Unexpected Life Lessons from Hosting a Garage Sale

Before we moved to from Melbourne to Korea, we sold our house and distilled our life into a handful of boxes we left behind in 1.5m x 1.5m storage unit. Everything else had to so.

I hosted a two garage sales to sell as much of our ‘crap’ as possible. From beds to backpacks to toys and tools and keyboards to cars. I also sold stuff individually on eight different local Facebook ‘Buy Swap Sell’ pages. I sold stuff on Gum Tree and Car Sales. I gave stuff away to family and friends. I felt like a next-level omni-channel retailer. It was a crazy time and I could only do it small batches because of the level of stupid I had to deal with. It was wine-guzzling-inducing.

But our garage sale and online selling experience gave us an unexpected insight into other people’s lives and we learnt a few things.

Life lesson #1: Lots of people want to escape their life

In fairness, I met a lot of lovely people who stopped for a chat and were fascinated by what our small family was doing — selling up, minimising and moving to a different hemisphere. I had no idea how many people love the idea of quitting their jobs, selling up, giving the banks and big corps the finger and moving on to cheaper, less stressful pastures.

Life lesson #2: I’d rather burn my belongings than sell to arseholes

But I also saw the unsavoury and inconsiderate side of our neighbours. I met a lot of people who want more for nothing other than a sense of entitlement.

To some, ‘negotiable’ means half price. I don’t know what it is, but there was something that got my hackles up when someone would offer $30 for a $100 item. We’d rather burn our stuff than sell it to those hard cases.

And shoplifters! Seriously! Kids tried to shoplift from our garage sale while the parents ignored them and ummmed and ahhhed for ten minutes over paying $2 for godddam shovel.

Life lesson #3: No one reads the fine (or the large) print

I added four, brand new, size large men’s cycling jerseys still in their original packaging to a Buy Swap Sell page. I marked them as large. The pictures showed giant L for large stickers on them.

“Can I have one in medium?” someone comments on my listing. No. No, you cannot.

Life lesson #4: People live in a vacuum

Then there were the people who sent me private messages asking when they can pick it up. Pick what up? I’m selling a hundred things here, mate.

The bike is marked sold. S.O.L.D. No, you can’t still buy it. No, I don’t have another one for sale. FFS.

“I’m coming over in 10 minutes,” says buyer 16. They and buyer 20 and 22 and 27 never show up and I’m stuck at home all day waiting for the no shows.

Was it worth it?

We made a few thousand dollars, enough to fund our home set up here in Korea. And I got this post out of it. That’s something, right?

This morning I woke up to some guy offering me $40 for the keyboard I sold for $80 two months ago. The level of stupid still haunts me.