Thursday, May 24, 2007

I Just Say No

When it comes to yard sales, I just say no. That is, I don’t do yard sales. I don’t hold yard sales and I don’t go to yard sales. If I need to get rid of something, I’d rather give it away than to hold a yard sale. Yard sales are just fine for those that go in for them, but it’s not for me.

Over the years, members of my family have obtained various ‘treasures’ from yard sales. The vast majority of this stuff has ended up being useless junk, although, a (very) few actually useful items have been obtained. The overall value derived, however, has not been worth the time and money invested in obtaining the stuff we have gotten.

And, for heck sakes, just how much stuff does my family need? I am of the opinion that everything I acquire owns a piece of me. It requires some of my time and thought. It requires storage space and maintenance. Once I get used to having it, I may need to replace it at some point. The total cost of ownership needs to go into every cost-benefit analysis when considering acquisition of anything. Sometimes, it’s not even worth receiving something for free if its total cost of ownership is too high.

My uncle has a bad case of packrat disease. As a kid I loved playing in the ‘collector’ cars he accumulated on his property. But nothing ever happened with any of the cars except to rust and decay. Every so often he would add another car to his collection. A few years ago, the city where he lives forced him to remove all of these heaps of junk from his property.

But that didn’t affect the stuff my uncle had been compiling inside his house. My uncle was a yard sale hobbyist. He bought copious piles of stuff that he never used.

Today my uncle lies on his deathbed. Family members have spent the past couple of weeks working on cleaning out his house. The haul has included over 50 fishing poles, more than 100 belts, and some two dozen hats of pretty much the same style. Of course, those were just among the small items. The entire house from top to bottom was so filled with stuff acquired from yard sales that one could barely navigate inside.

From this perspective, “yard sale-ing,” as a friend of mine is wont to call it, is a mental disorder. For those of you that enjoy yard sales, more power to you. But for me, I’ll continue to just say no to yard sales.


Part of the Plan said...

Reach, you've hit another home run with this one. Another subject near and dear to me. Last weekend I passed a sign on 7th West that said "40 Family Yard Sale --->". I can't even begin to fathom what that scene looked like.

I'd love to see you next address that uniquely Utah obsession with free food at RC Willey and Costco.

Reach Upward said...

Well, let's just say that shopping doesn't turn my crank. I only do it when necessary. And big promo events designed to attract crowds are simply (from my perspective) notices to stay away, free junk food and fake deals notwithstanding.

The folks that camped out for two days in front of the new Ikea store earlier this week? I can't fathom it. To me this seems to exceed the boundaries of sanity.

If I think I need something, I shop and purchase at my convenience rather than at some contrived event. That's why I always sleep in the day after Thanksgiving. Why engage in the ritualistic lust for more junk, even if some of it is on sale?

Again, I ask, how much stuff does one person (or one family) need? The folks that make Veggie Tales have a funny episode called Madame Blueberry that drives to this point.

The lady is being guided through a huge warehouse store by a sales associate. At one point he urges her to look at toaster ovens. She replies, "But I don't need a toaster oven." The associate replies, "Well, who needs any of this stuff? But I think we both agree that you want a toaster oven."

And as I wrote, I think it's important to ask whenever considering an acquisition how much of me is this thing going to own and whether the tradeoff is worth it.

y-intercept said...

I feel guilty for not shopping garage sales. There are some very good things about the garage sale mantality: Garage sales encourage people to reuse things (saving resources). Garage sales provide an extra means of income for people (in most cases the people doing the sales are at the lower end of the income spectrum). When people are accustomed to buying and selling things, they are more likely to buy quality things.

I feel pangs when I buy new when used would suffice. However, I agree with the sentiment. I don't enjoy garage sales and avoid them.