Author Topic: Yard Sale  (Read 11370 times)

darkelenchus

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Yard Sale
« on: June 26, 2012, 10:21:39 AM »
My wife and I are planning on having a yard sale in about a month or so. We're weathered veterans at selling things on Craigslist and Ebay, but we've never ran a yard/garage sale. Here's what we've done so far:

1) Gathered our inventory and made a spreadsheet listing our asking prices and lowest prices.
2) Picked up some decent sized cardboard boxes from a dumpster to make signs.
3) Grouped the stuff we're selling into categories.

Here's what we have yet to do:

4) Use some folding tables and borrow some from the neighbors.
5) Pick a day.
6) Make signs.
7) Advertise on Craigslist & potentially w/ fliers at the local library & grocery store.

Anyway, we figured there has to be Mustachians who've had successful yard sales before. Any of you got any tips? Advice on modifying what we've done or plan to do?

ShavenLlama

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Re: Yard Sale
« Reply #1 on: June 26, 2012, 11:27:56 AM »
I usually wake up late on yard sale day and start making decisions on stuff I'm tired of looking at as I stumble through the house. But you seem to be way ahead of the game!

I recommend asking your neighbors up and down the block if they are interested in having a block yard sale. More people selling = more traffic. When you go to make your ads up, use phrases like "Multiple Family Yard Sale! Tools! Baby Gear! Clothes! Furniture! Appliances!" and whatever other categories you'll be selling.

Know that on the morning of your sale, it doesn't matter what TIME you list as the starting time, people will be outside waiting at the crack of dawn, if not earlier. Have everything as preset as possible in your garage so you can just open the doors and start moving tables out.

Also you'll have people try to way undercut your prices no matter what you ask. You can hold somewhat firm in the earliest hours, but remind yourself that the point is to get rid of the stuff and make SOME money; it's not a business and you aren't necessarily trying to profit. I say this because I always try to hold too firm on my prices, then I end up hauling a bunch of crap to Goodwill afterwards (or worse, reboxing and storing!) while my husband lets piles of stuff go for what seems to be nothing and ends up with $200 at the end of the day. Now he's in charge of the customers at sales!

If it's hot the day you're selling, consider getting a 24-pack of water or something and selling bottles for 50cents or so.

And last, if you have a radio or TV you're selling, turn it on or at least have an extension cord so people can test stuff out.

Good luck!

darkelenchus

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Re: Yard Sale
« Reply #2 on: June 26, 2012, 11:49:41 AM »
Thank you very much! Very informative! The extension cord and bottled water idea are especially helpful. We were also thinking about baking some snacks (vegan chocolate chip cookies) and selling them for $.25 or so, too. But I'm not sure about that, since some people might be wary of eating home baked goods, like we're trying to poison them or something.

grantmeaname

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Re: Yard Sale
« Reply #3 on: June 26, 2012, 12:05:38 PM »
If you sell them you're required to follow food prep cleanliness laws and you're legally liable for food poisoning. If you have food that's not prepackaged, it would be better to give it away for free or in exchange for a suggested donation.

darkelenchus

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Re: Yard Sale
« Reply #4 on: June 26, 2012, 12:37:31 PM »
If you sell them you're required to follow food prep cleanliness laws and you're legally liable for food poisoning. If you have food that's not prepackaged, it would be better to give it away for free or in exchange for a suggested donation.

Good to know. Thanks. We'll probably do the donation thing, then.

velocistar237

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Re: Yard Sale
« Reply #5 on: June 26, 2012, 12:48:05 PM »
At yard sales, items usually go for really low prices. In fact, they're so low, they're probably about what you could get as a tax deduction for a Goodwill donation, only without all the work. Have you considered that?

darkelenchus

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Re: Yard Sale
« Reply #6 on: June 26, 2012, 12:57:15 PM »
At yard sales, items usually go for really low prices. In fact, they're so low, they're probably about what you could get as a tax deduction for a Goodwill donation, only without all the work. Have you considered that?

Yes, we have. My dad told me it wasn't worth the hassle and pretty much said what you said, verbatim. We're not doing it just to get rid of stuff. We've never done it before & have this crazy idea that yard sales are more community building and interactive than just dropping stuff off at Good Will and getting a receipt. :-)

velocistar237

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Re: Yard Sale
« Reply #7 on: June 26, 2012, 01:07:10 PM »
We've never done it before & have this crazy idea that yard sales are more community building and interactive than just dropping stuff off at Good Will and getting a receipt. :-)

That's what I was wondering, whether it was about the experience. I hadn't really thought of the community aspect, though.

mechanic baird

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Re: Yard Sale
« Reply #8 on: June 26, 2012, 01:34:06 PM »
We've never done it before & have this crazy idea that yard sales are more community building and interactive than just dropping stuff off at Good Will and getting a receipt. :-)

That's what I was wondering, whether it was about the experience. I hadn't really thought of the community aspect, though.

