Friday, May 18, 2012

the Emily Post of Yardsales

Before we get down to business, I need to start by saying thank you for the massive outpouring of support yesterday!! I was totally blown away by the kind comments (both here and on E's blog), emails, Facebook messages, and new followers...thanks for making me feel like less of a freak for being so brutally honest all up on someone else's blog! To tell you the truth, I was a little bit scared to death before that thing posted...but yall made me feel like it was worth it. So thanks. And hello to my new friends! Hope you don't mind that I'm not ALWAYS that emotional. Sometimes I just like to talk about other pressing topics (that probably won't make you cry)...which is why today we're broaching the subject of Yardsale Donation Etiquette.

You may or may not know this, but I am sort of a yardsale queen. Not in a tacky, she-needs-to-be-on-Hoarders way, but in the sense that I like going to yardsales, I make a point to do so rather often, and I can usually get some pretty sweet deals. Nothing gives me greater joy (okay, something probably does, but I like to speak in hyperbole) than to have someone compliment my shirt/shoes/decor/jewelry and to be able to respond with "thanks, I found it at a yardsale!"But this is all mostly irrelevant today, because today we're not talking about shopping at yardsales. Today we're going to be discussing the proper etiquette to utilize when donating items to a yardsale. Specifically a church yardsale. Like the one I'm helping organize for this weekend. 

My church (Athens Vineyard, what's up!) actually had a yardsale last month, too. And Matt and I helped plan/organize/run that one, too. And now we're doing it again that means we've spent a good chunk of time over the last month being up to our ears in stuff people donated. And that makes me the resident expert on Yardsale Donation Etiquette. Is there already a book somewhere published about this topic? Because there might need to be. And may as well be me that writes it. So we'll call this my first draft of my soon-to-be bestselling book, mkay? A book that apparently the WHOLE WORLD needs to read, because YALL. People make some BAD CHOICES when it comes to selecting things to donate to a church yardsale!!! So let's jump right in, shall we?

Rule #1: Don't donate crap.
I mean that in every sense of the word. This is a YARD SALE. Not a dumpster. Why on earth would you think someone might want to buy your used food containers with crumbs still in them? Your empty perfume bottles? Your melted-down candles? Your used and well-worn undergarments (INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO VERY LARGE MENS WHITEY TIGHTIES AND SKETCHY LINGERIE!!!!!!!!)?? NO ONE wants those things, so please dispose of them in your own trashcan at home and don't make me do it for you. Also, those tiny soaps and shampoos you collected for free from the Holiday Inn back in 1993? Don't want those either, but thanks.

Rule #2: We will not be having a curtained-off section with a sign that says "18 and older only" with a bouncer checking IDs next to it; therefore, don't donate things that would belong in that section.
OH. MY. GOSH. Do you catch my drift here?? (Note: we received many donations from the community-at-large...not just families in the I will definitely assume these donations did not come from anyone I know...)  Your smut novels with NC-17-rated cover 'artwork'?? I don't want it!! I'm pretty anti-censorship, but for real now. There is no way we can sell that IN A CHURCH YARDSALE!!! Your equally special DVDs? For REAL??!?! Did you THINK before you threw all that in a bag and gave it TO A CHURCH??! Honestly. Just don't. Because then we have to throw it in the trash, and I feel bad about not recycling it and all, but I also can't just throw it in the recycling bin where people also might see it. UGH!

Rule #3: Put a label on it.
On your bag of random metal pieces and connectors-- just jot down on a post-it "Makes a Robot" and then we are a lot more likely to try to sell it. On your sheets-- "Queen Size" will save us a lot of trouble and guesswork. On your lovely crocheted...thing...--"toilet paper cover" would help. Please understand that the volunteers sorting through this mountain of random crap goodies probably do not have all night to spend discerning what your stuff is, and if they can't decide quickly, it will probably go in the trash and be a big waste. So put a label on it.

Rule #4: Nobody wants your personal mementos.
 While your completely-used-up address book is tempting, and I would love to add all of your contacts to my Christmas card, no. Why would you donate that? Ditto goes to your photo albums, calendars, scrapbooks, used up spiral notebooks...just...NO!

Rule #5: Don't donate things that are illegal to possess/sell.
Do you think I'm making things up? Because I'm NOT! I'm really sorry that your stolen 15 mph speed limit sign no longer goes with your decor, but we can't sell that!! We don't even want to have it in our possession!! But what the heck are we supposed to do with it now?!

Rule #6: Make at least a halfhearted attempt to clean things.
Two exhibits from last month's sale: Exhibit A: A cat litter box. The kind with the 'shelter' thing over the pan? I was totally disgusted, but at least the thing was clean. That thing actually sold really quickly. Apparently we priced it to sell. ;) Exhibit B: A hamster cage set thing. Complete with old cedar chips and hamster doodoo. Surprisingly, NO ONE WANTS YOUR OLD HAMSTER POO.

