The Most Important Rule in Yard Saling

Yard Saling is like chess. There are rules. Strategy. Triumph and defeat. Kings and pawns.

Q: Have I ever actually played chess?
A: No.

Q: Am I nonetheless confident enough in this analogy that I would include it in my version of the ACTs, should I ever be invited to rewrite the ACTs?
A: Obviously.

“Yard sale” is a word that can be a noun or a verb, like Smurf. The verb refers to any of the various activities related to attending yard sales: checking the classifieds for promising sales, driving to a sale, doing a drive by, cruising the tables, digging through boxes, paying, driving home, unloading your purchases, realizing they smell funny, cleaning them.

I have been honing my yard sale game nearly my entire life. The toddler in the picture below? That’s me, at a yard sale, about to buy a swank-ass bunny bear.


Through years of training I have learned the rules of the game. The most important rule of all being

The best yard sales are at old houses.

If you have the choice, always go to the old side of town first. I learned this lesson all over again recently. There were exactly two estate sales in the paper: one in a rich neighborhood and the other in an not-even-remotely-rich neighborhood. I hate to admit it, but I was seduced by the fancy ‘hood. And boy, was it a lame sale.

Brent and I got there before it opened for business, and so we joined the line of people waiting to get in. The elderly lady in front of us turn to look at us. Not to smile or greet us, but just to look at us somewhat sourly. Brent greeted her and then asked, “Is this the line for the Metallica tickets?” The lady maintained her sourball expression, but it did appear as though she was trying to decipher what Brent was saying. She leaned toward us cautiously. “The what?” she asked.

And that was the highlight of that sale. The stuff was not interesting to me, the sale was crowded and people were unfriendly. Nuts to all that.

But then we went on the other sale and it was a great one. Two strangers laughed at our jokes and engaged in banter with us (god, Brent and I are needy bastards) and it was at that sale that I was struck with the brilliant idea to find a cheap picnic table and put it out back behind our house on the land that is not our property. Inspiration! The land is this strip of woodland that is owned by the state, so it’s not like I’m taking over somebody’s backyard. Worst case scenario: the state is dumping nuclear poisons nearby, the poisons soak into the wood of the picnic table, I lick the picnic table and turn into a mutant.

Question for Brent! If my future picnic table turns me into a mutant, would you become a mutant too so that we could still be together? This would mean that you’d have to lick the picnic table.

For clarification sake, I didn’t actually get a picnic table at that sale, but look at what I did get:

2014-01-25 14.21.37

That first sale had nothing like this, I tell you.

In conclusion, don’t forget the most important rule in yard saling. Otherwise, you may miss out on things you really need.

8 Comments on The Most Important Rule in Yard Saling

  1. Haley
    February 27, 2014 at 12:45 pm

    I think Rob would lick the picnic table for me.. But we would let Alina live as human.. and then we would be her creepy mutant parents that lived in the dark basement. (I feel like we would like to live in the darker areas of the house once we were mutant.. no reason..) It sounds like a pre-teen book; “My Mutant Parents Live In Our Basement”…….

    As for garage sales- we are the exact same way with the people. We’re needy bastards too. We always banter with the owners (usually when they’re old.) and we crack knee slapping jokes and have a great ol’ time. We live in a retirement community so our garage sales can be pretty awesome.. and sometimes not so much. There are the little old ladies that sell every piece of their glassware, no matter how tiny or useless it is, along with their doily collections and the best ones are the VHS tapes.. or the endless copies of exercising/cook books no one wants anymore.

    Rob is the big garage saler in our house. He will always come home with something; chains for our tires in the winter (good one), a Motorola plug in that plays our iPhones in the Jeep (Great one), tools tools and more tools (boring to me) and I once bought a beer cozy for .25 which I was really stoked about because I had been searching for one to take camping. It’s always nice to find something you need at these sales!!

    • Sarah
      March 19, 2014 at 10:50 pm

      “My Mutant Parents Live in Our Basement”…ha! I can seen that as a pre-teen book, too. It would be an Apple Scholastic paperwork and the cover would have a couple kids holding their basement door shut while a tentacle reaches out. Maybe we should collaborate on our first novel! :)

      It is too bad that you guys live in another country because it would be great ridiculous fun to go with you guys. We’d weird people out all day long! We definitely see the little old ladies with their glass collections. We also see boxes and boxes of romance novels. It is pretty surprising how many people have giant romance novel collections for sale. Halequin must be like a billion dollar company.

      You just can’t beat a .25 bear cozy! We always find more stuff than what we need – and our house is really starting to see the effects. We’re becoming crazy bric-a-brac people. It’s getting out of control. We might need an intervention soon or we’re going to drown in all our stuff!

  2. Brent McCall
    February 27, 2014 at 9:06 pm

    I think you are implying that you licked the picnic table without motive before you turned mutant on me. Why did you do this? How many time do I have to tell you it’s not safe to lick used things (garage sale underwear, my deodorant top, trashcan bottoms, baby fontanels, murder weapons)? Also, what kind of mutant (x-men, the hills have eyes, Chernobyl kids, three toes longer than they should be (ah-hem), teenage mutant ninja tables etc.)?

    • Sarah
      March 19, 2014 at 11:01 pm

      Maybe I would stop licking your deodorant tops if you would stop using such delectable fragrances like “Fruit Loop Passion” and “Cadbury Creme Egg Nights.” You can’t expect me to not partake when I’m on the toilet with nothing to do and your edible deodorants are within reach. And what is a fontanel again? Is it a baby’s soft spot? Gross.

      • Haley
        March 25, 2014 at 11:23 pm

        I totally looked up baby fontanel as well..

        • Sarah
          March 27, 2014 at 4:47 pm

          fontanel is an upsetting word

  3. Jon H.
    March 20, 2014 at 12:42 pm

    Why is no one addressing the machine pictured at the end? What is it? Is it a shock therapy machine? I once was at a garage sale where someone was selling a moped. I kept watching all the awkward people demanding to test drive it and forgot about the rest of the sale. Hopefully there are some sales in my neighborhood this spring.

    • Sarah
      March 20, 2014 at 8:21 pm

      Clearly it is a body-swapping machine. It’s kind of outdated though. The technology is such that you can only switch bodies with Judge Reinholdt or Dudley Moore.


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