I did 3 yard sales last year and got rid of $20000 worth of stuff for just $2000. For example, a speaker system I bought in 1992 sold for 5 bucks. A sushi plate set (new $19) went for 5 bucks. an IKEA futon (new $199) went for $25. Other small furniture that cost me a few hundred dollars all went for double digit. Stuff animals went for 2 bucks each and a lot of them cost more than 10 bucks when new.. You really get nothing.. but we did BBQ, had neighbors over and had great fun.. People came to see our neighborhood... so yeah a sense of community building there..

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Re: Yard Sale
« Reply #9 on: June 30, 2012, 06:59:28 AM »
I agree, more an event than a way to make money. I did one a few years back and probably won't do another.  It was a lot of work. I had some very saleable baby times and sold them quickly for what I would have done by another method, made about $200 from that,  but the the rest of the  stuff, maybe only another $50 or so.  I had to pack up heaps and take it to the charity store: I was so disappointed. It was a bit social, so if you are looking for that it will work for you!

darkelenchus

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Re: Yard Sale
« Reply #10 on: June 30, 2012, 07:50:32 AM »
I agree, more an event than a way to make money. I did one a few years back and probably won't do another.  It was a lot of work. I had some very saleable baby times and sold them quickly for what I would have done by another method, made about $200 from that,  but the the rest of the  stuff, maybe only another $50 or so.  I had to pack up heaps and take it to the charity store: I was so disappointed. It was a bit social, so if you are looking for that it will work for you!

Cool, thanks! Of course, our primary aim is to do it for the experience and get to know people. But we also want to make sure we do the best we can to make some money.

darkelenchus

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Re: Yard Sale
« Reply #11 on: July 04, 2012, 07:56:58 AM »
Thanks! All good things to keep in mind. We are planning to have a two day sale.

kolorado

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Re: Yard Sale
« Reply #12 on: July 04, 2012, 09:13:40 AM »
Have a free box. I put things like old flyswatters, magazines, cheapo toys and baskets in mine. I've never had someone pick stuff out of the free box without buying something else at the sale. This year, for example, a guy loaded up on my free ziploc plastic containers and ended up buying a set of lamps for $30. It's almost like they feel guilty and look extra hard for something to buy.
My mom and I used to have sales together every year. What really increased our profits was to have the sale two Saturdays. Yard sale traffic is really hit and miss. One weekend you'd get 30 people all day and the next you'd get 200, even if the weather was the same.
I've always made decent money on sales but that's probably because I'm always selling things that were given to us and things we bought second-hand. I completely understand why someone wouldn't want to see their $300 purchase go for $30 at their yard sale. But I bought that $300 item for $30 at another yard sale, used it for a few years and can resell it for $30 so having a sale is worth it to me.
I've always found that large kid items attract the most attention and sell the quickest. Things like big plastic outdoor play items, high chairs, toddler beds, pack & plays, etc. Last year I bought several different types of outdoor toddler swings for $2 each at yard sales. After getting them home and choosing the one that would work best, I turned around and sold the unwanted ones at my yard sale for $5 each.
Since you're doing this for community reasons I really don't have to say this, but be friendly and be available. I can't stand yard sales where the person sits off in the distance with a relative or friend and doesn't even acknowledge a shopper's existence. It's difficult to get help on anything and shoppers feel guilty if they ask them to get up. You don't want to follow them around but you should stay busy and visible in the sale area. I always leave pricing some things and arranging some things(like books just in boxes at the start of sale so I can arrange on tables during)so I have busy work during the sale.
Be open to selling things you don't actually have out in your sale. A lot of times people seem to look quick and leave. If you can get these people to tell you what they're looking for, you may be surprised that you have it and probably should part with it. My dad did this at our last sale. He struck up a conversation with a guy interested in vintage tools and found out he was using them to decorate his man-cave. My dad remembered some 100+ year old traps he had and dug them out of his storage shed. Sold them to the guy for $50.
My parents are great at community sales. They've met so many of their neighbors through them and been able to exchange favors/services with them outside the sales. If you could get a few of your neighbors to run a sale the same day you could turn the sales into a block party and get more neighbors involved that way.

darkelenchus

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Re: Yard Sale
« Reply #13 on: July 04, 2012, 08:57:29 PM »
Have a free box... It's almost like they feel guilty and look extra hard for something to buy.

