Photo of our garage sale in Belton, MO 

Last weekend we held a Garage Sale as part of our downsizing and preparation for full-time RV living, and let me tell you, I may never organize another one again. The work of preparing for the sale aside, I was so taken aback by the blatant attempts to get every single thing I was selling at a price so grossly lower than what I was asking. 

The idea that you have a right to as much as you can get your hands on for as little as possible is aggravating. There comes a point where you know the item you are purchasing is a good deal, and bartering stops being a mutual dance and turns into a greedy and disrespectful exchange. Time and time again people offered me 80-90% less than what I was asking for. What’s up with that? I grew up helping my Mom organize garage sales and spending Saturday’s walking around the neighborhood sales and I don’t recall it every being like this. 

Yes, Garage Sales are all about the bartering and everyone going into one knows that, but there is a mutual respect that goes into price negotiations. Of course, you come in low expecting the seller to counter, but there is low, and there is bottom of the barrel, did you just ask me if I’d take .25 cents for this barely worn 5T Gap Kids sweater priced at $2?

It’s frustrating when buyers disregard the sellers part of the dance because all they can think about is getting “a steal”. It’s not a steal if you are attempting to rob the person on the other end of this negotiation. 

Sellers don’t have garage sales because they’re bored. They want/need to make a little money just like you want/need to purchase something at a low price. There is nothing wrong with either of these wants/needs, but there is a right way and a wrong way to go about achieving your end goal.

After two days of selling, we made just enough to cover the gas it cost us to drive Wander Bus to KC and back, and we left a hefty donation pile at my parents.

I’m still on the fence as to whether or not I think it was worth all the effort.

If you are an avid garage sale buyer what motivates you to barter the prices you do? If you are a seller what do you feel is a respectable percentage to start the barter negotiations at? Leave a comment below and share your Garage Sale stories and ideas for success. I’d love to hear what you have to say.

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Coffee drinker, skoolie owner, partner, roadschooler, and parent. Along with Jason, Abby is the co-host of the RV Miles Podcast and America's National Parks Podcast. When not talking National Parks and RV living, you can find Abby talking theater as the managing editor Of PerformInk. Find her on Twitter @abigailtrabue or search Our Wandering Family across all social media.

1 Comment

Kirstin Franklin · September 4, 2016 at 11:09 am

I love garage sales both for shopping and selling. As a buyer I don’t barter unless I’m picking us more than a handful of things and then I leave it up to the seller…I say “can you give me a deal if I take all of this?” And even if they only take $1 off of $20 I’m usually happy. As a seller I found a lot of success with selling basically everything for $1 and offering a deal of 12 for $10. There are some items of course which must sell for more and they go in a different area and are marked accordingly. We also found that having a junk bin where everything is .25 or 6 for $1 worked well. When I’m doing a garage sale my goal is to get rid of as much as possible and also make enough money to make the effort worth it. With our last yard sale we made $850 in 2 days…which was $500 more than expected. But I know how frustrating some of those buyers can be. I remember having a buyer come through who spent an hour selecting barely used boutique brand baby clothes which were marked at $1 or 6/$5…she picked at $40 worth of clothes and I gave her a deal only asking for $30 and she told me she world only give me $10. I said “no deal” and she literally sat on my front lawn waiting for me to cave for 40 minutes. Eventually I went to her selected pile and picked out what I’d be willing to let go for $10 it was 20 pieces….she swore at me and started yelling and left with a middle finger waving. Not 10 minutes later a woman pulled up and offered me $100 for the whole bin…. Lesson learned…let the entitled buyer walk away angry. Someone else will come along. 😉

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