Minimalism Meets A Carport Sale


Wind, rain, a few degrees within fifty degrees, and I’m having a carport sale. Not the best timing, but finances suggest I should do this. (Almost Everything Must Go) I’m certainly not doing this because I want to do this. Yet, there’s a good feeling of release as I put out things that I haven’t used in years. I’m a minimalist though, so there isn’t much. It will be an interesting day. I will chronicle it like I did with the Open Studio Tour because it is Saturday and I blog on Saturday. Welcome along on the ride.

Breakfast first. Glad I took a shower last night. Now it is time to walk around the neighborhood putting up cardboard signs in the rain. Ah, Western Washington in October.

What a messy day. Signs deployed. One broke and I didn’t have a backup, so that effort got scaled back. The sign got reassigned closer to home because I don’t have the time, or another person helping out, to get it to where I originally intended. Being six miles from the highway has it’s drawbacks. (Geographically Desirable Or Not)

Time to add the more delicate items to the collection of hardier goods that mostly survived outside in the carport last night.

The carport is filling, but it simultaneously looks full and yet not as filled as most garage sales.

Lighter items try to skitter out of the carport on the wind. Whoa!

Pricing. I’ll put a sign for $40 at the front of the carport, and $1 at the back and stage things based on price, which will be negotiated anyway. I rarely go to garage sales so I have very little experience with this.

Oh yeah, and put more flyers in the For Sale sign. You know my house is for sale, right? (Home For Sale Alas)

Each event, every post is advertising and possible revenues. That’s true of life. Every moment, each person we encounter, every choice we make tells the world a bit about us, and gives the world the opportunity to compensate, recompense, give us value for how we’ve lived.

My head went there because I was thinking of how much I could make, and how little some garage sales bring in. If I sold nothing that I placed in the carport, but someone bought the house, the carport sale was worth the effort. If I meet someone that hires me for my services, either as a consultant or an employee, then the carport sale was worth it. If I sell a lot of stuff that I wasn’t using anyway, and that can find other more productive uses, then the carport sale was worth it. If I sell enough to pay the mortgage, well then, the carport sale was definitely worth it. Who knows? Stay tuned. Oh yeah, you’re reading this after the sale is over and I’ve posted this. You can skip ahead. I can’t.

Of course the early birds sweep in a few minutes before opening. I’m here. I’ll sell you something. The coveted bike stand ($40) went first. Then a handful of items. One person came in just because she saw the signs. So, that effort was useful.

Fifteen minutes later they’re all gone.

What and why am I selling? That question is asked with every piece. Everything arrives for a reason: need, want, gift, dreams, history. I just sold a bunch of bicycle tools that I can’t identify. Surely they’d be useful for maintaining my bicycle, but I’ve had them for over seven years without a single use. I won’t sell heirlooms or career momentos – yet. But last night I did find some shirts that I’d put aside for sentimental reasons, and decided that those memories weren’t as powerful anymore. The logos on those polo shirts probably don’t mean anything to anyone else. They just came out of the box and are in the closet, or will be after I wash them.

Metric: It took a day or two to set this up, and will probably take about a day to take down, unless everything sells. Each day’s living expenses are about $100 – $150. Sound like a lot? Take your yearly expenses. Divide by 365. What do you get? If your household income is $73,000 before taxes, and you don’t manage to save or increase your debt, then you living expenses are about $200 per day. That’s a nice hotel room. So, for every $100 I basically earn one day’s expenses. Years of accumulation, metered out.

Well, I’m not going to type continuously while no one’s here; at least not in this blog. I’ve got a book to work on. Hmm, this weather. Scotland. This might be a very appropriate time to work on that book.

Bags. Gotta remember to have bags, and change. Nothing less than a dollar though. Have you seen someone drop nickels and dimes into the “Leave a penny.” cup? Dollars are the new quarters regardless of standard measures of inflation.

Drumming rain and no one since the first crowd. At least I’m getting work done on the book.

Internet data bit: Over 160 people read Almost Everything Must Go. So far 10 people have shopped. That’s better than my usual click-through rate. My blog and web sites get lots of traffic, but the click through rate is less than 1% and the buy rate is necessarily less than that. Of course, indirect sales may make up the difference. Like I said on one of my posters; “The past and the future are ideals. The present is real, and messy.” (Available as cards, mugs, and tote bags over on smugmug. Can you tell I am in a selling mood today?)

Well, this is quiet enough I might as well bake cookies. (Gluten-free oatmeal raisin)

No one has interrupted my baking session.

Cookies in the oven. Time to clean the beaters.

