I thought that a garage sale would be a good way to get rid of a bunch of odds and ends, especially key since we have a baby due in several months and we need room for all the accompanying gear (not to mention extra money). I never imagined it would end up being a great learning opp for my kids. This is what went down.
They have too much damn stuff.
I mean, essentially they knew this by the fact that sometimes they could barely walk into our basement playroom because of all the toys and games on the floor. But when you demand that your kids go through their playthings and cough up whatever they aren’t that into anymore, it dawns on them that they have A LOT OF THINGS. And that they really don’t even need birthday or holiday presents this year! (OK, that part is in my dreams.)
The “reuse” part of “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” is pretty important.
Because people would be buying stuff from us — like a lampshade or a piggy bank — they wouldn’t have to get them at a store, my husband explained to the kids. That meant we were saving valuable natural resources, like the electricity and materials that go into making lampshades and piggy banks. We’ve talked about this before, but I think actually seeing people get psyched about our old belongings helped the idea hit home. Well, as psyched as anyone gets about a lampshade.
Nobody’s gonna pay twenty bucks for a water bottle.
I had my daughter help price items. When I glanced over, she’d written “$20” on a plastic water bottle. “That’s how we’ll make a lot of money!” she said, proudly. We had a good talk about the concept of price, supply, and demand. We also discussed how some stuff in life is “priceless,” like her baby photo album. “And me!” she said. “And me!” I chimed in, and we both laughed. (Bonding with your kid: also priceless.)
The power of bargaining.
We sold hardcover books for a dollar apiece. Some guy showed up, browsed, and asked if he could have one for fifty cents. “Seventy-five cents,” my husband offered, as the kids looked on. Sold! My son took the dollar, handed the man a quarter, and threw in a bonus high-five.
A quarter is more than just pocket change.
“Why didn’t you just give him the book for fifty cents?” my daughter asked after the dude had left. Our kids are still grasping the meaning of money, no mean feat in a world where you can one-click buy almost anything. I pointed out that if you saved two quarters a week for a whole year, you’d end up with $24 dollars. And if you did that for 10 years, you’d have $240. Her eyes widened. “Wow!” she said. Score.
In a couple of hours, we’d racked up more than a hundred dollars. The kids were getting restless. At some point, my daughter disappeared for a while. Then I spotted her walking down our street, her arms loaded with stuff. Another neighbor was having a garage sale. Look at the big pink pillow she bought for a dollar! And the sandals! And the Slip ‘n Slide! And, wait for it, she wanted me to take her to more garage sales on weekends! Because you could find such cool stuff!