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Yard sale photos

Tuesday, August 11th, 2009

I’ll post some stories and tips from the yard sale whenever I get a bit more motivated, but for now here are some photos from before the sale and the day of the yard sale. Enjoy! Click on the photo to see the albums.

The Sunday Somethings, 09aug09

Sunday, August 9th, 2009

Others writing The Sunday Somethings: Audrey

Something that made me smile this week: Making over $3300 for the National MS Society – incredible!

Something I’m thinking: I’m tired, and I’m going to bed as soon as I finish writing this.

Something I’m hoping: I’m hoping to get back to normal life now.

Something happening around the house: We can see our library, foyer, and dining room again! The house needs a good cleaning, though…

Something I’m reading: I didn’t really have time to read this week, but I did buy The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie which is this month’s book club selection. I think I read the first page.

Something tasty I ate this week: Hrm, food was pretty subpar this week. I think I had cereal for dinner a few nights – we just didn’t have enough time with all the last minute yard sale stuff. Oh, but I did have some EXCELLENT lemonade that my brother-in-law made for the yard sale.

Something Maddie did this week: She got bit (in the back!) by a classmate for the first time. She has a lovely mark on her shoulder.

Something happening with the pregnancy: Um, oh yeah, I’m pregnant. New baby is about the size of a lemon.

Something I struggled with this week: Hrm, aside from the challenges of the yard sale, I struggled with writing this edition of The Sunday Somethings. I had a hard time getting motivated.

Something I’m doing towards my goals: The yard sale was a huge success. When I get around to it, I’ll post more photos and stories. It was certainly an experience. I couldn’t believe the number of people who showed up and bought stuff. Wow! Unfortunately, the photography class that I mentioned last week was canceled. Boo.

Something I learned this week: I learned a lot of things about running a ginormous yard sale. Since I will never do it again, I can only serve as a resource to others rather than apply the knowledge directly.

Something I’m looking forward to next week: Um, I haven’t even thought about this week too much, but I do have several fun things planned.

Something random: Craigslist is an amazing venue for advertising yard sales…at least in this area!

Something I captured: A shot of the crowd at about 7am on Saturday morning. Madness, I tell you. For over two hours, starting at 6:30am, I was doing transactions literally non-stop (with 2-3 people conducting the easy transactions in line as well). CRAZY.

The Sunday Somethings, 02aug09

Sunday, August 2nd, 2009

Others writing The Sunday Somethings: Audrey

Something that made me smile this week: Maddie made me smile quite a bit this week. For the most part, we had a great time together. It was fun to see her interact with her grandparents this weekend.

Something I’m thinking: I’m thinking non-stop about this charity yard sale, and I’m pretty sure most of this post is going to revolve around that.

Something I’m hoping: Obviously, I’m hoping that the yard sale is going to make a lot of money for the National MS Society.

Something happening around the house: Our garage quickly went from a two-car garage to a one-car garage and is now a no-car garage. Donations are still piled just about everywhere, but it is starting to get a little more manageable…well, not really, but we have made progress.

Something I’m reading: I finished My Sister’s Keeper and went back to reading The World Without End. I’m torn about reading things like that. I really don’t feel like I have enough time to read anything too long or complex.

Something tasty I ate this week: We went to a wedding at the Biltmore Estate this weekend, and our dinner was very good!

Something Maddie did this week: She stayed with her grandparents while we went to the wedding. We didn’t quite leave her overnight. We left for Asheville from Davidson while she was napping and returned around 1am. She had a lot of fun with Nana and Bapa and apparently didn’t ask for Mama or Dada even once!

Something happening with the pregnancy: I got some new maternity shirts since I didn’t have much need for short-sleeved shirts in the first pregnancy. This one is one month earlier, and I’m showing earlier relative to the first pregnancy, too.

Something I struggled with this week: Gathering, sorting, pricing.

Something I’m doing towards my goals: Working like crazy towards this yard sale for the National MS Society (getting closer to that goal of raising $100,000 for the NMSS – obviously, I have a long way to go). I also signed up for a photography class that starts this week.

Something I learned this week: I learned that some people may actually want to pay good money for a high end stroller that is 20 years old. We’ll see if we can actually find a buyer as we have two such items in our pile of donations.

Something I’m looking forward to next week: Having this yard sale behind us.