11:28 is someone actually showing up? Yes, but they sped up as they drove past.

Cool. Got a call for the camping hammock. What am I asking again? Gotta come up with a number.

Hmm, cookies.

– and no one since 9:30-ish.

If something doesn’t sell, does that mean the universe wants me to keep it? Follow that logic. If I can’t get a job, does that mean the universe thinks I don’t need one? If the house doesn’t sell, does that mean I don’t have to move? Taken far enough, this creates an interesting, and appealing, scenario. Maybe I get to live here, don’t need a job, and don’t have to sell my stuff. Throw in an appealing way to sustain, maintain, or even thrive, and this can be very nice.

As I type this a great blue heron is hunting in the vacant lot across the street. They do little but sit and wait, and they don’t always wait where we expect them to. They primarily eat fish, but on stormy days they retreat to the fields and eat rodents. (A neighbor watched one spear a rat, fling it into the air, and then swallow it as it came back down. It wasn’t elegant, but it was effective.) They are patient and adaptable and willing to be unconventional. Okay. I can take a hint.

Pardon me as I whistle. There’s nothing going on. The weather abated awhile ago, but evidently that isn’t enough. Maybe they’ll show after their lunch. I ate mine an hour ago.

Another car drove up and kept going. Maybe I need a bigger sign, or more people, or more stuff. But I’m a minimalist, so more stuff isn’t going to happen. More people, well, that would probably be the case before Labor Day.

Yay, a sale! They drove by first, then while they turned around I made a new sign. It turns out that she has one of my books on her night stand (Twelve Months at Merritt Lake) and she was buying a piece of camping equipment I used and wrote about in Twelve Months at Lake Valhalla. A nice sale, and visit, and introduction. Her son got creative with some of the pieces and created a laughing, grim, alien reaper costume. Awesome.

A congenial lookie-loo in a Cadillac. No sale but a gentlemanly smile.

Time for more tea.

A fellow writer dropped by with her husband. They left with a laundry rack, and left me with a few dollars, homemade applesauce, and encouragement. He found a job after years of searching, and it was by luck and networking. It can happen any time.

Two drivebys, including one around, but neither stopped.

The final hour. Cue dramatic music.

Another driveby.

This feels a lot like the Open Studio Tour, though not as intense. Publicity was involved. And there’s also a public element too. Here’s my life. During the Tour, “Here’s what I have created.” During a carport sale, “Here’s what I’ve accumulated.” The day isn’t over yet, but the profit per day is about the same. That’s not exactly an incentive to create.

With selling art, things that are worth very little are turned into something that has greater value, artistically and financially. The markups are nice, but there’s a lot of sunk costs in unsold inventory.
With selling stuff, things that cost a lot are sold for very little, and there’s a lot of unsold inventory. The markdowns are unfortunate, and while the release feels good, subtraction has a limit.
I’d rather make money by selling my art than by selling my stuff, especially if they are equally profitable.

Quick, a spot of meditation while things are quiet enough to hear a car pull up.

Already sorting what comes back into the house and what goes into the car. There will be a trip to the donation station early next week. The spiders may be pleased to get some of their former lodgings returned.

Hey, a car drove up at five minutes before the hour! They stopped! They got out! And then they picked up a flyer for the house. Well, that sale can eclipse whatever I have going on in the carport. Buy the carport and the house too.

One step in the Nine-Step Program championed by New Road Map Foundation and Your Money Or Your Life is to estimate your net worth, including the value of everything you own. I’ve done that, and used garage sale estimates, but that assumed that everything sold. I’ve witnessed a sobering caveat. Not everything sells.

Chicken soup is simmering on the stove. I’ll want comfort food after I get back from pulling in the signs.

That’s it. Like I said above, maybe the universe doesn’t want me to get rid of my worldly possessions. Glad to have you back. And glad to send the other pieces off into the world, some for a fee and some for free.

About Tom Trimbath

real estate broker / consultant / entrepreneur / writer / photographer / speaker / aerospace engineer / semi-semi-retired More info at: and at my amazon author page:
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Minimalism Meets A Carport Sale

  1. suburbanlife says:

    Oh, God – I can feel your pain. By no means a garage sale convert, with a mere 2 of them under my belt, I can attest that our precious useful and useless, relatively, stuff may not exert a siren call on potential buyers. Similarly with Studio Tours. Lots of waiting around and fielding curious questions (Q. How long did it take you to do that painting? A. Huh? (just most of the past forty years, but never mind.) next question? But your chronicle of the wait and what you did to fill the time made me chuckle. I like your writing. G

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s