What is a monkeybox?

When I was a little girl, we had a pet monkey named Amanda. My Dad worked in the produce business, so each night he brought home that days culls in a big box - spotty cucumbers, pithy apples, limp celery, moldy oranges and the like. We called it a monkeybox. It was really just trash, but my Mom would take each piece of fruit and trim it, pare it and cut it up to make a beautiful fruit platter for Amanda. Even though it was deemed trash by one, it still had life left in it and was good for the purpose we needed it. That's how I live my life - thrifting, yard saling, looking for another's trash to be my treasure.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Estate Sale is O-V-E-R!

Whew.  It is OVER.  Well, sort of.  We still have some things listed on Craigslist and a lot of random things to box up and donate.  But, the SALE is OVER.  Wooohoooo!  It was so much work to get ready to have not to mention the actual having of the sale.  I got up at 5:00 am and then had to travel about thirty minutes each way each day.  So by the time I got home Friday night I was exhausted.  The house has these weird steep steps that led down into the den, which is a converted garage, and they are very difficult for this 5'2" shorty to maneuver.  I mean I can do them once or twice or maybe even ten times in one day, but I honestly think I walked up and down them a thousand times each day.  By Saturday night, my knees and legs were screaming.  But, last night I got about ten hours of much needed sleep and some much needed rest and I feel much, much better.

Here are the stories and things that I want to remember and some things I learned as well.

We had a big sign on the door that said OPEN AT 9:00, so people started lining up about 8:30, which made me happy because I envisioned NO ONE coming after all my hard, hard work.  The first guy in line decided to turn around and lean on the house while he chatted with the other people in line - they all seemed to know each other so they must be the local yard sale-ing crew.  Anyway, where he chose to lean was where the doorbell button was, but he didn't realize it.  After about ten minutes of straight DING DONG * DING DONG * DING DONG * DING DONG * DING DONG we gave in and opened the door.  I opened the door and said "WHO IS RINGING THE DOORBELL?" and they all about collapsed laughing and pointing at the guy who turned every shade of red.  I laughed and smiled at him so he knew I wasn't mad - I knew it was an accident - and said, "You can all come in early just so he will quit DING DONG'ing!"

When I stepped aside to let them in, I had no idea that nearly everyone of them was going to RUSH to the  jewelry table and whip out their loupes to look at every single piece.  Well, sorry, this ain't my first Rodeo - I had already done that.  There wasn't a drop of gold or silver on that table.  There was still plenty of good usable jewelry and lots of fun costume jewelry and some things worth some money.  Just not silver and gold.  My Grandmother was the type of person that wanted lots and lots of cheaper stuff rather than a little bit of good stuff anyhow.

Some people can be rude.  No matter what an item is priced, they want it cheaper.  Ten dollars, no they want to pay five dollars.  Ten cents, they will give you a nickle.  Every single time.  But, people can also be very generous like the guy that I charged a dollar for an old razor and he said it was just like his Daddy's so he gave me six dollars.  People truly need things area are grateful for what they can find at yard sales.  We had a young Native American woman and her three small children come in the house.  I noticed that she was buying towels, washcloths, sheets, blankets, bars of soap, half used bottles of cleaning products, etc.  I asked her if she was setting up home and she said she was trying to start over and it was hard.  I don't know what the circumstances were behind her needing everything, but the more she bought, the less I charged her.  She ended up spending $25.00, but I think she left with over $100.00 worth of things at our prices, so probably $500.00 worth of stuff that she might have gone to purchase or not have had the money at all.  She was so happy with her things and we were happy that she found them.

