Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Yard Saling in a Down Economy

As this recession/slowdown/downturn/whatever it is drags on, the road to recovery seems slow and full of struggles.  Lots of folks are making decisions and choices they weren't a few years ago.  And it's creating all kinds of odd paradoxes.

For one thing, they're holding onto things longer.  Over all, it seems like yard sales have been smaller in recent years.  People are using things longer, so they're not replacing them and then selling the older items.

At the same time, more people are out shopping looking for bargains on used items that they might have bought new not so long ago.  For many families, this has become a necessity for household items and kids things, especially clothes.  Folks who deal in necessities at flea markets have been seeing strong business, even when other vendors in the same mall have problems.

This, in turn, has created a down market for non-necessary items.  Folks are trying to unload their collectibles for cash into a market where everyone else is doing the same thing.  At the same time, buyers are focusing their cash on things they need, rather than want.  That set they thought was going to be worth hundreds may struggle to bring in 20 or 30 bucks.

Which in turn makes it harder for vendors who sell collectibles.  There are more choices out there and prices are better than they've been, but there are also fewer people for them to sell these bargains too. I know folks who are passing up things they would have jumped on at twice the price just a couple of years ago.

Yet, despite this, there are all kinds of people jumping on the re-selling bandwagon, thinking that it will be an easy way to get some quick money.  These folks aren't prepared for the amount of work it takes or for the reality of this economy, so they're making poor choices and aren't lasting very long.

Perhaps the saddest indicator of the way things are now is the "rent yard sale."  If you pay attention, you'll notice that there are a lot more sales popping up around the end of the month, often unorganized and unadvertised.  Some families are grabbing whatever they can find and trying to sell it on the front yard to keep the roof over their head another month.  It's not uncommon to see someone drag a box of stuff into a secondhand store to try and get enough for a tank of gas or two.  Folks will do what they have to do.

I know that things are a little better than they were at the start of the recession,  I also know we have a long way to go.  I'm able, with my reselling, to make a contribution to my household income, and I'm extremely happy to be able to do so.  But, sometimes, especially in this election year, I can't help but think about all of the other sides and stories there are right now.  That person trying to work out a deal on those pots and pans may really need them and really need the better price they're asking for.  It's something to ponder.

I've yard saled and thrifted forever and been a reseller since 2009.  Sometimes, I have to sit and ponder the bigger picture and where and how I fit into it.  And how what I do impacts that bigger picture and the lives of others.  It's odd to think that something that I do for fun and profit is something other people depend on right now.  You know?


4 comments:

Roger Owen Green said...

so I suppose you wouldn't want to be an economist, either...

We are: clamco said...

EM,
It's my observation that the boomers (like myself) who appreciate and recognize vintage and antique items are the same ones who are downsizing and getting rid of them. They are also selling off their parents' estates. The younger generation doesn't seem too interested in buying antiques, however, the mid century modern stuff seems to be hot right now. What I have noticed at yard sales is a preponderance of baby clothes and toys. I do better finding my items at those "grandma's estate" sales.
Lorraine

EM said...

Roger, you are so determined to take all of the fun out of my life, aren't you?

Roger Owen Green said...

I thought I was ADDING joy to your life!