Just call me the Miss Manners of garage sales.
I believe that, contrary to popular belief, a yard sale is not
an anything-goes, no-etiquette-needed free-for-all. As in any social situation, there are certain things you do or don't do
in order to be polite.
Being avid yard sale shoppers, my husband, Michael and I often run across examples of bad manners, both by shoppers
and by sellers. Here are a few faux pas we've seen that could easily be avoided by the simple
practice of good yard sale etiquette.
Being an "Early Bird" - If the paper says the sale starts at 7am, don't show up at 5:30am or don't drive by the night
before in hopes beating the other shoppers to the bargains. Yard sale shoppers who do this give the rest of us shoppers
a bad name.
Not Respecting the Seller's Property - Walking unnecessarily through the yard, reeking havoc on the seller's merchandise
displays, and blocking neighbors' driveways are definitely no-no's.
Carrying Only Large Bills - Producing a $20 bill for a 25¢ purchase is extremely inconsiderate. Save small bills
and change throughout the week for your Saturday yard sale trip.
Loud or Obnoxious Behavior - Just because the seller is up early for the yard sale doesn't mean his neighbors are.
Driving a noisy vehicle or speaking and laughing loudly will not endear you to the seller. Aggressive haggling
or obnoxious negotiating tactics aren't welcome, either.
Not Respecting Other Buyers If you want to buy a large item or more items than you can carry, ask the proprietor
to mark the item or start a "pile" for you in an out-of-the-way place. It is rude to claim an item as "yours"
if you haven't made any effort to let the proprietor or other shoppers know you intend to purchase it.
Not Pricing Items Clearly - Or worse yet (in my opinion), not pricing items at all. Buyers shouldn't have to work
at figuring out the prices. If it's too confusing, some shoppers will get frustrated and leave without making
Accommodating Early Birds - Allowing early shoppers to get the bargains is unfair to the shoppers who are careful
to respect the start time you stated in your ad or on your sign. Accommodating early birds provides positive
reinforcement for this inconsiderate behavior.
Trying to Sell Used Stuff at "New" Prices If your stuff means that much to you, take it to a consignment store or
sell it through a classified ad. Yard sale shoppers won't pay prices barely below what you'd find in a discount store.If you are in doubt about pricing, ask for the advice
or help of a friend who frequents garage sales.
Being Careless in Preparations - There's nothing worse or a buyer than hearing, "How did that get out here?
That's not for sale!" If you are working with someone else in preparing for the sale, communicate well so
items don't get out that aren't supposed to be sold.
Not Taking Down Old Signs - After the yard sale is over, the signs you posted are litter that should be
disposed of. Carelessly leaving old signs up is extremely inconsiderate to both future shoppers who will inevitably
drive down your street looking for the sale, and the neighbors who must look at your weather-beaten signs for
months to come.
If you have ever violated any of these social graces (as either a seller or buyer), take heart. Yardsalers
are a forgiving bunch. Just make a silent vow right now that in the future, you will always be on your best
bargain-shopping and bargain-selling behavior.
Nancy Twigg is the editor of Counting the Cost, a free
twice-a-month e-zine dedicated to everyday abundant
living at its best. To subscribe to Counting the Cost, send a blank e-mail to email@example.com
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