Monday, October 09, 2006

The Yard Sale

The Yard Sale

Evading the Home Invaders

Yesterday, the Cornell Household had its first yard sale. If you're unfamiliar with this suburban tradition, permit me to explain. The Yard Sale, and its cousin, the Garage Sale, occur when a family collects enough material goods that they can no longer see the floor of their basement. In an effort to reclaim the floor, and perhaps any lost household pets, the family decides to purge the basement of the amassed junk. This usually means a 3-4 day expedition of junk sorting, during which most of the material is revealed not to be junk, but cleverly-disguised telepathic aliens, who have the power to invade the human mind and implant theoretical scenarios where the pre-supposed "junk" suddenly becomes useful. Some aliens are even powerful enough to convince you to purchase a bigger house.

Despite the dangers, Kim and I did manage to outmaneuver these aliens by employing our own unique powers. During my teenage years, I developed a heroic set of mental blockers, which I primarily use to avoid hearing requests to do housework (I actually did not hear anything my mother said between 1987 and 1999). Kim avoided brainwashing by concentrating on the money we could earn by selling the aliens, which she could then use to purchase newer, more-fashionable aliens.

Selling Your Junk in a Buyer's Market

So we went through the usual yard sale preparations. Or more accurately, Kim did — my mental blockers being awfully difficult to remove once they're in place. Baubles, gewgaws, trinkets, curios, doodads, trifles, and whatnots were all diligently priced. Oversized and out-of-date fashions were culled from the herd, and sent to the holding pen where other clothes went and never came back. Brownies were baked, individually wrapped, and priced at two-bits — a easy way to capitalize on the customer too enraptured by our sale to go find sustenance elsewhere. Highly-effective signage was devised and placed, a welcome release after numerous restrained design-vigilante missions. Two-hundred and ten dollars in cash was drawn from the bank, in small bills, to guarantee that we'd be able to make change for any transaction. Finally, yesterday morning, the front yard was arranged; and we sat in the sunshine from 12 to 4 positively oozing commerce.

Final total: $7.10. ALL PROFIT.

Though, considering Kim and I ate 6 brownies between the two of us, that should probably be $5.60.

As you may have guessed, this was not result we were expecting. For one thing, I would have thought we'd sell at least one brownie. We almost had a sale early on, when a kid walked by the plate and said, "Look Mom! Brownies!". But I accidentally killed the transaction when I enthusiastically added, "Yup! They're made with YOGURT!" Things kind of went downhill from there. I think we could have made a bit more money if we offered to sell our "Yard Sale" signs to the neighbor who dropped by specifically to tell us how great our signs were. Of course, that was too early on in the day to consider such a desperate act. And actually, without those signs, I doubt we would have brought in our most lucrative sale — a couple that bought our two wedding self-help guides for $4.00. We probably could have sold the books for more, because the couple really appeared to be the kind that needs help, especially when the girlfriend angrily stormed away for some unknown reason (yogurt?). But hopefully the books will patch things up. Maybe we'll be invited to the wedding!

The Remains of the Sunday

The rest of our night was on the somber side. Not only were we still stuck with all this junk, now we had to haul it all back into the house. I suggested we get our favorite pizza, the Big Red, to help buoy our spirits; but it was a little sad to think that we didn't even make enough money to cover the cost of dinner. On the bright side, we have 30 lbs of brownies to eat; and almost all of the sale items can be donated to charity, so at least we'll be aiding the bauble-less. And let's not forget; somewhere out there is a family that's filling that 10-cent desk-tray with pens, pencils, staples, staple-removers, and rubber-bands — and maybe... if Kim and I played our cards right... a little happiness.

Kevin stops typing. Sighs contentedly. Looks around room.

Wow... I never noticed how many pens and pencils are just lying around here...

Comments on this Article

There are currently 24 comments.

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yay, first again, at last! just wanted to say that...I'll read the bloody thing now, aight? GEEZ! :|


Meh... I'll just summarize for you: I become a pornstar.


oh, so THAT's what you're using those brownies for...? GROSS!

Shaun Inman

A pornstar? Good luck getting any Google juice with that name. Kevin Cornell? Oh wait--

"...most of the material is revealed not to be junk, but cleverly-disguised telepathic aliens..."

