Ginny Magers

Apparently, after  SEVEN years of online selling on ebay (auctions, not a store), and 100% approval rating, I am-to borrow from the line in movie Animal House, “on double secret probation.” It seems ebay has flagged my PayPal account as a “risk” and puts a hold on my funds for up to 21 days in case of a dispute. Rage is the word that came to mind  as I was attempting to transfer a measy $25 to my checking account, and saw the notice above my account history in PayPal. I went to the contact us page and clicked on a link-surprise-to “talk” to a robot with a woman’s name who “wishes she could be human” or some crap like that, but isn’t, so I made the mistake of trying to explain myself and “she” said I was being too complicated for a relationship with her as she is pre-programed to answer only questions that EBAY dreams up. If my question or problem has not been preprogramed for a canned response, the question or answer can not possible exist, so I do not exist in essence.  I called the toll free number and spoke to a man (human) in a far-flung country who only could tell me-after I pointed out my feedback is steller-that “if I continue to receive positive feedback into the future my account will be reviewed in 35 days…blah, blah, blah.” If seven years isn’t enough to convince the robotrons running the place that I am worthly of my funds before some dispute that may occur into the distant future..I guess they are now clairvoyant robotrons.. then what is a small potatoes seller to do? I am relieved that my sole income does not come from ebay.  I enjoy (or used to) selling small items at low cost at a good value. I ship fast, often the same day. This does not please the robotrons at ebay. I do not want to pay USPS extra for tracking numbers as I barely clear any profit as it is. I can not  afford to print pre-printed labels offered either. UPS is no bargain as I tend to ship small light weight items. The buyer considers the cost of shipping in the purchase. Paying $12 extra to buy a pair of used, but cool, shoes on top of the auction, or  Buy It Now price, does not sit so well with many a bargain shopper. Almost nothing I sell fits into those one-price boxes so popular with many a seller. I have 20 years plus in retail experience and deliver excellent customer service. Lately, all ebay wants from me is to rate every tiny transaction with a survey. I did get a call one day, from a live person telling me about new features-like the extra characters in the listing header. Somehow this was supposed to make me do cartwheels while on the phone. Never was I asked anything that was not a targeted question, then later I receive emails asking for more of my precious time, to rate the call (code for rate the PERSON-which I will not do), and these do not go away quietly. I do not go away quietly either.  So this is my rant  at the outrageous, arbitrary new rules to make ebay a better experience.  Like the post office, ebay fails to remember there are other online options outthere in cyber selling space.

 

 

After a break in the 90 degree heat and rain, rain and more rain forecasts…partner in crime and I threw together a last-minute garage sale on day off-a Friday no less. With little advertising (signs and that free listing site) we managed to pull in $50 or so on odds and ends-no big ticket items left this go around. Goal was to clear closet/garage space, which we did. Some items that were left over that did not fit in our alloted space was donated to a small thrift store. A few items will be carted to sister’s sale in a different part of the city-so new sets of eyes. Our mid-summer cash went to 1) a tank of gas (just before it jumped by 15 cents) 2) a $5 buffet of Chinese, Italian, and salad bar dinner. The rest probably went for groceries. So we stretched our paychecks even more..and spent some cash in the neighborhood. Plus, the extra room in closet is welcome. Sunday we treated ourselves to the 7-11 free Slurpee or whatever those frozen drinks are called. They make us feel like a kid again…

Why buy or sell at a yard sale? For me, it is in my DNA. Along with inheriting my mom’s hips, (thanks mom), love of big purses, and bad eyesite, I inherited her passion for bargain hunting. With a family of six, it was a great way for her to get out of the house, and shop while stretching her meager waitress wages and tips. Along with the bargains, such as a perfectly fine, wool Turkish rug for $5.00 (no, I did not talk seller down-that was the price marked and who am I to argue?), it is a study in humanity. I love to people watch and socialogy students and anthropology students could learn much about humans and their artifacts. As for the “stuff” you are pretty much going to run across these items: Sacks of Geographic magazines, Reader’s Digest books and magazines, copies of “You’re OK, I’m OK,” (probably now replaced with Dr. Phil books), yogurt makers ,(now being upseated by George Foreman grills or that Magic Bullet deal), or whatever seen-on-TV du jour gadget that is popular now. As for those attending, there are several characters that show up at my yard/garage sales without fail, or I spot them while making the rounds of sales. There is the guy in overalls who is out to strong arm elderly ladies out of their valuables, (usually gold jewelry, copper, etc.), the guy in plaid polyester pants looking for old watches and pocket knives, and the tool guy. Plus throw in the mix guys with trucks looking for scap metal to sell. Then there is the pack rat, whose car/van is packed already. The lady who buys it because it is a quarter and has no idea what she will do with it. The first guy is so invasive that whenever I start to look at a pile of jewelry, the owner will announce, “there’s no gold jewelry.” I assume most people by now are onto the gold is valuable train of thought, so there is no expectations there.Plus, the conversations are priceless.  One senior man, sitting among his garage sale “treasures” of rusty tools, commented to his younger male relative that young people today spend like the world is going to end tomorrow.  Younger man: “it could.”  Other reasons is, no sales tax, it is a way to buy “green” by reusing what is already there, brand new items from pricey mall stores sit in wait for me to take home for a song. Even those who once turned their noses up at the prospect are hooked now. My husband finds practical items for the house that would otherwise be a no-fun but necessary expense hit on the budget. One vacation we had a rental car and even stopped at a yard sale. I could only fit a picture frame into carry-0n but hey, fun to window shop.

12 Ways to Drive Away Buyers at Your Garage Sale

by Ginny Magers

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That is me, in the photo below, standing in garage probably wondering, where did I put the change bag? ( I never said I was the most organized person), at a season’s past annual garage sale.