Something random: Gabe’s coming around on my favorite road game, 20 questions. For the longest time, he refused to play. The last few road trips, I’ve convinced him to play a round or two. It’s better with more people to brainstorm questions (and we don’t limit it to 20), but it’s still a good way to pass the time.

Something I captured: This doesn’t come close to describing the madness that is our house right now. Just one of the photos showing some of donation central.

Item Donations Needed for MS Yard Sales

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

We’re hosting two yard sales to benefit the National MS Society. The dates are Saturday, August 8th and Saturday, October 17th. We will donate 100% of the sales to the National MS Society. Leftover items after October 17th will be donated to a worthy charity that takes item donations (probably one that picks up the donations).

We would love to take your junk! We can provide tax receipts (just like Goodwill) for your records – you determine the value of your donations as you would for donations to any other charitable organization. We are accepting item donations now through the beginning of October (preferably before the beginning of August). We will accept almost anything – clothing, toys, kitchen and other household items, books, furniture, etc. We can take smaller items anytime – larger items will need to be donated closer to the sale dates.

We could also use volunteers to help us with the day of the sale (and possibly to help organize and price things in the days leading up to the sale). And, of course, cash donations to the National MS Society are always accepted! I can give tax receipts for those, too. For those of you not in the area, we might be able to arrange something.

Thank you for your support!

Kids Exchange: Tips for consigning

Thursday, February 19th, 2009

I haven’t consigned any items yet, but I learned a few things from working and shopping the sale. Some of these tips are just guesses based on my observations.


  • Securely tag your items: The shoppers are not going to be gentle with your items. Your merchandise may be buried under piles and piles of other items, so be sure that your tags are securely attached. Don’t just use safety pins to attach your tags to your clothing. Zip ties are more secure. While you’re at it, zip tie the clothing to the hanger as well. Many things that ended up in the “unwanted” bins did not make it back to the appropriate place quickly (or at all) due to missing hangers. The organizers of Kids Exchange didn’t provide us with extra hangers for such items, so we had to scrounge around for those.
  • Secure all pieces together: Whether you use zip ties, ziploc bags (making sure that the top is not only zipped but also taped completely shut), the original box (again, taped completely shut), or some other means, just be sure to secure all of your pieces. I can’t tell you how many random parts that I ran across while working and shopping. Your items aren’t going to sell as well if they are missing their pieces.
  • Use original packaging when possible: This may just be a personal preference. Gabe and I selected a few items that were likely identical to dozens of others with the exception that they were in their original boxes. We might have even paid a few dollars extra. We had to trust the tag when it said that the set was complete.
  • Be descriptive on the tag: Things like “complete set” or other information that isn’t obvious are helpful to the buyer, but you also want to be sure that your item gets properly categorized if it is misplaced during the sale. I don’t know for sure, but I think that the first thing that the “lost tags” person does is look through a box of spare tags that have been collected from around the building to see if they can match the item with the appropriate tag. Of course, if you’ve attached your tags securely, then you don’t need to worry about the tag getting lost. If your item is returned to the “unwanted items” section, then it really helps the sorters to return your item to the correct location if you write categorization information on the tag. This is especially important for clothing. Familiarize yourself with how they break down the categories. Generally, this is done by size, so write on the tag the correct size as well as whether it belongs in the girls or boys section. The people volunteering only care so much that your item makes it back to the right section, so make it as easy as possible on them. Your item has a better chance of selling if people can find it.
  • Familiarize yourself with the product groupings: Often an item could potentially belong to more than one place. It helps to find out which place is the most appropriate. For example, we found Little People items in the Little People section (as you would expect) as well as the Fisher Price section and various other sections like trains or animals. I’m guessing your good condition items would sell best in the section that best describes your item. Perhaps a strategy for selling a worse condition item would be to put it in a different category that still fits?? It’s probably best just to price it real cheap and put it in the proper place.
  • Price appropriately: We saw quite a few items on the 50% off day that were obviously not selling because of prices that were too high. It helps to know the going rate of what you are selling. I’m sure that there are websites out there to help you with this, in addition to checking prices on ebay or craigslist. Consignment prices are higher than yardsale prices.
  • Make sure your items are clean: This seems pretty obvious, but I can’t tell you how many items that I saw that looked grungy. Also, I highly recommend putting items like bedding into plastic bags (original linen packaging with the large, clear plastic zipper bags are perfect). When I was cleaning the linen section, it was impossible to tell whether some items were stained or just dirty from falling onto the dirty floor. I would recommend doing the same with soft fabric toys. You cannot expect that your item will not fall onto the floor, and that floor is extremely dirty.