Rule #7: Donate things that are really hilarious.
Find something hilarious in your house? Share the love! This might be some kind of exception to rule #1...but if your crap is FUNNY, then most likely it will be appreciated (even if it's subsequently thrown away) by the yardsale volunteers. We're not only in this for the money, you know. We enjoy the hours spent in the company of our fellow volunteers, laughing hysterically at the random things that turn up in our donation room. 

 This book was a particular favorite from our last sale. Did it sell? Nope. Did it put an endless amount of joy in our hearts as we laughed at the cover and read excerpts out loud? Yes, yes it did. Another favorite was someone's extensive collection of ceramic cat knick-knacks. There must have been 100 cats...cats for your coffee table, cats for the top of your doorframe, cats for your bathroom, CATS FOR EVERYTHING! We could only smile as we imagined those cats gracing someone's was delightful! (Also, I spent some time scouring Pinterest to discern whether Cat Decor might be coming back into style anytime soon...because I could be ALL OVER THAT.) (It's not, that I can tell. Boo.)

Rule #8: Don't donate underwear.
I know we covered this already, but I really cannot overstress the importance of this. REALLY, JUST DON'T. You just have to come to terms with the fact that when your underwear are too worn out/stretched out/blown out for YOU to wear, they're too bad for anyone else to wear, also. Put them in the trash can and walk away. Don't make ME touch them first. UGH! EW! Used underwear!!! Ew!!!!! 

Well, that's all the rules I can think of for now. If you have any others in mind, feel free to leave them in the comments and then I can list you as a contributing author in my book. (Fame!! Fortune!!) And if you're ever about to make a donation and find yourself wondering is this appropriate to donate? then the answer is probably NO, but feel free to shoot me an email anyway and I will let you know. I'm kinda an expert at this thing by now. And I promise to be honest...and only make fun of you a little bit.

Happy Weekend!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! If you're in the Athens area, stop by our yardsale tomorrow 8-12 at the church! Although we've already umm... 'edited' the selection quite a bit, there are still some great deals and hilarious items to be had!


  1. In reference to #2: WOW! I can't believe that. I think it would be funny if you "accidentally" left something scandalous out, just to see if someone would try to buy it...

  2. Sooooo you don't want me to mail you a box of hamster feces for the yardsale?

  3. Ewwwww... I admit I'm not really a fan of yardsales but maybe I just go to really lame ones where people want ridiculous amounts of money for broken/ugly/ridiculously out of style things.

    For example, I once saw a VCR for sale.. for $50. REALLY!? Yes, really. And it had a note on it that they weren't sure if it worked. Niiiiiiiiiiiiiiiice.

  4. Linked over here from E, Myself, and I. Came because of your letter on infertility... stayed because of THIS POSTING! I am COMPLETELY with you. I have been telling my husband, family, friends, anyone who will listen for YEARS there needs to be a book about what to NOT sell at a yardsale. Underwear and half used lotions are always on the top... but also (and I promise you I have totally seen these things for sale) used deodorant and headless and/or naked Barbie dolls. I mean, if they still have their head, take the extra second to dress them before tossing them into the "sell" box! :)
    This post as now made me a follower of your blog. THANKS!!

  5. new follower here--I have to say that I love your sense of humor :). You are so good at writing accurately and funnily (?). Oh AND my guest post goes up tomorrow on E's blog and I am having a bit of a freak out so I feel ya there!! Glad to know I'm not the only one ha! And maybe I am not supposed to say mine is being posted tomorrow... have I just broken all the rules of guest posting? Possibly. Great post on yard sales though and I appreciated the not crying.

  6. This was hilarious! Partly because you're just funny, but partly because I know who donated the hamster cage and I was THERE yesterday when the speed limit sign was dropped off...the direct quote was "and this is Ian's donation." I was stunned speechless and while my brain ran through a list of comments about stolen property and all the inappropriate, I couldn't find the words. The donator (who shall remain nameless) always makes me feel a little socially awkward and I had just helped him move a huge tree. No Words.

  7. Hello-My name is Jena and I am addicted to yard sales.

    Love them!!

    You should seriously write a book about yardsale etiquette.

  8. People put underwear in a yard sale??! Gross!!

    My sons daycare is in a retirement home and they have this little "what not" shop for the residents used items. One day I got there a little early and he was still napping so I thought I'd pop in. OMG. They had a whole section of bras, underwear and panty hose. I just about died. Seriously. Who does that? And even more so...who BUYS that?!


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