Making my own Sun

How we made our own sun
The person who says it’s impossible should not interrupt the person doing it.

This old Chinese saying is about how you make your own success. I had a plan to make a yard sale since I needed to empty an apartment, but the massive amount of rain that was supposed to come down on the only weekend that made sense for us was really problematic, it seemed that the weather did not care about our need for a nice weekend. Spending the whole week before the yard sale looking at the reports hoping to that it would change seemed to have little effect on the forecast. This gave us a simple choice: do we go ahead in the rain, or waste the best date we had.

Having a yard sale while it rains is a bad idea, even if customers show up everything for sale would be destroyed by the water. I was trying to think of any possibility that would enable me to proceed. My first idea was to have it inside, but that would mean very limited visibility. People look from their car to see if something catches their eye. I was down to looking at the hourly rain predictions to see how many hours we could have the stuff out, which is a terrible strategy, but all that was really coming to mind.

By the Friday night before my brother and I were planning to have the yard sale come hell or high water, the latter being much more likely. Our cousin had found a ten by ten feet canopy so that we could have some stuff out even if it was raining. I was hopeful for the first time of the week, and remembered that these canopies sold for around seventy dollars, which would enable us to have two tables that could be sheltered from the rain, not enough to make it a success as the more stuff you have out the more people stop, but just enough to avoid a complete disaster. Our main goal was to get rid of stuff, but I still did not want to spend more money than I would make, which would be a distinct possibility with only two tables. Also, being stuck with a canopy was counterproductive, so I was looking for a better solution. I had an epiphany. I could buy lumber and tarps, the lumber could be recovered for future use since we were planning a renovation and tarps are always useful. For the price of one ten by ten shelter I could build a sixteen by sixteen foot shelter.

My brother-in-law told us that we were giving ourselves too much trouble as only six people are likely to show up

But I was on the high of a good idea and was not going to let anything get in my way. I quickly put my new plan in motion, got four tarps and thirty-two two by threes’. We were up at the crack of dawn building these canopies. The rain is coming down hard and we are getting drenched building this thing. Time is running and I am getting worried, around fifty percent of sales are done before ten on Saturday morning during a yard sale. We finally get everything built and are now sheltered from the rain, so we start filling the tables and are ready for customers. I’m feeling pretty good at this point. Not only do the canopies look like a flea market tents, which is great marketing, but since we added walls made with panels we had lying around it also keeps the wind out. The picture is perfect, it screams yard sale and good deals, there is no way to plan something this good, it’s the embodiment of what is a yard sale, and the setup is perfect.

This is prime time for yard sales and one person shows up to buy for five dollars, that’s it. Over an hour passes, the high of the great idea is long gone, and the hard work and the wet clothes dampen my spirits. Not to mention that we just sank one hundred dollars into building this canopy. I want to call it quits at this point, the words of my brother-in-law running around in my head. I was thinking that he was right, I had only slept four hours to be able to build this thing for the maybe six customers that would show up. Fortunately, the hard work and the money sank into this venture made the idea of quitting ridiculous, we were going to see the day through.

Slowly people start to come by and we hit the six customer. This made me feel a lot better, even if six had no real meaning other than being the first number that came into my brother-in-law mind, passing it made me think that I was right, that all our hard work was going to pay off. Within half an hour we had doubled that number, and the people keep pouring in after that. We did not have a constant flow as we could have had on a sunny day, but there was people there most of the time. Also, since our space was limited people noticed that were bringing new stuff out all the time as soon as room was made on the tables, we had the same customers come by on multiple occasions. We made more on the yard sale on Saturday then I was expecting to make during the whole weekend, needless to say I was happy with the turnout. The canopy made the whole difference as we kept getting good comments on it. I think it helped to attract people, it worked so well that even if it is sunny during my next yard sale I will build it again.

Usually, on Sunday you sell for one fourth of the sales of the day before as there are less people who go to yard sales on Sunday and people know that the best deals have been bought on Saturday. At this point I was happy with the day before and saw everything that was sold on this day as icing on the cake, but thought that the one fourth mark should be my goal for the day. I wanted to keep the good feeling I had alive and deliberately keep my goal low. We had a relaxing day, started putting stuff out a full hour later than we had on Saturday and had long periods of time with no one. Yet by eleven o’clock we were only ten or twenty percent shy of our objective. By three o’clock, which is the time we had decided to close down for the day, we had more than doubled our objective and sold stuff that I never believed would sell.

The funny thing is that the canopy played a huge part in our success because we cornered the market as not many people made a yard sale in the rain, and people were willing to stop because they saw the canopy. I simply could not wait for a perfect day to make a yard sale, so I had to come up with a solution. How many opportunities do we cheat ourselves out of waiting for the perfect conditions. My biggest problem of the weekend ended up being my biggest strength. While most people took the easy way out and waited for a better day I was forced to look for an idea that would have never come to me otherwise. I took a big chance, and ended up having a great sale where I was complimented on the canopy the whole time.

I made my own sun because waiting for the real one was not an option, I had the will and determination to make it happen. I kept having bad ideas until one of them was a good one, and sometimes one good idea after a long string of bad ideas is all that is needed.