Great suggestion! We'll definitely do this.

I've always made decent money on sales but that's probably because I'm always selling things that were given to us and things we bought second-hand. I completely understand why someone wouldn't want to see their $300 purchase go for $30 at their yard sale. But I bought that $300 item for $30 at another yard sale, used it for a few years and can resell it for $30 so having a sale is worth it to me.

We have some furniture and other things that our housemate left when he moved out. We're going to offer that stuff for sale, so hopefully we'll make a little bit more than we originally planned.

ToughMother

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Re: Yard Sale
« Reply #14 on: July 04, 2012, 09:50:19 PM »
People enjoy this and it makes my life easier when holding a tag sale:

 I put out several tarps, each w a general price (free, $1, $5...etc and "ask me" for the big stuff). Buyers find it easy and a bit clever. I find it easy.  It also makes it simple to mark things down as the day goes on.  Just move items from one tarp to another or change the sign for a whole tarp of goods.

Good luck!!

darkelenchus

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Re: Yard Sale
« Reply #15 on: July 04, 2012, 09:56:21 PM »
I put out several tarps, each w a general price (free, $1, $5...etc and "ask me" for the big stuff). Buyers find it easy and a bit clever. I find it easy.

This is pretty clever. We'll definitely consider this.

Mr Mark

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Re: Yard Sale
« Reply #16 on: July 04, 2012, 10:08:46 PM »
Bundle stuff up and label the price at say, $5, .

Check Google for rare looking books, knick knacks...

darkelenchus

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Re: Yard Sale
« Reply #17 on: July 05, 2012, 11:42:33 PM »
Check Google for rare looking books, knick knacks...

We got that covered already & sold those items off. :-)

madgeylou

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Re: Yard Sale
« Reply #18 on: July 06, 2012, 05:37:12 AM »
my best tip is to try to make your junk look as attractive as you can, especially if you are selling stuff that has an aesthetic component. if you're selling clothes, jewelry, shoes, purses, etc., have a mirror so ladies can see how they look in 'em. hang up clothing, pair shoes up neatly, arrange like items together on trays or plates. make your set-up inviting.

this isn't important to everyone, but it is to someone like me -- if your stuff is piled up in big rubbermaid containers that i have to dig through, or if you have a bunch of stuff piled up on a tarp, i am not going to be shopping at your yard sale. take the time to lay things out neatly and make the experience as much like shopping in a store as you can. this will automatically encourage people to pay higher prices, and to act more respectfully.

speaking of acting respectfully ... if someone is polite and friendly, i will give them a better deal than if they are a douchebag. in fact i have given stuff away for free to nice people, and have refused to negotiate at all with people who get aggressive with me. i see this as one small way to discourage the douchebaggery that is so rampant in the yard sale community. :)

darkelenchus

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Re: Yard Sale
« Reply #19 on: July 06, 2012, 07:37:52 AM »
take the time to lay things out neatly and make the experience as much like shopping in a store as you can. this will automatically encourage people to pay higher prices, and to act more respectfully.

Makes sense. The mirror tip is especially helpful. We hadn't thought of that....

Quote
speaking of acting respectfully ... if someone is polite and friendly, i will give them a better deal than if they are a douchebag. in fact i have given stuff away for free to nice people, and have refused to negotiate at all with people who get aggressive with me. i see this as one small way to discourage the douchebaggery that is so rampant in the yard sale community. :)

Okay, we'll make the no-douchebag pledge! :-)

CNM

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Re: Yard Sale
« Reply #20 on: July 06, 2012, 02:34:58 PM »
I agree that the best way to sell your stuff is to present it nicely.  That means wiping off all the dust and dirt of old electronics, washing/pressing clothes, and making sure your kitchen stuff is clean.  Place items so they are easy to reach and easy to sort through. Also, on electronics and appliances, check to make sure they are operable and label them accordingly.  The suggestion of having a plug nearby is good so people can verify. 

I also agree that you should try to have some big items- like furniture- at your sale.  Just selling a single dresser for $100 can make it worthwhile and it's a lot easier than selling used CDs.

I have found that jewelry sells really well at yard sales. 

If you have anything that is expensive (i.e. jewelry) place that nearest to the cash box so you can keep an eye on it. 

Make sure you have plenty of signs posted to let people know where to go!  The signs should be clearly visible from a driving car across the street (just a large arrow and "YARD SALE").  There's no need to go into detail on your signs by writing the address or the items for sale on there.  It's impossible to read while driving by. 

