Melissa Carter: A yard sale eulogy

The International OCD Foundation says “acquiring too many possessions and difficulty discarding or getting rid of them when they are no longer useful or needed” defines hoarding. Members of my own family fit that description. However, their favorite excuse for hoarding is: “I’m getting ready for a yard sale.”

My girlfriend, Katie Jo, and her mother, Mama Jo, have been preparing for a yard sale for two years. That’s right, two years. The collection of materials for this anticipated event started in Mama Jo’s garage and slowly began to leak into ours. Our two-car garage became a one-car garage the first year, then a storage unit the following.

Even my conversations with Katie began to revolve around the illusion that these items would eventually be sold to a willing buyer.

“Don’t throw that away, because we’ll sell it in the yard sale.”

“That pile next to the door? It’s for the yard sale.”

“I’m sorry you can’t get to the Halloween decorations in the garage, but all this is for the yard sale.”

I simply got used to the clutter and privately rolled my eyes when the words “yard” and “sale” were mentioned in the same breath. Even when these two women would announce, “This is the weekend we’re going to have it,” I knew those plans would change. And it always did.

Until earlier this month.

I received an email from Mama Jo letting me know that she and Katie were taking Friday off from each of their jobs in order to spend the day preparing for a yard sale the following Saturday. That was a first, and a real commitment, to take a personal day to drag their booty into Mama Jo’s driveway and stick price tags on piles of stuff.

Despite this, I was still jaded and had to see it for myself. So come Saturday morning I arrived to find Katie still sorting through her mother’s garage for more items to drag out into the sunlight while Mama Jo held court with the potential buyers. She was sitting in a chair, petting her small dog, and discussing grandchildren with neighbors as they orbited the tables like ants looking for food.

By day’s end, the tally for all this preparation and effort came to about $200. Two years of two stuffed garages for $200. Break that down and it comes to $3.56 for every day I had to step over piles to get across our home. A few trips to Goodwill would have been more valuable.

Ironically I came across an online article that day, highlighting Ohio resident and frequent yard seller Amy Hill on her secrets to a successful yard or garage sale. And they are:

1. Advertise. Advertise everywhere. If people don’t know about it, they won’t stop by. Reality: Katie and her Mom had a few signs in the neighborhood.

2. Organize. Messy stuff every day is worth checking out. sell. Hill hangs old clothes, rath- er than stacking it, and puts similar items together. Reality: where there was table space, Katie put things on it.

3. Price correctly. Don’t overprice your stuff. Most people stopping by a yard sale want to pay $5 to $10 for a nice item, not $50. Reality: a rug remains in our possession with a $75 price tag.

And my addition to that list: Don’t Take So Long to Hold One. You’ll never collect the perfect set of valuables. It’s better to have several small yard sales than one extravaganza. It will never live up to your expectation, unless your goal is $3.56 a day.

Melissa Carter is one of the Morning Show hosts on B98.5. In addition, she is a writer for the Huffington Post. She is recognized as one of the first out radio personalities in Atlanta and one of the few in the country. Follow her on Twitter @MelissaCarter