Sunday, November 8, 2015

How to Yard Sale Like a Semi-Adult

I held a yard sale about a month ago because I:

  1. Wanted stuff I never used out of my house.
  2. Wanted money for stuff I never used.
This was my first attempt at having a yard sale since becoming an adult. I had "worked" garage sales in my childhood with my parents, aunts, and uncles but actually hosting one myself was different.  I actually had to do ALL of the work.  

So I researched how to do yard sales.  That's right ... I broke out the nerd in me and actually researched it.  I mainly used Pinterest to get ideas and read blogs of people who had "been there, done that".  

In case you want to do your own garage/yard sale and need some tips, here are mine:
  • Know the objective of your sale in advance of preparing for it.  My number one goal was to get stuff out of my house.  When people wanted to haggle with me on prices I had to remember that if they didn't buy it I might have to find a place for it in my house again. And that wasn't going to happen.
  • Have a game plan.  I created a calendar to help me go through the rooms in my house looking for items I wanted to get rid of. The calendar also included reminders to get a city permit for the sale, when to do social media posts, when to create signs, when I was traveling leading up to the sale, etc.  It helped keep my sanity in check without feeling overwhelmed.
  • Know what to price stuff. I created a spreadsheet to keep track of what I was going to price things. Some stuff I had to research on Craigslist or Ebay to know what people were charging for used items.  I didn't want to over (or under) price things.
  • Make your sale an event.  I promoted my yard sale on because the site was free, easy to use, and there were a bunch of other sales in my area on the site.  I looked at the other postings and they were pretty much the same thing (garage sale on date with time) ... BORING.  So I labeled my event "Shopaholic Turned Minimalist" and listed items that were for sale with descriptions. For example, "Treadmill ... or clothes hanger. You decide!" I was marketing to a young professional crowd. The traditional garage sale shoppers will come whether you are savvy with marketing or not. However, the inexperienced garage sale shopper isn't keen to haggling and they will usually pay pretty close to asking price.
  • Signs need to stand out.  I created signs that would get me to go to a yard sale whether I needed something or not.  And my signs definitely got the "looky loos" to the event.  I had several patrons say they stopped by because they loved the signs.
  • The magic of the "free" box.  On my second day of the yard sale I put stuff that I didn't think would bring in any money into a box and labeled it FREE.  I placed the box on the curb.  Everyone who took stuff out of the box also bought something at the yard sale.  
  • Carry your money on you at all times.  I read in different places to have a lock box for money.  Well, those can easily be carried off if you aren't watching it all the time.  And when you have a yard sale going on you aren't going to be watching it all the time.  I used a fanny pack ... yes, shut up, I have a fanny pack.  And it worked great to keep my mind sane while I had several people rummaging through my stuff.  I also had counterfeit markers so I could check bills to make sure they were legit.  Again, peace of mind stuff.  (Also, make sure you have plenty of change BEFORE your sale. Know how much seed money you started with so you know how much you made at the end.)
  • Everyone wants a good shopping experience.  I am thankful for my short lived stint in retail.  If you are pleasant with the customers they are more likely to buy stuff.  Also, if you have "music to shop by" playing people tend to be in a better mood.  I played a Songza playlist labeled "Rock of the 70s" and people definitely had a bounce in their step while shopping.  It also helped that I played music out of the electronics I was trying to sell.  Showed that they worked!
  • Put the merchandise at eye level.  The only items I had laying on the ground were shoes (had a chair by the shoes so people could try them on), furniture, and luggage.  Everything else was displayed on tables or clothes were hanging on hangers.  The easier shoppers can see stuff the easier they will want to purchase it. I also rearranged items on the tables as stuff was being sold. It helped me keep inventory as well as better display stuff for the next shopper.  Just like an actual store.
Again, my number one goal was to get everything out of my house.  I definitely completed that goal!  The few items I had left over went straight to Goodwill that afternoon.  My number two goal was to make some money.  That happened as well!  And that went straight to my bank right after the event was over.

