Friday, November 25, 2011

"The Price Isn't Right"

By Jerry Zezima

The Stamford Advocate

Get-rich-quick schemes are a dime a dozen, which means you’d have to have dozens of them to get rich.

But my wife, Sue, and I recently came up with a get-poor-quick scheme: We had a tag sale. There were plenty of tags but not many sales. To make matters worse, we actually lost money. And our garage is still full of stuff.

To run a tag sale, you need two things: stuff and Bloody Marys. We had a lot more stuff than we had Bloody Marys, but the Bloody Marys went faster than the stuff.

Joining us in this disastrous venture was our younger daughter, Lauren, who had a lot of her own stuff in our garage and brought over even more stuff from her apartment. Lauren’s husband, Guillaume, wisely spent most of the day inside, going through a baseball card collection that is probably worth more than all of our stuff combined.

Among the items we put out in the driveway and on the front lawn were: two pairs of crutches ($5 and $10), the Bubble Mate Foot Bubbler ($10), a wok ($5), a dog cage ($20), a pair of ice skates ($5), two artificial Christmas trees ($10 and $20) and a painting of two barns in a field ($15), plus lots of clothes (reasonably priced) and costume jewelry (ditto).

The sale began at 10 a.m. Sue, Lauren and I sat on chairs in the driveway with a cash box (empty) and glasses of Bloody Marys (full), ready to do a brisk business.

At 11 a.m., a guy named Marty came by. “Times must be tough if you’re having a tag sale,” he said.

“Not at all,” I replied. “I’m dependently wealthy.”

“What do you mean?” Marty asked.

“I’m depending on you to make me wealthy,” I said.

Marty left without buying anything.

“You’re driving customers away,” Sue told me.

“We’ll have to sell you,” Lauren chimed in.

“And take a loss,” Sue said.

“Who loses money at their own tag sale?” Lauren wondered.

“We do,” Sue noted.

“It’s pathetic,” said Lauren, adding, “Who wants another Bloody Mary?”

At 11:30, we made our first sale. A woman named Rosa admired the watercolor of the barns. “I painted it myself,” I said.

“Really?” Rosa chirped.

“No,” I admitted.

“Ten dollars,” she offered. It was five bucks less than the price on the tag. I drive a hard bargain, so I said, “Sold!”

A man named J.R. drove up with his children, Ana, 5, and James, 3, who wanted Lauren’s art set. I played hide-and-seek with the kids as J.R. handed Lauren $10, which she put in the cash box.

“Bye, Jerry!” the kids shouted from the car as J.R. drove away.

A woman who stopped with her adult daughter told us that she had recently been in a car accident. “If you get into another one,” I said helpfully, “we have crutches.”

No sale.

A young guy showed up to look at the jewelry. “I made it when I was in prison,” I told him.

“You did a nice job,” he said.

“I had a lot of time,” I replied.

“Prisoners generally do,” said the guy, who bought $12 worth of rings and earrings for his wife.

By 3 p.m., the official end of the sale, there was $55 in the cash box. We lugged most of the unsold stuff back into the garage and sent out for dinner, which came to $67.

“Next time we have a tag sale,” Lauren said, “we should give Bloody Marys to the customers. Maybe then we’ll make a profit.”

Copyright 2011 by Jerry Zezima


Dave Astor said...

Great piece with great lines, Jerry, despite the not-great amount of money you made at your tag sale. I've been through a number of those "events" we New Jerseyans call garage sales or yard sales, and I've never sold the garage or yard. One of my daughter's American Girl dolls, yes. (She offered it for sale and pocketed the proceeds.)

Jerry Zezima said...

Thanks, Dave. The "event" was fun, even though we didn't sell much, including the garage and the yard. Must have been the bloody marys.

Sharon said...

And, folks wonder why I just give my stuff to DAV, Goodwill, or whomever. Great story, Jerry.

Jerry Zezima said...

Thanks, Sharon. We ended up giving some stuff to Goodwill, too. Maybe we should open our own place and call it Goodriddance.

JustRex said...

The last time I cleaned out the shed i just took it all to the Salvation Army thrift store. The wife said "We could have had a yard sale!"

I don't think so.

Jerry Zezima said...

Darev2005, instead of hauling all of our stuff back into the garage, we brought some of it to Goodwill. If you and your wife ever do decide to have a yard (or tag) sale, make sure to include bloody marys.

Foxyroxy said...

The price may have been right but it may have been the Bloody Marys . The" Bloody" is scary . Next time try Virgin Marys. At all COST have fun !!!

Jerry Zezima said...

You may be right, Foxy, but we had fun anyway. Next time, if we have Virgin Marys, we'll have a prayer of more sales.

JustRex said...

Maybe you would have done better offering bloody mary's to the occasional onlooker. They might have lingered and mellowed enough to buy more things!

Jerry Zezima said...

Darev2005, that's exactly what my daughter suggested.