Everyone has a story and they are DYING to tell someone.  I am not kidding.  I cannot believe the stores that people told us.  It was like we were a captive audience so they just stood in front of us and talked and talked and talked.  One man stood and told us his entire life story including how his 30 year younger wife left him for the Preacher and how he needed a house and how he was an Architect and yadda yadda and all we had actually asked him was, "What is your dog's name?"  When he left, he let in a lady who talked for about twenty straight minutes about her ex husband dying while she looked for her twenty dollar bill.  When she finally found it and handed it to The Bean, she kept digging in her purse for some unknown reason then looked up and The Bean was looking at her twenty because it looked different.  She had actually handed him a 1950 $20.00 Silver Certificate instead of a regular twenty.  Then she had to dig in her purse again to find the other twenty and just kept on talking.  When she finally left, she turned around and said she would be back with her daughter.  We all just did a big air suck, like "Oh God, NO!"  She didn't come back.  Whew.  She was nice enough, but golly she was a talker. (Wouldn't that have been a nice treat to find a Silver Certificate in our cash drawer at the end of the day?)

One older man came up to me and said, I know it took you forever, but thank you so much for pricing everything.  I hate it when things aren't priced.  I told him I was practically a professional at going to yard sales and that is my pet peeve too.  I told  him I knew people liked to haggle, but at least it gave us a starting point.  He agreed and said that I had done an excellent job.  He returned the next day to have a look around and tell me all the people he had sent over to shop.  Including his wife  - who made an impression on me when she bought some framed dog portraits - that story later.

For those of you that looked at the Estate Sale blog I set up and were wondering about he half mannequin.....My dad bought a bunch of those when JcPenney's closed down and then he passed them out to the women in the family as silly jokes.  He gave one to my Grandmother, who used to have a pretty good sense of humor and it turned out to be one of her favorite things.  No one even looked at it on Friday, but the first guy in the door on Saturday wanted to know if the mannequin was still there.  He had driven all the way out there hoping to get it for his vintage store. My Grandmother would be happy to know that it will be used at a store again and I now have a cool new vintage store to check out. 

One of the first guys in the door wanted to buy a stack of cement blocks.  He offered a really low offer, but frankly, I didn't think anyone would ever want to buy them. Plus, I certainly didn't have it in me to move and unload 35 cement blocks.  (As it turned out, I could have sold those damn blocks about twenty times that day - who knew?).  When he paid he told me that he would be back the next day, so I asked him his name so I could make a SOLD sign.  He told me that his name was Don, but there were two Don's there but he was the good looking one.  So, he became Good Looking Don the rest of the weekend.  Well, when Good Looking Don came back on Saturday to pick up his blocks, not only did he take his pile of blocks, but he walked around the house, the garage, the shed and gathered up all the stray ones including the ones were were using to hold doors open and using to stand on to reach things.  I still can't believe he took every single one.

The second lady in the door was a lady that had been there on Friday.  She had bought a bunch of fabric the first day.  She found some more that she wanted and laid it on the table.  I said, "That will be three dollars, please."   She said, "That is more than I want to pay."  Like that was okay - just pay what you want and be on your merry way.  I said, "Well, then how about TWO dollars?"  She said, "I don't even like this material, it isn't what I used for my quilts" and held a dollar out to me.  For some reason, this got under my Mom's skin and she said, "You can have it for a dollar fifty".  She just kept saying dollar fifty, dollar fifty and finally the old lady pulled two more quarters out of her purse and huffed off.  It was really the principal of the thing - she came back for that darned fabric and wanted it for zilch!  My Mom was not going to let her get away without that fifty cents.  Cracked me up!

I called one lady the "Skunk Eye Lady" - no matter what price I quoted to her - she would just stare at me and give me the skunk eye until I came up with a better price.  She was this tiny old lady probably about eighty years old, but she just gave me this look.  Gave me chills!  I bet her husband and her kids got that look a LOT!  Brrrrr!  She, of course, came to the sale three times.  But I figured her out and we ended up getting along pretty good.  She was watching me go here and there and in and out and she said, "I know a little girl that is going to be tired tonight" and I said, "I know! I know!  Me! Me!" and she laughed.  (Calling me a "little girl" was a good call on her part - she got some lower prices than she was geting when she was giving me the Skunk Eye.)