    Please leave comments if you have other suggestions, especially if you have consigned at the sale in the past!

  • Kids Exchange: Tips for shopping

    Wednesday, February 18th, 2009

    While working the Kids Exchange sale in January as a volunteer, I learned a few things about both shopping and consigning. I thought I would post my amateur tips here for first timers. Stay tuned for the consigning tips…

    Shopping the Sale

    • Volunteer: In my limited experience, this seems to be the number one way to find the best deals. Volunteers are allowed to shop one day before the consignors as well as an hour early on the 50% day. This means considerably shorter lines and the best picks. I had people tell me that they waited in line over 2 hours. I never had to wait longer than 20 minutes during the volunteer time slots.

    • Consign 10 or more items: If you can’t volunteer, then consigning is probably the second best way to go. Even if you are volunteering, there are benefits to consigning. First of all, you get a preview of what is for sale. Many people scope out their finds while dropping off their items. If you don’t volunteer, then you get to shop a day early. The lines can still be long, but you still get a pretty good pick of the items. I wouldn’t be surprised if half of the items for sale are gone before the public sale starts. It’s insane.
    • Bring a shopping cart: They do have very limited shopping carts available, but you are not guaranteed to be able to get one. Bring something that will suffice. I have seen people with strollers (for the loot, not the baby!), wagons, homemade clothing racks made out of PVC pipes attached to wagons, personal shopping carts, big plastic bins on wheels, etc. I made this mistake when I went to the sale last summer, but I was fortunately with someone who knew the ropes.
    • Be prepared to be there a while: Lines can potentially be long, but shopping the sale also takes some time. It’s very overwhelming. You’ll want some time and energy to sift through piles of toys and racks of clothing. Bring a snack. Bring bottles and food for the kids (or leave the kids with a sitter). Wear comfy shoes.
    • Have a plan: Kids Exchange is huge, so you will want to make a list of things you want to buy. I found it easier to attack the larger items and specific items first, then things like toys, then clothing last. It helps to know the regular prices on things so you know whether you’re getting a good deal.
    • Don’t buy items that are not 50% off on the last day: I guess that there would be exceptions to this one, but we made a point of not buying anything that wasn’t 50% off on the last day. The items are extremely picked over by this point, and it makes sense that either something is wrong with the item or it is overpriced. Sure, things can get misplaced or buried, but as a general rule, there was a reason that hundreds of others passed on that particular item.

    Kids Exchange: My Volunteer Experiences

    Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

    I decided to volunteer for the recent Kids Exchange sale after hearing that it is the absolutely best way to shop the sale. I wasn’t sure how I was going to be able to swing a 5 hour shift since I can’t usually be away from Maddie for 6 hours (once you factor in travel time, arriving early for the shift, etc). When I signed up to volunteer, I had a hard time envisioning what Maddie’s schedule would be like in a few months. It wasn’t that long ago that I could easily plan months in advance, but things have certainly changed. Life is way more unpredictable now! With Maddie’s nursing schedule, I thought that it would be easiest to volunteer for one of their split shifts.

    Most of the volunteer slots are one 5-hour shift, but they had a few special split shifts. Mine was a 3-hour shift on Thursday night, during the consignor’s sale, and a 2-hour shift on Sunday at the end of the 50% off sale. They are very adament about not making changes or cancelling your shift except in the case of emergencies and unavoidable schedule conflicts. In the days leading up to the sale, I was regretting my decision to volunteer! We spent more money than we should have at Christmas, so we have been watching our expenses closely and are not in a money spending mode. We weren’t sure what we needed to buy for Maddie as she has plenty of toys, and she is set for clothing for now. She did not, however, have anything for the Spring or Summer. The January sale has only Spring and Summer clothing. I still have a hard time deciding what size that she will be in several months!

