yard sale etiquette

It’s summertime and who doesn’t like a really fun yard sale, right? Well there are rules. You are basically a guest on someone else’s property, so try to remember that. 

Are there rules? Maybe they aren’t written down or codified in our unspoken but yes, there are rules.

When you go to yard sale, you are in essence a guest at someone else’s house/property. So try to behave – just the way you would expect your children to (or one would hope.)

Respect the property you are visiting. 

Don’t let your kids just run all over if you bring them with you and please don’t let them just manhandle the goods. 

Leave your dogs at home. Even if the garage sale or yard sale you are going to has animals, it doesn’t mean they want yours there. 

Do not go trampling through their gardens and flowerbeds. 

Do not take yourself on an uninvited tour of the property or specific areas that they have said are off-limits. If the sale is at the head of the driveway, that’s where you stay – you don’t wander onto the porch or into the garage or God forbid into the basement or house.

Do not block their driveway or the neighbors’ driveways. If you are so unwell that you can’t walk a couple extra feet parking on the street, stay home. Also don’t speed on the street you are visiting for a yard or garage sale, their stuff will be there if you do the speed limit.

Don’t be an early bird. If the sign or ad says it starts at 9 AM or whatever the time is, respect that. Give people the time to set up without hawking over them. And those people who do the night before drive-bys and then stop with a flashlight to see if they can see things? Come on now, would you want that if it was YOUR home?

Haggling. If you are given a price on something and you want to counter politely, that’s fine. But aggressive haggling or lowballing to the point of being insulting? That’s just not nice, and it makes people not want to have garage and yard sales.

 People throwing garage and yard sales also don’t want those who believe in the power of the five finger discount. Stealing is morally reprehensible…and it’s also against the law.

Try not to get loud. Being loud and obnoxious at a garage or yard sale in order to get what you want makes it uncomfortable for everyone. Also try to go to the bathroom before you come to a garage or yard sale, because I’m sorry people do not want strangers in their homes or relieving themselves in  flowerbeds.

After the transaction is completed and the price is agreed-upon on larger items if you have to come and pick something up later, pay for it first. These people are not running a store. There is no staff to put something back into inventory and there is no inventory or warehouse. And when it comes to transactions, come to the sale with change and small bills like you would if you were going to a fleamarket for example.

Again, you are a guest at someone else’s home. Maybe they don’t have their yard or garage sale set up the way you would want it, but it’s their sale and you are a guest. So you either play by the house rules or you pick up your toys and go home.

And today we don’t just have real live garage and yard sales, we have the virtual kind that live the social media platforms Facebook. There are yard sale groups for all sorts of things. 

All yard sale groups have rules of some kind or another so try to follow them.  Not all yard sale groups sell or allow the same things, so read the rules or ask a yard sale group admin if something is OK or not if you are unsure even after reading the group rules.

Virtual yard sale groups have lingo. Common terminology includes but is not limited to the following:

Bump – Posted in the comments section of a sale listing BY the seller so that the item is placed back at the top of the feed. Most limit the amount of times you can bump an item.

PPU – pending pick up – that means seller and the buyer have come to terms and the seller is waiting for the buyer to come pick up the item and is not entertaining any other current offers at present.

Porch pickup –  porch pick up is fairly self-explanatory. It means you are picking up the item from the sellers home and a lot of times they will meet you on their front porch, or they will leave the item on the front porch and tell you where to leave the money. If somebody says porch pick up only you don’t ask them to meet in a supermarket parking lot. If you’re doing a porch pick up do it during daylight hours, if you’re doing a meet which is a mutually agreed-upon spot out in the public view, I also suggest doing that during daylight hours.

Meet up– A meet up is when you are meeting someone at a mutually agreed place to complete a transaction – if a person doesn’t have the comfort level of anyone coming to their home they might say I will meet you in the XYZ supermarket parking lot. If you do a public meet, use common sense. Meet in a visible location during daylight hours. Tell the other party what your car looks like and what time you will be there and stick to it. Exchange cell phone numbers in case someone runs into traffic.

Cross-posted or xp or OOS – cross posted (also known as XP) or OOS literally means an item is cross posted on other sites. That means the seller has the same item on multiple sites to maximize their exposure and chance of a sale.

ISO –  This means ‘in search of.’ People post these things when they are hunting an item they don’t see listed on a particular yard sale group at the time. These posts are not for sale posts however, they are just regular posts.  So don’t create such a post in the sale post form and put some made up number in the price line –  you aren’t selling something you are looking for something. It is also super annoying when you see people post in search of posts and the yard sale group has 10 of that item. So do a quick search of your group for what you are looking for before you post in search of.

PM – Private Message – this is what buyers and sellers should do to work out the kinks and details of the pick up and to answer questions. However if you are a buyer try not to message incessantly. If you are a seller try to answer your messages as promptly as possible. And remember if buyers and  sellers are not connected in anyway on Facebook you will have to look in Facebook’s dreaded “other” folder or in “message requests” if you use messenger,

Next – Next is what you say when you are literally the next person in line and you have interest in the item. Person A says “I’m interested I will private message you for pick up”. Person B says if they are interested “next”. And if the seller says sold pending pick up, people really should stop saying “next”.