I've always read in articles that when you have a sale that the people that buy your things aren't paying for the memories or the sentiments attached to the items.  And, that is true.  However, when you buy something there just might be some memories attached and they might want to share them with you.  I personally like stories attached to certain items like my Aunt Margie photo I recently bought.  So, my Grandmother was a professional photographer and owned a prominent studio in Topeka.  She did all the portraits of the Governor's that still hang in the State Capitol and the House of Representatives and Senators from Kansas as well as Miss Kansas each year.  She was well respected within the city and state for her photography.  She also loved dogs and always had one or two dogs her entire life.  She loved to take beautiful portraits of her dogs.  These portraits were nicer than most people can afford of their actual children.  In the house were all these professionally framed portraits of all her dogs.  I knew that no one was really going to want the dog photos, but the frames were old ones - ornate and heavy and worth a pretty penny back in the day and even now to those of us that love old frames.  So, I priced all these portraits for the value of the frames only.  When one lady came along and made a bulk offer for all of them, I commented that those were all my Grandmother's dogs.  She said, "I don't give a damn about the dogs."  Well, I must say, that took me aback and I blurted out, "Sorry - it's just that these are my DEAD Grandmother's DEAD dogs and I thought I might mention it."  A little bit later, she came and handed me all the dog portraits that she had carefully removed out of the frames.  She said that she was an artist and only wanted the frames anyway.  Which I already knew.  I didn't want the dog portraits in the first place because we all have smaller prints of them already.  The point to this very long paragraph is that she was rude, but she figured it out and apologized in her own way.  She got a good deal on those nice frames too and she knew it.  Now, does anyone need any dog photos?   
One last story.  The old man next door came over fifteen times in two days to look at the washer and dryer.  In and out.  In and out.  He really really wanted them - he knew they were practically new, but he wanted them for practically nothing.  He kept low balling our already low price.  Friday passed and no one bought them, so he took that as an opportunity to offer even less for them on Saturday.  He would stand in the laundry room and just stare at them for like thirty minutes straight, which, in my eye was his ploy to keep anyone else from looking at them.  He magically reappeared at 3:45, fifteen minutes before the sale ended, to offer one more, even lower price.  Niiice.  Like he was doing us a favor by "taking them off our hands". Cue the angel choir when the front door opened ten minutes before we closed down and a nice lady and her Reverend husband came in and bought the washer, the dryer, the refrigerator, the deep freeze AND the oven for $1200.00.  SCORE!   The old man hoped in and started offering MORE than he was offering earlier, but my Mom just told him, "Sorry,  They are SOLD."  I am pretty sure the old guy has enough money to go buy three of each at Lowe's, but he is a real penny pincher.

Starting last night and still today, people are emailing me asking if things are still available.  I have sold quite a few things since we closed up last night, so that is helpful to get the house cleaned out.  I honestly never thought about even doing that.  Have you ever emailed about things after a sale? I guess it's a good idea.  I just never thought about it.

I learned the art of haggling, even though I do not haggle at sales - start out high and work your way to what you wanted in the first place.  It worked nearly every time. 

I also learned that when you fifteen year old son is the only male at a sale, people expect a lot out of him. He was carrying dressers and cement blocks and concrete cowboy planters and bags of stuff and chairs all day long.  He was a sweaty hot mess.  He did it willingly, it was just that people expected him to do it.  I also learned that he had a secret desire to own something in the house that I had no idea he wanted.  Something that horrified me to the core. 
OMG, as they say.  I said that it is NOT allowed in the house as we have no room for a five and a half foot metal armoured knight inside.  He will stand guard in the garden for now.  The funny thing is that most of the family hated this thing for numerous reasons including his not child friendly sharp spear and is sharp edges that sometimes catch on your clothes.  Everyone was delighted to see him go in the sale, including my Uncle who had a fervent desire to shoot him and run him over with a truck.  But, now he lives at our house, where the family memories can live on forever!