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Along with the first signs of spring comes yet another kind of sign: Garage Sale (or Yard Sale, as case may be). The reasons for holding one are varied. You want to declutter the house/apt/garage/basement. You need to downsize. Or, face it, you could really use the extra cash. Garage/yard sales are work but can be rewarding if approached with some stragedy going in. Imagine how you will feel once you reclaim your space and have some extra coins in your pocket to boot. After 40 years of attending/holding garage sales (I started early with Mom), I can safely say: avoid these deal-breakers so not to blow your hard work..1) Smoking inside garage: Yes, it is your home but by opening the door you invited me in as a guest and I may be put-off or allergic to smoke and the smell. Last summer I was forced to throw away a brand new purse as the smoke smell lingered too long.

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2)Leaving everything unmarked (a few exceptions may apply). Announcing, “make me an offer” as I approach is a study in frustration. You may be insulted if I low-ball the price I am willing to pay, and you might be sizing me up to determine what you think I can afford. I know you paid “good money” for that musical toaster-oven-thingy, but it is outside for a reason. If the item has real monetary value, then perhaps consign it, sell it online, or put an ad in the paper. A rule of thumb: you will probably get one-fourth to one-third of retail value if lucky. Items that have sentimental value because “little Jimmy” gave it to you, maybe you aren’t ready to part with it or pass it along to a family member who can appreciate it. Larger items not displayed outside could be represented with a photo posted.

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3)Putting off unpacking boxes. Just today, I rushed over to a posted “9 a.m.” yard sale only to find: garage still stacked with boxes and nothing was priced at nearly 10 a.m. Boxes piled in the garage and on the driveway do not make a sale. Those are called “donations.” In my experience, Estate Sale shoppers love looking for buried treasure in piles, yet the serious garage saler is hopping from one to the next and may not feel up to the task. Buyers want and need visual aids to draw them in. Place merchandise at eye-level as close to curb as possible, without obstructing sidewalks, so driver will want to park and come get a closer look. Unless it is raining, or you live in the inner-city, porch sales seem to cause people to shy away, as no one wants to feel trapped, so make for easy exit.

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4)Calling it an Estate Sale. Unless the entire contents are included, call a spade a spade. Thinking you can attract more customers by the fancy title will not endear you to buyers. One beat up dresser does not an estate sale make (even if the house is on the market). Promote accordingly.

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5)Pawning off smelly, stained couches, rugs, bedding. If you can not rid the item of pet odors and household stains then why would I want to pay money to mess with your mess? Best to call bulky item pickup.

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6)Creating a safety hazard for customers. I have seen it all: swords, axes, knives, saws-all perched on tables or thrown on ground. This is a recipe for disaster. At one sale, the patio table had a board loose and it fell off and hit my foot. The owner barely looked up from her phone call to see if I was alright (I was). Think about what could go wrong and correct it.

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7)Displaying merchandise in rank, smelly basements. Maybe you are immune, but my nose works fine. The smell of pet urine or mildew will send me running back to the car in a flash. No bargain is worth subjecting my nose to offensive odors. Allow time to air out the space, if indoors, to create a pleasant environment.

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8)Offering broken appliances, phone, cameras for sale. What do I look like? The Maytag Repair man? No one wants to pay good money for broken items. If a printer needs ink, say so, or if CD/Radio combo only works on one setting, mark accordingly. The smaller items can go into a free box for pack rats to pick through. Larger appliances may appeal to scrap dealers or call bulky pick up.

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9)Screaming at children, teens, pets, so on. Setting up and selling is tiring, I know, and as obvious as it is that you are doing all of the heavy lifting while the rest of the family racks up the cell phone bill, loud voices do not entice me to linger. In fact I probably will slink away quietly. I still recall one type-A yard sale diva yelling at her relative for mixing talking toys with non-talking toys. If I want conflict, I’ll watch a realty TV show.

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10)Letting dogs sniff or yap. No matter how much you think Fido is a part of the family, Fido and I do not have a history so Fido and strangers may not mix. It makes me and others nervous to approach yards with dogs off a lease and on the loose. Dogs barking behind the door or in the back yard are unnerving as well.

11) Bickering with relatives. I have heard it all. Hubby “lowballs” the antique bedframe, wife gets mad, yells then storms off. Siblings argue in earshot of me over who wants to keep family possessions verus who wants to clean out and move on. Do all a favor and decide before the sale and warn siblings/spouses that you plan on selling grandpa’s taxidermied fox, or the fur will fly on sale day. Play nice for the customers for one day.

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12) Opening up after advertised time. Yard-salers are up early and eager to buy. Throwing up road blocks such as the lady did today with her “late start, helper did not show up” excuse just makes it more likely she will be hauling unsold merchandise back into her garage at night. The “come back later when we are set up” line sours my mood and most likely other sales await out there. It is bad enough reading tiny signs at 35-miles-per hour, only to find an empty yard or late-risers. If you and crew are not up to task, postpone, or donate and take a tax deduction if available to you.

.Other annoying habits of garage sale abusers: leaving signs up way past sale date and causing me to waste gas looking for a non-existent sale. Overcharging for soda and bottled water, or cheap homemade lemonaide, etc. Not having change on hand. Whole families chowing down on giant meals is no fun. A snack is one thing but watching you dine al fresco is rude.

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Tips: keep doors locked. Keep change bag on person, keep large bills in bank inside. Do not allow anyone to use restroom. Show customers electronics/lamps work by offering to plug them in. Assemble computers to draw attention to them. Keep signs short and simple. Ask friends to price own items so you won’t have to guess for her/him. Enjoy yourself!

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