Freedom reigns in Washington County: The all-American yard sale

Elise Haynes chronicles family life in her blog Haynes Family Yard Sale. The opinions stated in this article are solely her own and not those of St. George News.

HUMOR – Aside from freedom, democracy and Bruce Springsteen, do you know what makes America great? Yard sales. My husband’s grandpa used to say that yard sales are “stuff you don’t need at a price you can afford.”

Where else can you get rid of your junk, welcome complete strangers into your garage and earn money simultaneously? It’s a microcosm of capitalism in your very own driveway. The trouble with something as genius as driveway capitalism is that eventually some doofus abuses the system and city officials feel compelled to regulate it to death.

Good news, Washington County. We have not reached that point. Yet.

Today I spoke with code enforcement officials* – or whoever answered the phone and sounded official – from St. George, Washington City, Ivins, Santa Clara, Hurricane, and even LaVerkin, about the rules involving yard sales. I fully expected these people to be uptight, but they were not at all the party poopers that I imagined they would be. In an effort to preserve the awesomeness of yard sales I will share what I have learned from them.

For most cities the rules regarding yard sales are essentially the same. You don’t need a permit; just don’t operate a tchotchke-peddling business out of your yard every weekend. Some cities limit the number of yard sales you can have per year – St. George allows five yard sales per year, Hurricane allows two. Do not tape, staple, glue, or nail your signs onto poles or traffic signs. And don’t leave your signs out to rot in the sun. Besides being an eyesore they will be confusing for next week’s yard sale hunters who will waste valuable time chasing down a nonexistent yard sale. Not that I’m speaking from experience.

Talking with this fun bunch of people got me thinking about the proper way to hold a yard sale, for no other reason than that I needed a segue to my next paragraph. I have been chewing on this for twenty minutes now and I think I have some solid ideas lined up.

To begin, locate a ghetto blaster and a copy of “She Works Hard for the Money” by Donna Summer, which is not a song about prostitution even though it absolutely sounds like one. Listen to it a few times until it gets stuck in your head. This will be the soundtrack for your yard sale.

Next, advertise. Craigslist is a cost-free way of leading people to your yard sale via the internet. Signs attached to boxes weighed down with rocks also work well. The key to yard sale advertising is honesty. Do not put up a sign for a “Humongous Multi-Family Yard Sale!” and have it lead to you sitting in your lawn chair next to a box of Harlequin paperbacks and dusty cassette tapes.

After you’ve figured out your marketing campaign it’s time to gather your junk. Here’s a rule of thumb when it comes to appropriate yard sale items: If it belongs in the garbage, chances are nobody will want to buy it. What you need is worthwhile stuff that you are willing to part with in exchange for money.

You may find that you and your spouse have differing opinions about what is defined as trash and what is worthy of a yard sale. Here is what I do in these situations: Pretend to agree with your husband and then secretly stuff his basketball poster with the forged Jimmer signature in the trash when he isn’t looking.

Then, artfully display your stuff on tables in your driveway while whistling Donna Summer songs.

Once you’ve advertised and set up, people will descend upon your yard sale like flies on a fresh carcass. It may feel off-putting to have strangers root through your belongings. Remember, this is not the time to be sentimental about your stuff. Get rid of it. Give people a good deal. The more you sell, the less you will have to shamefully move back into your house. Think of it as a form of recycling. You are saving the planet by having a yard sale.

When all of your stuff is gone, don’t forget to remove all of the signs that you did put up on the poles and stop signs (even though I told you not to). Clean up your mess. Count your quarters and dimes and pat yourself on the back for doing your part to save the earth. And then scurry down to your neighbor’s yard sale – I hear they have some crocheted pot holders that are going fast.

*Editorial note: Covenants, conditions and restrictions in certain neighborhoods may impose governing standards and restrictions other than the city codes, those and city codes should be consulted for specifics.

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Copyright 2012 St. George News.

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  • Ruth April 19, 2012 at 11:46 am

    Great article! Really enjoy your writing Elise. There’s a group on facebook now called St George area online Yard Sale. It’s fantastic! All the perks of a yard sale without having to be the early bird on a Saturday. 🙂

  • Anneth maldonado August 4, 2012 at 6:58 pm

    I how I put thins for sale lots of baby stuff

  • Not a Mormon August 4, 2012 at 9:33 pm

    Don’t haggle with the folks running a yard sale. Fifty cents means fifty cents and not ‘twenny fy sen?’ . The answer will not change no matter how many times you ask holding up an item from the same marked area. Also, having your children ask in comprehensible English will also not change the price.
    Also, just because a garage sale is selling lots of really nice and clean kids clothes for $1 each doesn’t mean that you should argue about really, really nice and expensive items being appropriately higher priced. The fact that it’s a ‘garage sale’ does not mandate thrift store quality and prices.
    And for the love of all that is good people, put your junk up on tables. No one wants to get on their hands and knees digging through a loose pile of heaped junk on a bed sheet on the dirty ground. I’ve been told that this is acceptable if you don’t own buffet tables to put things on because ‘poor and desperate young parents will do anything to get a good deal and it teaches them to not be so uppity.’ Treat people like human beings!

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