Well, once again you made it through the entire post.  You win a MILLION DOLLARS!  Woohoo!  *I kid.*   Thanks for reading and hanging with me through all this mess.  It is nearly over and I cannot wait! 


  1. I read the whole thing and was a entertaining sale...I agree with you about some of the stories that people tell - on and on they go. Sometimes they finish talking and I actually wonder what they were even rambling on about. Glad it was successful - tis over with - get some well deserved rest! Good job to the Bean for being so helpful too and getting such a wonderful reward for his hard work!

  2. Whew! It was a long weekend for you! Glad it went so well and that you sold so much. People can be so nice and they can be so rude...sounds like you had some of both. I am laughing that your son wanted the 'tin man'...lol. hugs, Linda

  3. Whew! It is exhausting just reading that, much less having to do it! I think it is incredibly sweet what you did for the lady starting over. I have done that too. I put some stuff out by the curb that was leftover from auction box lots - just junk. Some lady was so excited over that stuff! I kept adding good stuff with it because I felt so sorry for her. I even went to the henhouse and gathered some eggs to give her lol.

  4. Always great stories from the other side of the til. Glad it was a success after all of your work.

  5. Shara, you survived and lived to tell about it. While I love to go to estate sales,I always remember that this was someone's home and has a lot of memories. Not everyone thinks that way obviously. I know you and your mama are glad to get this behind you.
    And it sounds like The Bean deserves this "family treasure" after all his hard work.

    Woo Hoo, I could use a million dollars.

  6. Wow, loved reading the whole tale on the sale! You are so right about being a captive audience and loved your helping the woman with the kids - you have a big heart Shara and I know the karma of it will come around. Am glad the Bean got the knight if he really wanted it - LOL - too soon he will be off on his own with it and a great story to tell! Have a good week and get some well deserved rest!

  7. I am SO GLAD T.B. came through for me on The Knight!! I couldn't believe you were letting that little gem get away 8-) ! He Rocks! Happy early 16th to T.B.!!
    (and HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO SHARA! ~ you survived!)

  8. I thoroughly enjoyed your entire post and all of the stories about the people. I have never had a yard or estate sale myself, only taken some of my stuff to a friend's sale. My husband is loathe to part with anything that belonged to his parents, and we moved into the 70 year old fully furnished house he grew up in. Plus we are both collectors. It's kind of a nightmare. I could almost FEEL how much work you all had to have done! And I'm glad it sounds like you did well at the sale. Phew - glad for you that it's over!

  9. That was a GREAT read! Thanks so much for sharing the details with us. You have a way with words, and the stories you share are great. Now go rest! :-)

  10. Shara thank you so much for this wonderful story! First good thing I've read all day I'd say. I felt like I was there beside you...minus the aches and pains. I think The Bean has WONDERFUL taste and had I been able to get to your sale, he and I would have had a fight over that knight. (If he ever turns up missing from your garden he may have found his way to Ohio).
    After reading about all your hard work I'm starting to look over all my posessions. Might be time to start thinning the herd so my kids won't have to? Nahhhhh....one final zinger from good ol Mom,right?

  11. Do you have pics of the dog prints? Any Briard or Schnoodles/Poodles?

  12. I read the whole thing and had flash-backs to the weekend we did my grandparents sale! You always make me laugh out loud when I read your posts! I guess I can relate too much! I'm glad for you that couple showed up at the end for the appliances!

    My son was the fetch-it, haul-it boy at our sale too. Hope you get a chance this week to put your feet up and relax a bit after all of your hard work!!!

  13. This post read like a novel. It was so informative and entertaining.

    Thank you for sharing this weekend with us

  14. I stuck with you to the end! A ton of work, but sounds like it went well overall - hope you are enjoying a well deserved rest on your birthday. And yay for the Bean on getting the knight - you know if you would just let the knight in the house, he would make a good companion for Hazel...maybe you could dress him for the holidays too.

  15. Wonderful stories, Shara. I always enjoy your writing! And now I need to see the dog portraits, lol.


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