Also, unless you have other reasons for doing so, I would not bother having a 2 day sale.  All the good stuff will be gone in the first couple of hours and that is when you will make the most money. 

darkelenchus

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Re: Yard Sale
« Reply #21 on: July 26, 2012, 08:44:52 AM »
So we held the yard sale this past weekend. We were only able to do one day, because my mother-in-law came to visit and she wanted to take a trip to Sturgeon Bay. We used a lot of the advice from the thread, ended up making $101.50, and met more of our neighbors. We sold about 1/3 of the stuff, and took the rest to the thrift store that evening.

Thanks again for all your help, guys! 

tooqk4u22

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Re: Yard Sale
« Reply #22 on: July 26, 2012, 10:08:49 AM »
So we held the yard sale this past weekend. We were only able to do one day, because my mother-in-law came to visit and she wanted to take a trip to Sturgeon Bay. We used a lot of the advice from the thread, ended up making $101.50, and met more of our neighbors. We sold about 1/3 of the stuff, and took the rest to the thrift store that evening.

Thanks again for all your help, guys!

To me that is not worth the effort, especially if you are still working. My DW did this a few years ago, and I wanted no part of it, but she was set on proving me wrong.  So she planned, staged and spent the morning/afternoon doing it and also got about a $100 - in theory not bad for getting rid of our crap and it didn't go to landfill so that is a plus but on an hourly rate basis not worth it at all. I find it is more valuable to donate, get receipts, and take the tax deduction - (taking pictures to keep a record really helps to support value and avoid issues with audit if that is a fear). 

On the other hand you met your neighbors which could make it worth it many times over.

ShavenLlama

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Re: Yard Sale
« Reply #23 on: July 26, 2012, 10:14:46 AM »
I think it's great to do a yard sale at least once in your life. Not only do you get to meet people and (hopefully) have a little fun, but it's a great reinforcer to not buy so much crap. How embarrassing when you can't hardly GIVE your stuff away? :)

tooqk4u22

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Re: Yard Sale
« Reply #24 on: July 26, 2012, 10:30:05 AM »
...but it's a great reinforcer to not buy so much crap. How embarrassing when you can't hardly GIVE your stuff away? :)

You are right on, I used my DW efforts to point this is out.

darkelenchus

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Re: Yard Sale
« Reply #25 on: July 26, 2012, 10:37:34 AM »
To me that is not worth the effort, especially if you are still working.

It was about 5 hours of real labor (making & hanging signs, staging things, price-tagging, posting on local news sites & Craigslist, making a spreadsheet to keep track of sales, et alia; I won't count the time I sat there reading, which was the majority of the day, since I'd have been doing that anyway), so roughly $20 an hour. That's a little less than my wife's hourly wage. But I did about 99% of the work, and those 5 hours of yard sale brought in much more money than teaching at a university for the same number of hours (sadly, my hourly rate for teaching hovers around minimum wage). Also, I don't get paid during the summer, since my teaching & research contracts don't cover the summer months. If I had a job making $50 an hour, a yard sale wouldn't be worth it from a purely financial perspective. But "worth it" is relative to one's income.

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Re: Yard Sale
« Reply #26 on: July 26, 2012, 10:58:46 AM »
I get all that and don't necessarily disagree but I would still count the time your sitting there - sure you may have been sitting and reading anyway but would it have been in your driveway or in your backyard, park, beach. 

But it is valid point for DIY in general and now it seems I may be a bit of a hypocrite...I have had plenty of people say its not worth it to DIY (u-pick: cut grass, reno bathroom, wash car, etc.) because I/you make more than what you would pay someone to do it.  And my reponse almost always is sure I may make more than I could pay those people but if I am not actually working or making money on that particular day then it is not the case and is merely a tradeoff of my time.

i.e. if Sunday rolls around and I am scheduled be off but plan on doing xyz project over 10 hours and someone comes to me and says hey I will give you $800 to do this work (about 10 hours) for me and I confim that I can pay someone $400 to complete my project then I would take the paid work and pay someone to do my work.  Of course in reality I would defer my project until the next day off.

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Re: Yard Sale
« Reply #27 on: July 26, 2012, 10:59:39 AM »
This may be a bit late for your sale but for any having one down the line, I heard this bit of advice on the Bob & Tom Show.
Price everything at twice the price you want to sell it for and put up signs that say everything is 50% off.

