Saturday, July 23, 2005

Yard Sales

I was greeted early a couple of Saturdays ago by the sound of car doors slamming and knew instinctively that one of my neighbors was having a yard sale. Okay, "early" is a relative term - it was probably around 9am, which is when most yard sales in most other towns would be wrapping up. We do things a little differently here in Chapel Hill. On the other hand, Nashville seems to do yard sales right and my aunt is a yard sale diva, both holding them and shopping them. Nashville is apparently so into yard sales that according to my Aunt Jane yard sales typically start Friday instead of Saturday. The mind boggles.

I'll have to admit that I have a real aversion to yard sales be they mine, my neighbors' or a fund-raising sale. Given the traffic tie-ups on Franklin Street every year during Chapel of the Cross' annual ABC sale, I'm in the minority. For me, there's an implicit sort of "it isn't good enough for me but you might want it" attitude on the part of the seller and a weird sort of picking-through-garbage vibe from the shoppers. I know that's just me and for most people they're fun and some sort of game, but I just can't get into it (although it is kind of funny seeing people dressed in third-hand clothes parking their Beemers around the corner before walking over to my neighbors).

All that being said, we've got a bunch of stuff in the garage, the storage unit, various closets and the like that we should probably sell for whatever we can get, rather then giving it to Goodwill or donating it for the next ABC sale. Hence our new interest in eBay.

I've not paid much attention to eBay - it just seemed like an online yard sale without the body odor and bad teeth. But JennySlash has started looking into it and I thought I ought to see what I had that might be good auction material. First thought was my LP collection, especially since I'm making good inroads into digitizing it and writing them out to CDs - not much use for the LP after I'm done. But a little research makes it obvious that my collection is either too popular (nobody's going to buy my copy of Boston's Boston or Deep Purple's Machine Head since everybody's already got it) or it's too obscure (not likely I'll happen to find a buyer for a Mike Batt or Translator LP).

I naturally also thought of selling off part of my comic book collection, but there are problems with that as well. The market has really dropped out for almost anything published after 1975 and I believe eBay is at least partly responsible for that. To ensure more uniform grading for the more expensive comics, a whole industry has grown up around impartial comics grading to get some safeguards around purchases via eBay and other Internet venues or mail order sales. The result has been that there aren't a whole lot of comics now valued between their cover price and $100, since it'll cost you at least $15 apiece to get a book graded. So other than my Frank Miller Wolverine limited series, Flaming Carrot #1, 30 Days of Night and a few old Uncanny X-Men, I've got very few comics that are worth selling (although I might try selling them in lots).

Then while we were picking up eBay for Dummies at Borders, I ran across a field guide for Hot Wheels and I realized that I might have something to sell after all. I did manage (with help from Mom) to hang on to a dozen or so of my cars and a couple of them are in damn good condition. The best of the lot is probably the 1969 Custom Volkswagen, which could go for a couple hundred bucks, so maybe there's some use for this eBay thing after all. But I refuse to sell my Major Matt Masons - those are irreplaceable.


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