    I toyed with cancelling my shift, but I decided to stick with it. I arrived a few minutes early on Thursday evening, as they requested. I was under the impression that we would get some sort of instruction or training, but they pretty much just told me to go over to the “unwanted items” and sort things. Fortunately, a few people in the unwanted items section had been working for several hours, so they were able to show us the ropes. I took clothing items that had been discarded both in the designated section and all over the building and sorted them into the appropriate sections. Is it a boys or girls item? What size is it? I will be revisiting this topic when I talk about tips for consigning and shopping the sale! I ran a few toys from this section to the appropriate sections, but overall I just sorted tons of clothes into the appropriate sections while a few runners took sorted clothing to the sales racks.

    The unwanted section was hopping for a while. It seemed like every time we turned around, someone had discarded 20 more items. We had to monitor the sorted items to ensure that people didn’t just insert their random items into the ones that we had dutifully sorted. We had a lull after a little while, and I was reassigned to Linens.

    The Linens section was a complete mess when I arrived! The items had been tossed around, fallen off the table, and picked through furiously for almost 2 days. I worked with one other girl to straighten up the table, put the larger items on the floor under the table, and basically make it look presentable to the public sale the following morning. This task was a bit daunting at first and was harder than it looked. Nothing was particularly heavy, but it was manual labor that I’m not accustomed to doing. I think it was good for me, and I felt a sense of accomplishment when I looked over the section and saw a tidy row of linens…until I realized another section of linens that we had not yet tackled or even seen! We got those under control as well, and then we were reassigned to the checkout tables.

    The checkout tables were a bit overwhelming. We had to take the tags off of every item and put them into a box for the next table to calculate the totals. We bundled every 10 clothing items with a zip tie. We had to bag every item that could be bagged. We then had to count the number of bundles and bags as well as the number of items. This had to be cross checked with the number of tags in the box. We asked if they wanted to give a charitable donation. When all of this was checked and double checked, we would write the totals on a sticky note, put it into the box, tell the customer their number, and deliver the box to the next table. They really have a pretty good system, though they rely on the volunteers heavily to do their job correctly! My first order had 64 items, and this was a typical order throughout my checkout experiences. I was always concerned that my count was not going to come out correct (and once I couldn’t make it match no matter what I did and finally just notified the next table that I was off by one item. Oops.).

    I returned on Sunday afternoon for my 2-hour shift. I did a short stint in the unwanted items section and spent the majority of my time in the check out section. I once again removed tags, bagged and bundled items, asked for donations, and delivered my boxes. This went fairly smoothly, and the time passed quickly for the most part.

    Overall, I felt a little stressed to take time out of my busy life for working the event, but I actually enjoyed the work. I have never worked retail, so it was fun to do something different for a few hours. I have a much greater appreciation for checkout clerks, especially at this event but really in any busy situation. It gave me good ideas for what to do and not do when consigning items. It also made me appreciate the short lines and excellent selection on both the volunteer shopping day and the one-hour-early 50% off day. If you are serious about shopping Kids Exchange and have a few hours to spare, then volunteering is the way to go. Wear comfortable shoes, bring a water bottle and snacks, and be ready to be on your feet the entire time!

    Kids Exchange, Part 1

    Sunday, February 15th, 2009

    In this area, the Kids Exchange consignment sale is the big topic in the Mommy community twice a year. Thousands of consignors submit their items. Pretty much anything kid related is fair game, and item condition varies quite a bit. The most recent one was last month.

    I went to the sale for the first time last summer, and I was overwhelmed. I only went on the last day of the sale, midday, when almost everything is marked 50% off. I could not believe the amount of kids items. They had tables and tables and tables of toys, books, games, linens, and baby items. They had racks and racks and racks of clothing. It was unlike anything I had ever seen and a bargain hunter’s dream (though I’m not sure I’m patient enough to be that bargain hunter). I found a few cheap items including some age appropriate toys for Maddie, a few articles of clothing, and a baby scale.

    The Kids Exchange public sale is 3 days long, and it is preceded by two special sale days. The first day is reserved for volunteers only, and the second day is reserved for those who consign at least 10 items. The volunteers must work 5 hour shifts (a special two hour block is reserved for those who work two shifts). I heard that the best way to shop the sale was to volunteer, so I decided to give it a try. I signed up for a special split shift, since I wasn’t sure what Maddie’s schedule would be like when I made the commitment. My shift was Thursday night during the consignor sale and Sunday afternoon at the end of the 50% off sale.

