All you need to know about garage sales

Everything I know about life, I learned as a garage- sale hostess. Here are some cheap, miscellaneous truths. They're yours for a quarter. Oh, sure, I'll go down to a nickel.

Rule 1: What's not for sale behind the rope will always excite the customer more than what's in front of the rope. Follow-up: If you really want to sell that broken TV, stick it behind the rope.

Rule 2: If you set the clothes out the evening before, it'll rain. If you stay up till 3 a.m. rearranging the garage so you can hold the sale inside, it'll be sunny.

Rule 3: Aunt Turley, who hasn't visited in 10 years, will show up the day you try to sell the clothespin bag she crocheted as a wedding gift.

Rule 4: Within 24 hours of selling the never-used waffle iron, you'll crave waffles like crazy.

Rule 5: The junky chair that you thought was too ugly to steal will spark a slugfest between two dealers.

Rule 6: Leftover rummage expands. It will never fit back into the boxes and bags from which it emerged.

Rule 7: The rooster-haired doll that your kid ignored for two years will become more precious than Grandma the second you slap a price tag on it. Follow-up: The day after the garage sale, the kid will once again ignore the doll.

Rule 8: The first customer will spend a quarter and pay with a $50.

Rule 9: People who don't own birds will buy bird cages, but no one buys old underwear.

Rule 10: Ninety-nine percent of your trash will be nobody's treasure.

Rule 11: Only an optimist buys a 1,000-piece puzzle at a garage sale.

Rule 12: The shopper who chisels you down to a dollar will pay with a $20.

Rule 13: If you say "8 a.m." in the classified ad, people will arrive by flashlight and matchlight before dawn. If you say "dawn," they won't show up till noon.

Rule 14: The day after you sell it, you'll read that it's a hot collectible and the Japanese can't pay enough for it.

Rule 15: If the price is right, it doesn't fit. If it fits, the price isn't right.

Rule 16: The minute a customer plugs in the "yes, it works perfectly" fan, it will stop working.

Rule 17: Everyone but the garage- sale hostess will have a clean garage after the sale. "Everything goes" only in your relatives' and friends' garages after they donate their broken badminton rackets and one-handled rolling pins to your sale.

Rule 18: After you pay the kids half the profits to run the sale and deduct the day's doughnuts and pizza, if you wind up only $100 in the hole, consider it a bargain. Your garage sale was a triple-A gigantic success.

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