NWT – This was something I didn’t know what it meant for the longest time. It means new with tags. If you then see NWOT that means new without tags.

Do virtual yard sale groups have etiquette in addition to the rules that are posted? Generally speaking yes but it all usually comes in the form of posted rules. Because the groups are virtual most will have codified rules that people should follow. It just makes it easier. If you don’t like the rules find a yard sale group you’re more comfortable with.

But as far as actual etiquette, it’s following the golden rule: do unto others as you would have others do unto you.

Be polite. Respond as promptly as possible. When you are arranging a pick up on either side of the deal, choose a time and stick to it. Everyone’s time is valuable. Delays like traffic jams happen. So do unforeseen circumstances like not having childcare suddenly, or getting stuck at work. Just communicate with each other as the buyer and seller. But if on either side of the transaction you have more than one instance where pick up or meet is canceled or you inexplicably get blown off, go to your group admin and see if it’s OK with them for you to move on to the next interested person because of that or if you are the buyer to just walk away altogether.

When you are a seller you should make your for sale post as clear as possible. A full description , your terms , your availability, price and PHOTOS . Put your photos in the body of your post. No one wants to chase photos in the comment section, and in most groups if you post something for sale and say there is no photo to post you will get deleted. After all you are on a social media site called Facebook which is driven by photos and it is not rocket science to add them.

When you are a seller don’t accept strange terms. Don’t let someone mail you a check , for example. I had that happened to a friend and it ended up the check was counterfeit. If you tell someone cash only and they show up with a check, you don’t have to accept that check.

Buyers when you were going to pick something up try to bring exact change. You are NOT going to a store you’re going to an individual. And buyers  when you say you are interested in something and you want to buy it don’t leave the seller hanging. 

What prompted this post on this blog? Observations at  a couple of yard sales this summer and a recent experience that is nothing short of frustrating as hell when trying to sell something on a local yard sale group.

We will start with a local and real yard sale/garage sale I went to recently. I went at the start time of the signs I saw. When I got there there were people who had shown up almost an hour early. That is so impolite. This homeowner is nicer than I would’ve been, because I actually have no problem telling people to leave and come back when we’re open for business.

At this real yard sale I also saw people going into places the homeowner specifically asked people not to be. This is something that truly bothers me because years ago I had a couple of neighbors who wanted to have a yard sale. They had people show up working as a team where one person distracted the yard sale throwers and the other person slipped inside their home and robbed them.  

At other  yard sales in the past, I have also seen people take things that weren’t  for sale and walk up to the homeowners and asked to buy them. In other words, they went where they weren’t supposed to be took items from wherever and walked up to the homeowners and said “I’d like to buy this.” The homeowners naturally responded “oh we’re sorry, that wasn’t in a public area and isn’t for sale.” And I watched one time where this person at a sale pitched a fit, end it was like watching a train wreck – you couldn’t look away. There was this person making a scene and it wasn’t something that was for sale. They basically trust past where they were NOT supposed to be and expected the homeowner to just say  “OK fine it’s five dollars.”

At a recent yard sale I watched in amazement as the homeowner try to work with someone wishing to purchase multiple items. That is what you call a bundle and a lot of times people will work with you and give you a slight discount if you’re buying a bunch of things together versus just one. I watched this man haggle over a very fair bundle price and basically lowballed to the point where the homeowner smiled graciously and said “no I am sorry I just can’t do that.”  The homeowner was so incredibly gracious. What a nice person.

At a recent real yard sale I also was somewhat amazed by the people that just showed up with dogs at someone else’s property without so much as even asking if it’s OK. Generally speaking, people don’t want to be rude about it, but you are indeed being rude by taking your animals onto someone else’s property that you do not know. Even if you know the person, they’re having a yard sale and they don’t want to have to keep an eye on someone else’s pets, nor do they want to deal with the inevitable which is someone else will be at the sale who is allergic or scared of dogs. Or the dog or dogs of the folks visiting the sale will want to get in a fight with the homeowners dogs if they are out.  Maybe nothing will happen, but that’s not the point.  It’s not a love me love my dogs situations. You bring your pets places where you have asked in advance if it’s OK or not.

Now most people expect people to show up to yard sales in the summertime with kids in tow. However the kids need to know the ground rules when they get out of the car from the parents. It’s not the job of the people throwing the garage or yard sale to babysit your children. And it is your responsibility as a parent, especially if your children are small to keep an eye on them and to not let them handle everything, especially breakables. Which brings me to another topic.

Why is it yard sales always seem to end up with the proverbial bull in the china shop? Accidents happen and it’s easy to knock over a glass for example and not do it intentionally. But what I’m talking about are the people that push everyone out of the way to get that item on the table and they don’t care if they knock stuff over and break other things to get to it. And these are the people that don’t say “oh I’m sorry let me pay for that”, they look at the people hosting the garage and yard sale like it’s their fault.