Having a proper sale is a lot of work.  However, I got rid of so much clutter that I don't anticipate doing it again for another 30 years.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

That Time I Went To ... Chicago

Last year I went to Chicago with Nunya.  He had to work at a conference and I had to explore Chicago.  Seems fair.

I did a little bit of work while in Chicago meeting with clients and industry friends.  Then the rest of the weekend was on my own exploring the awesome city.  I, of course, only go to Chicago when the weather is amazing.  Which, of course, makes me want to live there.  Until, of course, I see the winter weather they get.

Oh well.

On Saturday, I strolled through neighborhoods and visited farmer markets.  Which made me really sad because I couldn't buy everything to bring back to Texas.  Then I went to the large farmers' market in Lincoln Park. If you can attend this market do it!  So many great things to see, explore, and taste.  After my loop through the market, I sat on a park bench eating lunch in the midst of all the locals enjoying the beautiful weather.

I asked a local lady sitting next to me if she knew where the restrooms were and she said "Well, the market has port o' potties but I don't recommend them.  If you walk up one block you will find public restrooms that are really clean.  They are in the barn."

And that's when I worried that she was drunk.  And/or high.  I said thank you and then walked toward the "barn".  Sure enough, there was a barn.  In the middle of Chicago.  With cows, pigs, horses ... a whole working farm.  And the bathrooms were very clean.

Sometimes talking to strangers pays off.

Turns out the barn was part of the Chicago Zoo.  Which is free.  Which made me want to move to Chicago really bad.  I explored several zoo exhibits and the people watching.

As I left the zoo I followed a path to get to a particular spot that one of my company's clients mentioned to me the day before.  He said you can see the Chicago skyline pretty well from one particular spot.  And he was right.
I also got to spend time with Nunya during his work trip.  One of the events I went to was in the John Hancock Center's Signature Room.  On the 95th floor.  A fun event, good food and drink, nice people, and amazing views.

Navy Pier is on the left.
After a weekend like that who wouldn't want to move to Chicago?!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Tempting Fate with Airbnb

People ask me if I travel a lot.  And it is hard for me to answer because what quantifies as "a lot"?  I think the amount I travel is manageable (and enjoyable) for me.  If other people travel at my frequency they may say "I'm always on the road" while others may say "That's it?"

I have always wanted to test out a service like Airbnb.  From the company's website: Airbnb is a trust community marketplace for people to list, discover, and book unique accommodations around the world.  On one of my work trips to Arizona in February I decided to test it out Airbnb.  I did it on the company's dime because 1) I'd save the company money because Airbnb is usually cheaper than a hotel room and 2) I'd have a paper trail in case the experience didn't go well.

I found a place that was close to where my meetings were, it was a place all to myself (they have options to rent a room as well as share a room ... I went with "Entire Place"), and SUPER cheap.  Contacted the owners and made arrangements for my trip.
The place was a standalone structure in the back yard of the main house.  The house had a beautiful backyard with orange trees, huge pool, and big yard.  I also had access to the pool if I wanted to go swimming.  In order to get to into the backyard (and my Airbnb place) I had to go through the gated driveway.  I was given access via my personal code which I keyed into the gate's key pad.  I felt more secure at the Airbnb location than I did at most hotels.
Free coffee, tea, and sodas. The desk even had blank cards and stamps in case you wanted to mail a note.
Plus, the neighbors behind the house trained police dogs.
Thoughtful toiletries for travel warriors.
The building in the backyard wasn't anything fancy but the accommodations were better than expected!  Queen size bed, wonderful linens, large desk, fully stocked mini fridge, snacks, toiletries, books, etc.  There was no TV in the room but I don't usually watch TV when I travel for work (my days are filled with work stuff and my nights are filled with sleep).
Free snacks! Budget friendly work trip!
Did I mention everything in the mini fridge and snacks were free?  Yep.  And I had free WiFi.

I'd recommend using Airbnb but I will say to do your homework on the property before booking (just as a precaution).  I had to cut my trip short due to weather at home (wanted to get home before I flights were cancelled) and the Airbnb owners graciously reimbursed me for the unused night.  Much better than staying at a hotel!
Little chocolates were on the bed welcoming me to my first Airbnb experience!

