My family and I organized a yard sale a few weeks ago in an effort to minimize the amount of material clutter in our home. It is incredible to me how much stuff continually accumulates in our living spaces — despite being somewhat fastidious about maintaining a systematic, aesthetically pleasing home. Oh, stuff… how you elude me with your mysteriously multiplying ways.
Our 7-year-old daughter was more than just interested in helping out with preparations for the yard sale. She also wanted to create a lemonade stand as an additional attraction. I encouraged her enthusiasm and decided to display some of my handmade jewelry pieces in addition to the various toys, puzzles, books and small appliances we were hoping would find new homes. I also felt inspired to paint and decorate some fun, reusable yard sale signs as a way to integrate my own creativity into this Saturday event.
The morning of our yard sale & lemonade stand arrived and we were all set to go. My daughter made the jug of lemonade herself and prepared all of the necessary items like cups, her sign, a small money box. We walked around the neighborhood and hung our signs. We were open for business.
It was slow going. People would come by the house in waves, it seemed… which was interesting to me. I knew that it wasn’t going to be constantly swarming with people, as we live a bit off the closest main road. And that was okay. It was enjoyable, actually. It was amusing to me to watch how my daughter would interact or… not interact with the different people who stopped by to check things out. I was engaged with people in a completely different way than what I am typically accustomed to, and it felt refreshing and also… kind of weird. But weird in a good way.
There was one guy who came to look around who didn’t speak English (we live in a predominantly Spanish-speaking neighborhood). He looked at my jewelry for a good 10 minutes, then proceeded to a small shelf of antiques I had set out. He picked up this old hand mixer utensil made from wood and metal. He stood there for nearly 5 minutes rotating the handle, watching the mixer spin around and around and smiling at the sound of the revolving metal. I was certain that he would purchase this hand mixer, as his piqued interest was clearly obvious. Alas, he purchased nothing in the end… which was fine! The experience of watching him interact with the hand mixer was worth so much more than the $5 I was asking for it.
We had a box on display that was full of new, unopened device covers that my husband had somehow acquired last year sometime. I think we had priced the covers at $2 each. What was so interesting to me about this particular box was that every single person who walked through the yard sale looked extensively at these device covers and yet… not one of them was sold. Funny…
My daughter sold a few cups of lemonade, mostly to our sweet elderly neighbors who came over to pay homage to our efforts and purchase some items both out of necessity and just simple kindness. The woman who lives across the street from us is in her late 70s and we chat with her occasionally if we happen to be outside at the same time. She came over to say hello, buy a cup of lemonade and visit for a bit. She saw that I was selling a small pitcher and bowl set that had been my grandmother’s. It is a beautiful little set, but it had been sitting in a box for years and – realistically – it is not something that I need to keep. Our neighbor insisted that she purchase it in order to save it for me for someday after “she is gone.” Being from a different generation with different principles surrounding sentimental objects, I found it touching that she would make this sort of gesture on my behalf.
The day progressed and the visitors followed a rhythmic ebb and flow pattern. We sold some things, some others remained complacently awaiting someone to notice them and take them home. Even objects of high interest can’t always find a new taker. And I cannot force myself to be a keeper in the interest of buffering the feelings of a lovely, but albeit, unnecessary inanimate object.
The point I really want to make here is this:
If you have children who are old enough to participate in and understand the process of hosting a yard sale and/or lemonade stand, working together to organize this kind of experience is a fascinating endeavor and one I would not pass up. It’s not like we have to have a yard sale every other weekend or even every month. It could even be a one-time special event for your family. The opportunity to interact with people on this kind of level and for your children to observe and participate in these unique exchanges is an amazing learning affair.
Organizing any sort of small, family-oriented, neighborhood event is an outstanding way to help your children integrate the principles of community, responsibility, social and monetary exchange, entrepreneurship and mathematics into their development… all of which are significant in becoming successfully integrated into one’s surroundings.
My own dream is to someday have a garden large enough and time enough to open a neighborhood-farm produce and product stand. I envision my children, husband and myself working together as a team to share the fruits of our labor with the people living around us — even if we do not speak their language. And maybe make a small, supplemental income in the process. Or better yet… maybe inspire change on a small level by being an advocate for community, neighborhood partnerships and bringing back a certain way of social interaction that has gone missing from too many other avenues in our modern society.