And let’s go to the inspiration or impetus of why I also wrote about virtual yard sale groups in this post. It’s a two-pronged approach: it’s my experience as a buyer and a seller, and as an admin.

I am an admin of one of the millions of yard sale group pages on Facebook. I share the duty with several other people. There are days when we just have a gabfest in messenger because we can’t believe the items we are having to delete, and the way some people behave.

This of course means when I am a buyer or a seller on a virtual yard sale group page I try harder then probably a lot of people to make my transactions go smoothly. Because I sit in the catbird seat of observing as an admin of one page, I really try to follow the rules of whichever group I am in, and  try extra hard to be nice and accommodating. 

Well right now, I am in a transaction that has been going on for a week. I picked the brain of one of the group admins yesterday, and this morning I wrote to them that  want to message the buyer politely  to let the buyer  out of the transaction if need be. Now I’m going to tell all of you why.

I have this nice area rug. I decided it didn’t go with the decor in a room any longer. So I decided to pull it off the floor. When I did that, I didn’t just toss it in the attic, I sent it out to be professionally cleaned and mothproofed.

When the rug came back I lived with it for a few weeks all rolled up in the attic until I decided it was taking up too much space and I wanted to sell it. All I want out of it is close to what I paid to have it cleaned and mothproofed.

Now this rug is not some antique prized Persian carpet, but it is nice. So it’s not going to be $10 on a yard sale group. I dragged it out of the attic, unwrapped it and inspected it to make sure the people I had paid to clean it did their job. 

After I ascertained  that they had done what I paid them to do, I measured the rug and I took lots of photos and I posted it with a complete description on a couple of yard sale group pages. I had varying indications of interest, and a couple of people who measured or asked their spouses and came back and said no I’m sorry I have to pass. I have no problems with that. 

Shortly before the Fourth of July weekend was about to begin – as in last Thursday someone came along who wanted to buy my rug. They asked for my indulgence when I got back to them because they were out of town. I agreed although I didn’t have to because the general rule of thumb is if you agree to purchase something, you pick it up within a couple of days. If you aren’t going to be home or are out of town, you arrange for someone to pick it up and pay for it on your behalf and you clear that with the seller first. But I thought I don’t want to be a hard ass about it, I will give this person the benefit of the doubt. My prospective  buyer said they would connect at the end of fourth of July weekend.

So Tuesday rolls around and I still haven’t heard from my prospective buyer. So I do what you’re supposed to do which is to tag them on the sale post and say that you’re trying to connect and send them a private message. My prospective buyer leaves a comment back on the sale post that she is private messaging me. Actually she was at that point responding to my private message but I’m not going to split hairs.

This person then proceeds to ask me a bunch of questions about the item that were somewhat redundant, but in an effort to keep the sale moving forward I answered them to the best of my of my ability. I will admit I was at somewhat of a loss how to answer question would her employee have an allergic reaction to the rug because I have pets.

Huh? 

So basically I say once again that I had paid to have rug  professionally and mothproofed. I explained again that I had to unroll the rug in my clean house to photograph it for the yard sale sites, and then I rolled it back up again with dryer sheets in it to make sure it stayed as fresh smelling as it was when I unrolled it back from the rug cleaners. I pushed away any feelings that I was insulted because I have a clean home. I told them if they were worried about their employee then they should have it cleaned again. (I mean, what else could I say?)

My buyer said that  it was OK and could I do a pick up with her sometime later this week because they were trying to give their employees a break before they got busy again.  I wasn’t sure what that has to do with me exactly but what I said was that was fine. But then I also said I would like her to give me the day that she would like to pick up. I also gave her some hours where it wouldn’t work for me as the seller.

 OK now it is later in the week.  And she has not told me when she is picking it up. I have now held onto this item for this prospective buyer for a week. Normally people don’t do that because people take advantage.  I think I’ve been accommodating enough. 

Yes, it’s a bigger item so it won’t necessarily sell as quickly as something smaller. I don’t have to sell this item, I am choosing to sell this item. I have worked with this prospective buyer for a week now. Just to make sure I am following all the rules correctly, I am running it up the flagpole with the admins of this group to make sure they are OK with it. Maybe, this will all work out because the buyer is just having tough week. I hope so. But if not, what time is valuable to and if I have to move on to the next buyer I would like to do it sooner rather than later.

We live in a ever evolving world, which means even our garage and yard sales are changing. We have them still seasonally in real time, and virtually year round. But we are all grown-ups, or sre supposed to be, so we should try to be considerate regardless of if it is a real actual yard sale or garage sale or a virtual one on Facebook.

Am I Emily Post? No. But I think good manners should never go out of style even with the humble garage sale , virtual or real.

Thanks for stopping by.

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One thought on “yard sale etiquette

  1. Some great points. I love going to sales, but gave up on having them years ago because of the rudeness of people. I do sell on Craig’s List and although there are still issues with these sales, there are far less than when I had garage sales.

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