Friday, June 12, 2015

Epic Morning

I posted before about channeling Samuel L. Jackson when I realized birds were eating my garden. However, when faced with a snake I do not channel Mr. Jackson.

This morning, I was going through my normal routine. Sort of waking up, checking my phone for the latest updates around the world, start running the water in the shower to let it heat up, try to get the curious cat to jump in the shower (he never does), and then I hop in.  Started going through the shower routine: shampoo hair, wash face, rinse hair, condition hair, shave legs, rinse hair.

However, I never got past "shampoo hair".  Because I saw this in the corner.
That's right!  A snake.  It might not have been a cobra but I didn't ask to see its identification.  Instead, I hopped out of the shower with shampoo suds dripping into my eyes.  I then tried to call my boyfriend (he didn't answer), then I called my mom (she didn't answer), and then I called my dad.  Dad tells me to go get a shovel and kill it.

Instead, I burn down my house.  Seriously, Dad, "get a shovel"?  That's the worst advice ever.

So, when faced with a real snake I become a crazy person ... maybe I do channel Samuel L. Jackson.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Best Motivation

Ever have one of those moments that makes you forget everything you are stressing/worrying about and just enjoy life?  I had one of those moments the other day at the gym.

I didn't want to go to the gym.  I didn't want to work out.  I didn't want to watch the stupid TV shows that are constantly airing on the televisions at the gym.

Side note: the absolute worst TV show is the Bachelor (and any form of it like the Bachelorette).  A total train wreck on all accounts.  It just happens to be playing when I go to the gym in the evening.  I am highly superior adult and, therefore, I listen to NPR podcasts while at the gym.  But my eyes will watch the TV shows.  My eyes almost burned out of their sockets watching the Bachelor.  Don't believe me?  Next time you want to impale a railroad spike through your frontal lobe turn the Bachelor on and turn the sound off.  Then try not to gag.
If her head is ripped off then there is no need for a verbal assault. Sigh.
I digress.  

The older woman on the treadmill in front of me had the best t-shirt for the gym.  THE BEST!
You can buy the shirt through this store.
Hell yes it does!  As you can imagine, that shirt is an instant mood lifter.  It made me glad to be running at the gym.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Those Crazy Kids

Happy anniversary to my parents.  They are celebrating 41 years of marriage (I'd like to think that 33 of those years I made absolutely wonderful for them).

They married when mom was 19 and dad was 17.  Dad graduated from high school early and turned 18 the week after they were married.  They raised three children (the author of this posting just happens to be the perfect one of the three), always provided what our family needed, ingrained a strong work ethic, and proved that having a fun time is a necessity of life.

To my parents, thanks for being a great example of a lasting relationship.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Exploring My 'Hood

I love walking around my neighborhood.  It is one of the reasons why I bought my house five years ago.  It is an established, safe, and quiet neighborhood a few block away from the Dallas city limits.  Several times a week I will walk along a route that I have walked NUMEROUS times.  I use these walks to get ideas for landscaping and curb appeal.

The same route means the same houses.  It can get ... tiresome.

I've recently decided to mix up my walks by going down streets I've never walked down before.  (Sounds like the beginning of a Bruce Springsteen song.)  This simple change of scenery has done more than just revamp my walking route it has allowed me to see the unique things in my neighborhood.
Little Free Library
I stumbled upon this Little Free Library last week.  Such a great and cute idea.  If you aren't familiar with Little Free Library check them out here or read this article about them.

Then I found this garden next to the elementary school.  A great outdoor classroom to teach students about healthy food, science, sharing, cultivation, and sustainability.

Raised garden beds.
They have a compost bin in the corner. 
There is a rain barrel next to the garden. 
The students decorated their own picket for the fence.
Another fascinating find was an estate sale down the street from my house.  Not gonna lie, I like going to other people's houses to see how my house compares to the neighborhood.  Estate sales allow me to do this legally.  (Note: I don't enter neighbors' houses illegally.  Just in case you were wondering.)
National cash register. It was sitting in the epic man cave of the house.