Life in the USA
Public Services I
Yard and Garage Sales
This material courtesy of Lisa Maloney
Yard, garage, tag, moving and apartment sales all refer to essentially the same thing: a private individual selling personal belongings from their own home. The goods for sale are typically displayed outside, either in the yard, garage, or driveway. Items may also be displayed inside the house or apartment if no outside space is available. Sellers advertise by posting small signs on neighboring streets, directing buyers to the seller's home. Sometimes the signs also describe what sort of items will be available for purchase.
Other places to find advertisements for yard sales include the local daily or weekly newspaper, local bulletin boards, neighborhood newsletters, and the website Craigslist.
Yard sales are most often held in the summer when weather is conducive to outdoor displays, but can sometimes be found in other times of year. When you get there, you will find items laid out on tables or blankets. Prices (set by the seller) are most often identified by a sticker on each item, but may also be written on a list and posted nearby. If an item is marked “make an offer”, the seller wants to negotiate a price. It is perfectly acceptable, even expected, to negotiate for any item so long as it is done good-naturedly. Sellers who are not willing to negotiate usually identify themselves by posting a small sign.
Purchases are made with cash. Since the seller has to make change out of their own pocket, small bills (such as $1 or $5) are always appreciated and large bills (such as $50 or $100) may not be accepted.
Yard sales are cheerful occasions; buyers and sellers alike tend to treat them as opportunities to socialize. Sometimes several families, an entire street, or the whole neighborhood will combine their yard sales together in one place or schedule them to happen at the same time. This adds to the festive feel. At particularly large yard sales, simple food like hamburgers, hot dogs, or lemonade is sometimes for sale as well.
Household goods such as dishes, clothes, books, and small trinkets are by far the most common items you will find at yard sales, but sometimes more unusual items – cars, pieces of art, bicycles, craft supplies, sporting goods – crop up. Sometimes you will find high-quality items at a fraction of what they cost in the store. You may also find items in good condition that are simply not available in the stores any longer. As a general rule the most unusual, highest quality, or best condition items sell early in the day, so it pays to be out and about when the sales begin!
The low prices found at yard sales make it possible for some of us to afford what we otherwise could not buy. Items sold are being passed on and re-used instead of going to the dumpster. But, more than anything, it is the thrill of discovering something new that makes the yard sale an American adventure. You never know what you'll find. One person's “junk” or discards may be exactly the treasure you want or need.
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