I love a good yard sale. My car automatically swerves toward yards or garages where yard sales are held.
I hate to host a yard sale. Around here, everyone wants to buy everything for a quarter. An entire weekend can be spent something like this:
“How much you want for that designer hand-bag?”
“$10, it was originally $80.”
“Will you take a dollar for it?” If you ponder too long they rescind the $1 offer, having instead found a box of dusty old cassette tapes they can buy for a dime a piece.
“How much you want for this Playstation 2 Game?”
“Well, it is brand-new in the package. I was thinking $20.”
The game is laid back down on the table. No bargaining, no dickering. If you go over two or three bucks around here, you are doomed.
By the end of one day your answer changes after you have looked at the designer handbag and brand new video game all day.
“How much you want for that handbag?”
“I’ll take it.”
“How about that video game?”
“How about a quarter? It’s brand new.”
“That’s a deal. I’ll take it.”
No kidding. I swear to myself I’ll never have another yard sale as long as a live. Then the junk starts to pile up again. This year I have a new idea and it’s just in time for Earth Day. I’ll arrange a swap meet.
It doesn’t have to be done on Earth Day, but a swap meet allows others to get rid of items they no longer want and get something they do want in exchange.
When arranging a swap meet decide on the number and type of items that are allowed. If you are having a women’s swap meet, then you might want to mark power tools off the list of acceptable items. You can limit the swap meet to handbags, jewelry, CDs, DVDs, or collectibles.
I think it is more fun, interesting, and entertaining to have a White Elephant Swap Meet. Bring anything you no longer want, but think someone may want. You have to have tough skinned friends for this, because when someone shows up with a beat-up, chewed-up Harlequin Romance novel and no one wants it, things either get touchy or very funny.
Limit the number of items guest can bring to your swap meet. If you don’t, one of your friends will pull up with a truckload of items and you’ll end up storing them until your next yard sale.
It is also important to limit the quality of items: nothing broken, stained, or more than five years old, unless it is antique or collectible. Make sure the items are clean and in good condition. Electronics should work.
I will not swap you my brand new blender for your old, rusty toaster that doesn’t work. I don’t want pictures of your grandkids, although I might take the antique frame. Please, don’t bring plastic floral arrangements that look like they came from the dime store and are caked with five years of sticky dust and dust mites from your otherwise pristinely, clean home.
No one wants the straw hat you have worn for three years when you work in the garden. If it is worn out, at some point, it must be destined for the landfill, despite your best “green” intentions. If your group has a lot of worn out stuff, and it is paper, glass, plastic, or metal arrange a recycling party for another day, or provide directions to the local recycle centers at your swap meet.
You have to set some ground rules. People think differently and if you don’t spell out exactly what you are looking for, you may inherit a cat, despite your allergies.
Set a date, time, and location for your swap meet. Earth Day is April 22, that would be a great evening to have a swap meet. A Church, community center, backyard, or the neighborhood cul-de-sac are all great places to hold a swap meet.
Plan ahead how your swap meet will work.
It’s best to allow everyone to arrive and arrange their items before you allow horse-trading to begin. Besides, you may end up swapping an antique picture for a basket of plastic begonias if you don’t wait. You might find something better once everyone arrives.
You can allow people to swap individually. That works well if you have a small group.
One way to arrange a swap meet for a large group is to give them one ticket, which can be anything from a slip of paper to a paperclip, for every item they bring to the swap meet. Once everyone has arrived, begin the swap meet shopping experience together. One ticket may be exchanged for any one item. First come, first served.
Another way to hold a swap meet is to let people dicker among themselves. Deciding what they will trade, with whom, for what. If they don’t “find anything they like,” or make a trade. They have to take back anything they brought with them.
That is a necessary rule regardless of how you run your swap meet.
Someone will try to convince you to hold on to it until the next yard sale. Prepare yourself ahead of time to say, “No.” Practice in front of a mirror or with a friend if you have to.
Everyone can take home their swapped items and bring any leftovers to the next swap meet.