    The volunteer sale was on Wednesday night, and Gabe, Maddie, and I attended the sale. Wow. I thought that last year’s final day had a ton of stuff, but I had no idea where they started. I cannot even begin to adequately describe what we saw. It was extremely overwhelming. Tables were piled so high that you had to be very careful when trying to grab a particular toy. I, myself, caused several toy avalanches. In addition to 3-foot high piles of items on top of every table, the items were stacked under the tables as well. They had many of every type of major baby equipment. Do you need a bouncy seat? They probably had no less than 100 of those. An exersaucer? At least 100 of those as well. A crib? Over 50 of those. Little People farm? You can choose from at least 20 different ones of varying prices, condition, and completeness. We were quite overwhelmed!

    We ended up buying about a dozen different items of clothing, a few Little People sets (airplane, bus, zoo), a little baggie of spare Little People, a few wooden puzzles, some childproofing items, and a few other random odds and ends. We started out trying to find a wagon (none seemed to be available), safety gates (we didn’t look in the right place and missed out on these entirely!), and a stroller (well over a hundred strollers – too overwhelming). We turned to toys because we felt we might be able to accomplish something in that section! We then tackled clothing last as I knew that would be exhausting.

    I worked the sale on Thursday night, and I was astounded by how much of the stuff had been sold between the time that we arrived at 5pm on Wednesday and arriving for my 6pm shift on Thursday. I wouldn’t be surprised if half of the items had been sold by then! Anyone who is remotely serious about getting great deals at this sale should consider volunteering or at least consigning items. Oh, and I should mention that I didn’t have to wait in hardly any lines. I think we had to wait maybe 20 minutes on Wednesday night (and had no wait at all on Sunday).

    As a volunteer, we also had the benefit of shopping an hour early on Sunday’s 50% off sale. As soon as we walked in, Gabe said, “there’s nothing left!” This is a very funny statement considering the massive quantity of stuff that still remains at this point. Compared to the first day, there really is nothing left! Coming in an hour early is a big benefit as you are able to find the best deals on the items that were mispriced. Suddenly, something that was deemed too expensive at $20 is a steal at $10! We found the Drop and Roar Dinosaur for $7.50, some cheap clothing, some cute puzzles, and a few other miscellaneous items for cheap, cheap, cheap!

    Stay tuned for my experiences as a volunteer as well as some things that I learned for consigning items and shopping the sale. I’ll be posting 3 more posts about the sale over the next several days or so. In the meantime, here’s a photo from Sunday when they had “nothing” left (you can’t even see the racks and racks of clothing in the back):

    Yardsailing Loot

    Monday, October 20th, 2008

    Yes, I spelled that correctly. This is the first time that I have been yardsailing this year. Last year, I went with Shannon and Sam numerous times to visit yard sales and buy (mostly) baby stuff. The last time that I went was on November 3rd of last year. I’ve been a bit busy this year, and it’s pretty difficult to go yardsailing with the baby (or to leave her for an extended period of time since I’m nursing). My friend Melisa saw a “consignment sale” advertised, and we decided to visit it and other yard sales on Saturday. This was my first time without the professionals, so I’m sure our routes were not quite as efficient as they could have been. I was glad that we now have a GPS as that was invaluable in finding the next sale.

    For around $20, I was able to find several books, games, more MegaBloks, a bunch of fake food, matchbox cars, a miscellaneous toy that may come in handy at restaurants, and a few cute clothes. The fake food was a fun find. I’m sure Maddie will enjoy it in a few years – what kid doesn’t like fake food? The matchbox cars were another good find as they seem to be the real deal — not the cheapo kind that filled half the case I found last year. Boggle Junior and Scrabble Junior will come in handy a while from now. Hope that Maddie likes games! The books were Click, Clack, Moo Cows That Type (which sounds funny to me!), The Poky Little Puppy (one of my absolute favorites from my childhood), the old classic Pat the Bunny, and board book versions of Are You My Mother and Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you See?. I also found a neat little foam book that seems to be part book and part puzzle with neat textures. All in all, it was a great yardsailing day!

    Here’s the pic of my loot:

    The last yardsailing adventure for a while…

    Wednesday, November 14th, 2007

    I almost didn’t go yardsailing on November 3rd, but Shannon convinced me to accompany her to two neighborhood wide yardsales. Afterall, this would be the only chance that I would have to find baby girl clothing! We didn’t stay out as late as we normally would, and we visited probably less than a dozen yardsales (including unsuccessful drive-bys). (more…)