Monday, April 14, 2014

Yard Sales and Anarchy

I'm a pretty analytical and opinionated person.  I've even recently been called cynical and grumpy and arrogant...all of which are true, at least on occasion.  But I'm human, and most humans fight the same battles.  It's just that most of them don't fight them on such public fronts.  I like to say what isn't being said, and I like to challenge people to question everything and to think for themselves.  If that makes me cynical and grumpy and arrogant...I guess I'm okay with that.

However, it doesn't take much to jump up on a soap box and complain about the ills of society and the woes of the world.  When there is so much dysfunction in society to look at, it's easy to get distracted from all the wonderful absolutely brilliantly good things that are happening, too.  So here is just one small effort on my part to blog about all that is right with the world.

Yard Sales.

Also known as garage sales, tag sales, moving sales, etc.  I saw bunches of them this weekend.  Now that the weather is warming up nicely and people are engaged in their annual spring cleaning, we are sure to see even more in the coming weeks (Goody!).  People hauling their unwanted stuff into the great outdoors, littering up their lawns and driveways, and generally stopping the safe flow of traffic.

Look at these yard sale anarchists!
You can find some pretty sweet deals at yard sales.  In fact, on any given Saturday morning in Spring you can find everything from running shoes to vintage drapes, from top-of-the-line ski equipment to power tools in their original packaging.  It's exciting and thrilling and not unlike an Easter egg hunt, but with better prizes than cheap plastic eggs (although you'll probably be able to find those, too)

I won't buy anything at the listed price.  I will haggle and negotiate and bargain my way into the best deal possible.  And I'm not afraid to just walk away if the price isn't right.

And that's the really cool thing about yard sales.  There's something you just don't find in more conventional transactions.  It's called mutual benefit.  It's the beauty of negotiation.  After a yard sale transaction, both parties walk away feeling like they got something of value, even if it's just finally clearing some space in the garage.  Often times, both parties feel like they've gotten the better deal.  They might even feel slightly guilty for conning the other guy.  Why?  Because they both profited.  They both feel like they gained something of real value.

They mutually decided on the value of an object, and they did it without any government intervention or bureaucracy red tape.  There were no fair trade laws or regulations by the National Department of Yard Sales, no price-setting monopolies or regulated markets.  In most cases, there were no income taxes to be filed or sales tax to be paid (although I'm told that in some places a citizen must actually purchase a Yard Sale permit...That does kind of make me grumpy).  Add in the feeling of moral superiority for not lining the pockets of big box retailer executives and CEO's...or draining the earth of natural resources (It's recycling at it's finest)...or supporting Chinese sweatshops...Oh! and keeping your dollars in a local economy by helping your neighbors... and it's like you've racked up extra Karma bonus points....Plus you've walked away with something super cool (like a Sponge Bob lunch box or an ugly Christmas sweater or some random picture frames).

With all of this mutual benefit and voluntary transaction and unregulated capitalism, it's amazing that our democracy hasn't collapsed.

In fact, yard sales may be the most brilliant form of citizen insubordination in the modern world.  But be careful out there.  Shopping at too many unregulated yard sales is liable to land you on the domestic terrorist list.  Everyone knows we yard sale junkies are just a bunch of anarchists!

1 comment:

Eric Towell said...

Amen, Alice! We can take back America one Leif Garrett cassette or box of Mason jars at a time!! :)

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