what’ll you give me?

2 04 2010

I’ve found the last couple of weeks that talking to grown ups about perceived value and actual value is just as hard as talking to kids about it.  LJ will not give up on saying “I know a fast, easy way to make money!”  What’s that?  “A YARD SALE!”

Um… to him, a young and active little boy with rudimentary people skills, this is a great idea.  To me, an almost 30 mom of 3 with no desire to practice her people skills, this is a terrible idea.

Just figure out how much time it takes to set up and conduct a yard sale.

  • 2 days sorting through stored junk to find stuff people would want to buy.  (2 or 3 people, at least.)
  • 1 day putting all that stuff in one spot.  (2 or 3 people.)
  • 1 day pricing, organizing, and cleaning all that stuff.  (1 sucker of a person.)  While simultaneously, the other cohorts make signs and hang them at nearby and hopefully well-trafficked street corners.  (Total, 3 or 4 people, to ensure the person hanging signs doesn’t become street pizza.)
  • Then you need a yard, some sort of ground cover, a weekend with decent weather and good scheduling, and hopefully a good location.
  • 2 days with 3 people(ish) to man and actually sell the junk on your lawn.
  • Other suckers to keep people from searching through your garage for stuff that’s not for sale and trying to use your bathroom without permission.

Assuming 8 hour days, you’ve used – at the least – 126 man hours to conduct this.  The most I’ve ever made conducting a yard sale was $350.  That’s $2.70 an hour.

HERE’S MY POINT.  Because I know the math got us all bleery eyed, here’s my point.

The value of this yard sale is based on your situation.

  • If you need the money – any money – pretty quickly you would probably be better off at a pawn shop.
  • If you need the money but have time and energy to do it, a yard sale could be a good way to do it.
  • If you don’t need the money right away and don’t have the energy or time to do it – then donating it all to charity, getting a detailed receipt and writing it off at tax season will turn a better profit.
  • If you don’t need the money but you have the energy and just need something to do one sunny week and lots of shit to give away for basically free, then this is a great idea!

Now, everyone knows I love yard sales.  I love SHOPPING at yard sales.  I do not like putting on yard sales or spending time in the sun or sorting through crap I’ve seen or chasing down wasps or being threatened by a crazy dude with a knife.  True story.

To y’all that put on yard sales, I love you.  I will visit you.  I will talk to you.  I will give you my dollar bills.

I don’t envy you.

Because to me, the value is not there.  This is my perception.

To other people, it’s a great way to make money and setting up is fun and easy.  That’s their perception of value.

To still different people, they have nothing better to do or are trying to clear out stuff with maximum efficiency.  That’s THEIR perception.

To have an idea of value, you first need to define your measurements.  Are you basing it on time? Money?  Number of visitors? Area of storage space cleared out?

Until you know what you want and how to measure it, you won’t be able to quantify your success.  You know this isn’t just about yard sales.  It’s about the job you do every day.  The time you spend with your kids.  The energy you spend on what matters to you.

If you said to me “I’ll give you a truck load of candy for that” I’d probably turn you down.  I don’t like candy THAT much and my “that” is definitely awesome.  However, if you offered me a truck load of books for “that”?

Thank you for shopping. Please come again!  I’ll see you next week when I’m done sorting this shitload of books!

So what do you actually give value to?  How do you define success?

Is it measured in time or money?  Peace?  Smiles?  Laughs?  Number of xanax taken?  Good meals eaten?  Amount of boredom?  Mouths fed and feet shod?  Health?  Longevity?  Cleanliness?  Morality?  Education?

(ok, I promise next post to be less serious and more offensive.  Sorry about the mushy, actually educational post.  I do really want to know your definition of value!)

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