A) You are playing on the average person's desire to get a deal, which means they may be even more willing to buy something they might not have before.
B) It should minimialize haggling, I mean, you've already taken prices down by half.

kisserofsinners

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Re: Yard Sale
« Reply #28 on: July 26, 2012, 01:08:48 PM »
This may be a bit late for your sale but for any having one down the line, I heard this bit of advice on the Bob & Tom Show.
Price everything at twice the price you want to sell it for and put up signs that say everything is 50% off.

A) You are playing on the average person's desire to get a deal, which means they may be even more willing to buy something they might not have before.
B) It should minimialize haggling, I mean, you've already taken prices down by half.

Damn that's good.

darkelenchus

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Re: Yard Sale
« Reply #29 on: July 26, 2012, 01:09:08 PM »
I get all that and don't necessarily disagree but I would still count the time your sitting there - sure you may have been sitting and reading anyway but would it have been in your driveway or in your backyard, park, beach. 

But it is valid point for DIY in general and now it seems I may be a bit of a hypocrite...I have had plenty of people say its not worth it to DIY (u-pick: cut grass, reno bathroom, wash car, etc.) because I/you make more than what you would pay someone to do it.  And my reponse almost always is sure I may make more than I could pay those people but if I am not actually working or making money on that particular day then it is not the case and is merely a tradeoff of my time.

i.e. if Sunday rolls around and I am scheduled be off but plan on doing xyz project over 10 hours and someone comes to me and says hey I will give you $800 to do this work (about 10 hours) for me and I confim that I can pay someone $400 to complete my project then I would take the paid work and pay someone to do my work.  Of course in reality I would defer my project until the next day off.

Right. Comparing DIY and hourly wage can be like comparing apples and oranges. The real comparison in this case is between the 5 hours of work it takes to get the yard sale up and running vs. the 45 minutes or so it takes to haul the stuff to a donation center and get a receipt for a tax deduction. Obviously the rational choice is the latter, purely from a financial & time saving perspective and all other things being equal. But all things aren't equal, since we were motivated by the experience and to get to know some others in our neighborhood.

It's a great reinforcer to not buy so much crap. How embarrassing when you can't hardly GIVE your stuff away? :)

Yes! This is very true. That realization gradually grew from the time we started thinking about having the yard sale to the point where we dropped the stuff we didn't sell off at the the Goodwill. The feeling of not having to manage all that stuff is definitely a stronger incentive than wanting to buy more junk.

This may be a bit late for your sale but for any having one down the line, I heard this bit of advice on the Bob & Tom Show.
Price everything at twice the price you want to sell it for and put up signs that say everything is 50% off.

A) You are playing on the average person's desire to get a deal, which means they may be even more willing to buy something they might not have before.
B) It should minimialize haggling, I mean, you've already taken prices down by half.

I don't know if we'll have another yard sale, given that we're adopting a minimalist approach. But if we ever do decide to hold another one, this is most definitely a great suggestion.

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Re: Yard Sale
« Reply #30 on: July 26, 2012, 08:15:02 PM »
This may be a bit late for your sale but for any having one down the line, I heard this bit of advice on the Bob & Tom Show.
Price everything at twice the price you want to sell it for and put up signs that say everything is 50% off.

A) You are playing on the average person's desire to get a deal, which means they may be even more willing to buy something they might not have before.
B) It should minimialize haggling, I mean, you've already taken prices down by half.

Damn that's good.
Even better - double prices as above,but say buy one, get 1 same price or less free. People perceive this as a much better deal, even though it's the same mathematically.

happy

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Re: Yard Sale
« Reply #31 on: July 27, 2012, 01:39:01 AM »
So we held the yard sale this past weekend. We were only able to do one day, because my mother-in-law came to visit and she wanted to take a trip to Sturgeon Bay. We used a lot of the advice from the thread, ended up making $101.50, and met more of our neighbors. We sold about 1/3 of the stuff, and took the rest to the thrift store that evening.

Thanks again for all your help, guys!

Thanks for posting the update Dark! Its been a darn good thread with lots of great ideas, which I will refer back to if I ever change my mind and do another one. Hopefully I won't need to since  I'm reducing the  buying of stuff.

darkelenchus

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Re: Yard Sale
« Reply #32 on: July 27, 2012, 09:12:02 AM »
Thanks for posting the update Dark!

No problem! Here's another update: We had three ceiling fans that we put out that no one bought and that we decided to try to sell on Craigslist or Ebay local pickup instead of haul to the Goodwill. Well, somebody came by yesterday evening and said they saw the fans for sale but couldn't stop at the time. They said they were a perfect fit for a house they're renovating, and ended up buying all of them for a total of $150. So, grand total: $251.50.