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Holly Swanson: Buy Our Junk, Please

by on May 01, 2012 6:00 AM

My family is getting ready to move. We are leaving behind the giant, fly-filled home that we've been renting for the past three years to purchase a normal-sized home across town.

This is a great opportunity for us to take inventory of the things we own, consolidate them, and simplify our lives.

I'm kidding. Moving sucks. There's really nothing good to say about it.

In the past, our moves have been simpler. My husband and I moved several times in the first years of our marriage, but now we have two children who, apparently, have to go with us. These two children do not take up much space, but their junk does.

So, we need to hold a yard sale.

I know people who are really passionate about yard sales. There are groups, usually made up of young moms, who plan their weekends around them. They meet early Friday and Saturday mornings armed with maps, coffee and donuts, then drive from neighborhood to neighborhood, vulture-like, looking for a rare and cheap fine.

I am not one of these people. I’ve frequented yard sales in the past and have been overwhelmed by the aggressive culture surrounding them. I think it’s worse to have your own sale ... strangers pawing through my things, haggling over prices, and generally passing judgment over my (junk) unneeded valuables.

We have avoided hosting a yard sale in the past by simply boxing everything up. Last week we discovered several boxes that were placed in an unused closet on our last moving day. Three years later, these boxes have never been opened and are now mysterious time capsules of things I clearly don’t need but can’t part with, for fear there is something sentimental or valuable inside.

But with the overabundance of already outgrown baby clothes, toys, and accessories, we will be purging our own (crap) wonderful treasures this Friday morning.

Getting ready for a yard sale is not for the weak-hearted. We’ve spent weeks piling up items and debating which infant carrier of our three we no longer need. My general rule is that if I’m not likely to look for it in the new house, it’s got to go.

After much nagging, my 8-year-old finally got in the yard sale spirit. He has, seriously, hundreds of toys, random Lego pieces, and books taking up space. He’s probably sitting on a goldmine of action figures, but he hoards everything just in case his little sister wants it someday.

A few days ago, though, he voluntarily hit the playroom with a large box. After an hour of loud noises and banging, he emerged with seven items he’s willing to part with, each one labeled with a price tag. It seems my son is greeting this yard sale with both optimism and a capitalistic nature that rivals Alex P. Keaton.

He seems to think that most of his items should go for their original retail price, like a book of Disney stories that he wants $12 for. After I explained that the point is to get rid of stuff and not make a ton of money, he was willing to come down half price. We’re lucky that he’ll be in school during the yard sale, otherwise I’d hate to see him negotiating over the price of Matchbox cars.

So if you notice a yard sale at the first house on Seibert Road, just past the airport, feel free to stop in and look for a treasure. My husband will be happy to engage you in small talk, but I’m not very friendly, especially in the morning. I’ll be the one clutching a cup of coffee and crying in the back while people poke around my things.

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Holly Swanson is a State College-based freelance writer. She is on Twitter @statecollegemom and can be reached via email at
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