So you guys finally kicked that Scientology craze? You know, you might have made more money if you claimed that your wares were possessed by the same body thetans as Tom and Katie. And Beck. And Travolta.

OMG, do you think that's what as in the case in Pulp Fiction? Body thetans?

Captain Purple

My wife and her sister had a yard sale a couple of years ago. Sweetie did all the hard work and the sister raked in gobs of cash.

I have a sour attitude towrads strangers looking through my belongs determining if it is worthy of their purchase. I found it helps to remind yourself that THEY are paying YOU for your trash.


I tried to have a yard sale once, but it was only after pilfering the local daycare of it's children. They were great... not only did they make adorable signs, they set them up around town by themselves, and even made pricetags to wear around their necks.

Quite profitable too. I'd suggest it to anyone.


Shaun - Hey! I just saw Pulp Fiction again yesterday on AMC! I reconfirmed my belief the case is filled with gold. Gold teeth.

Cpt. Purple - Yeah... I felt kinda lousy when people walked up, turned their head left... then right... then walked away. I guess I made some uninteresting purchases in the past...

Mattlat - Hey... If I had access to child labor, I'd put them to work on something more useful... like an addition to my house.


You didn't forget the "Yard Sale - Good Brownies!" Ad in the Daily Bugle did you!?!

Shane Guymon

When do we get to see the actual signage used for the yard sale?

thats what I want to see!

David Mark Allen III

Oh, I am so envious of you Kevin Cornell. I can just imagine the adventure. As you can tell I am not as fortunate as you to have a yard sale.


I'll give you my recipe for "special" brownies... teenagers LOVE them...


I think after my last garage sale, or sitting there for 15 over two days, and netting about $100, I decided that next time I wanted to make that kind of money, I'd just get a weekend job at McDonalds and give the stuff I no longer had room for to Goodwill and get the nice tax deduction.

Of course you figured it out too, if you can design, you're probably better off just selling signs than old junk.

Of course I did feel all warm and fuzzy selling my old SCSI 11x14 scanner with no power brick for $1.


Randallard - Crap... I put it in the "Yearly Bugle".... that explains a lot...

Shane Guymon - Haha - well, I thought about posting it, but then I realized it's really just my address, so I thought better of it. If Rob knew where I lived, he'd be over ALL the time, mishandling my antique teacups.

Monkeyinabox - Does McDonald's give weekend jobs? Could I walk into a McDonald's and start working that very day? I used to work in a Chik-Fil-A, and I remember there being a complex screening process...


Hah! We just had a garage sale this weekend too. We did a little better though... $389.25...


Sheesh! What were you selling? Space shuttles?


Well, my wife's family does all their shopping at garage/yard sales it seems, probably even grocery for all I know, so she had the expertise.

But to my untrained eye, it seemed as though the decent/fashioable things stayed on the shelves and the gaudy monstrosities flew off them. Maybe your stuff was too nice?

It's amazing what people will buy. Oh, and even more amazing, we didn't have anything priced over $5


Hmm..amazing signs - neighbour stopping signs - near profit making signs - design vigilante distracting signs - yet not a single sign shown. Interesting.....I'm not saying anything...just...interesting.


Haha - looks like I'm misleading everyone into thinking they're missing out... these aren't signs I'd hang in the Louvre or anything... but for a yard sale they do the trick... the info is all there, and they're legible from the intersection...


I think you may have had better success if your yard sale was from 8-12 instead of 12-4. All of the hardcore yard salers start early in morning, before they are awake enough to determine if they really need that fondue pot. Most hardcore yard salers assume all the best deals have been scooped up by 12. This advice comes from my mom, who is an expert yard saler and yard sale haver.


Ahh! Very interesting advice — thanks June!


Instead of yogurt brownies, you may want to try having a keg of beer. Charge people for beer, get their inhibitions down, and whammo blammo! They buy your stuff! Trust me. Only good could come out of this.


Well... it worked on Prom Night...

I sold my boutonniere for $34!


That's awesome.


Kind of how the day-to-day goes.. Sell your brain for little profit. Some 46 brownies later, all you have to show for your effort is a head ache and soar stomach. Love the little jax..

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