00 dress for $0.50. I was reminded that the effort of trying to recover even a portion of the costs in raising our children, is not worth my time.

Thus my conclusion, once again, our children are the reason we will never be the millionaires that live next door.


  1. $15 for the stroller???? I'll give you $20!!!!

  2. I'm with you: I'd rather give something away than sell it for a ridiculous price.

    Every so often we have a "free yard sale": put a bunch of stuff in the yard with a free sign. It's not worth my time to make money from it.

    When I am old and lonely and my children are resentful and far away, then I will become a money-making MACHINE. But for now, I can't face it.

  3. I currently am stalking pregnant women at walmart to see if anyone is having a late december girl so I can give all my baby clothes away. Its just easier that way! I will give $25 bucks for the stroller. I agree with you greedy people make me SICK, not needy....greedy.

  4. Until I saw her walk around the corner and climb in to a Mercedes.


  5. Jenna- you can pay people to sell stuff on ebay for you. I just discovered this today. They are called Trading Assistants and they take the good, list them and take about 30% cut of the profit. So your pram may well sell for $300, and you would get about $200 back with no effort.
    ebay has a section where you can search for TAs around your zip code.
    Rebecca D

  6. We had our community garage sale this Satruday, too, and I thought for sure the twins' clothes would sell like hotcakes-turns out my husband's XXL sweatshirts sold just as well (or just as poorly!). Needless to say I made just $75 after 5 hours in the sun and am still left with 2 tubs of baby clothes. AmVets is coming on Wednesday, and I haven't decided if the baby clothes are going yet. I think I'm going to try Craigslist first. You know what sold the best? My husband's old beat up size 13 EE running shoes-most to a little woman that I'm sure is going to sell them at a swap meet or Tijuana for a profit!

    Good luck to you this week!


  7. I grew up in a poor family. I try to give away all my girls stuff to someone I know that needs it.

  8. Your post is amazing. My wife and I are always looking for ways to save money on clothes for the kids and we have an idea for an exchange type of site where you could check out clothes like you would a book at the library, you just pay shipping and a mimimal annual fee. Like I said it’s just an idea at the moment so I guess I’m just writing to see if that sounds like something other parents would be interested in.
    Think of getting all those clothes out of your house, others get use out of them and you get the use of others clothes for next to nothing...and all with no garage sales or dissapointments from consignment stores.
    Any thoughts or reactions?