Rather than profile a single business this week, I’ve decided to talk about a seasonal industry that flourishes each year in our area: The Yard Sale. The 2012 season is just kicking off, and people all across the Penobscot Valley are gearing up for their weekly shopping excursions. Yard Sale-ers (Sailors?) range from the casual browser to the hard-core hunter/gatherer, and soon will be making their rounds to the sales that spring up around our towns.
Chasing sales is in many ways similar to chasing tornadoes: you never know exactly where one will pop up. Some folks are organized enough to plan their sales well in advance, and expect a big enough haul to justify taking out an ad in a local paper. But newspapers have deadlines, and the ideas for many sales aren’t hatched until sometime after Tuesday at 5pm.
The weather also plays a part, and no one wants to pay good money to advertise an outdoor sale only to have a monsoon move in later in the week, discouraging all but the most rabid of shoppers.
The more dedicated Yard Sale-ers like to strategize their weekend runs well in advance to maximize their opportunity to score. These are the folks who have their faces pressed to the door glass at the Lincoln News, hoping to be the first to get advanced warning on the upcoming sales. They will plot their route for maximum effectiveness, trying to leave time in the schedule for any unadvertised sales they may stumble across as they rush from point to point on their map.
TV has helped to fuel the frenzy in recent years. Older favorites like PBS’s Antiques Roadshow have been joined by cable shows like American Pickers (one of my favorites), Storage Wars, and even Pawn Stars. All of these programs whet the appetite of yard sale shoppers everywhere by showing huge scores on incredible finds. But at the core, many yard sale aficionados from our neck of the woods are motivated by more down-to-earth factors: namely, surviving this economy.
In an attempt to understand what drives the Yard Sale-ers in our midst, I posted a question on Exploring Lincoln’s Facebook page, and also a couple other pages that are dedicated to area yard sales. I asked the folks there why they like to shop yard sales, and most of the responses had a similar ring to them, and broke down into one of two categories. The first was the need to be thrifty. Comments like Melissa’s “My kids grow too fast to spend hundreds at the mall on clothes. Finding a ‘name brand’ slightly used shirt at a yard sale for $1 is a wonderful thing!” and Alicia’s “When your kids are still growing it’s so much cheaper to get clothing (especially summer clothing) on a yard sale rather than sinking cash into things they will outgrow within months” epitomize the Yard Sale-ers desire to save money wherever they can.
The second sentiment shared by many of the hard-core yard sale shoppers was the thrill of the hunt. Nicole says ‘it is about finding that “treasure” at a good price before the other “competition” gets there’, and Holly added “it’s such a blast to see those familiar faces, and joke about ‘elbowing them out’ so i can get the stuff before they do!” It is a friendly competition, though, as many of these folks share the yard sales they find with each other, and even keep an eye out for items they know their fellow sale-ers are looking for.
In an attempt to try to meet the needs of both groups – those looking to save and those serious about the hunt – ExploringLincoln.com and the Penobscot Valley Explorer offer several yard sale features. The first is free yard sale listings for individuals. Non-commercial yard sales can be listed in the paper and the website free of charge to encourage as many people as possible to publicize their sales. And to make it easier we’ve setup a web page where you can submit your listing whenever it is convenient. No more racing to the newspaper office before business hours close, or standing in line at the counter.
The second feature we offer with each listing is Google map integration. We provide a map with pins for all the area sales to help shoppers plan their attack. No more driving in circles looking for a sale. And for the shoppers looking for a jump on the competition we have an email subscription list. Each Wednesday we’ll send out a weekly digest of sales to all who sign up.
To see all we have to offer head to www.exploringlincoln.com/yardsale . And happy hunting. As Suzette said on Facebook, “Someone’s trash is someone else’s treasure…and I love treasure…”
About the AuthorSteve Brown is the founder and CEO (Chief Exploring Officer) of Exploring Lincoln, and also the regional manager for the Penobscot Valley Explorer. If you’d like to contact him, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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