The thing I’ve always loved about living in Somerville — and about hosting yard sales — is how unassuming people are, chatting with random strangers, making an effort to meet their neighbors and connect with their community through the things we share in common.
Since we made the bittersweet decision to leave the city that I’ve called home on and off for close to 35 years, I wanted to make our moving sale an absolutely epic party — drawing in as many of our neighbors and as much of the community as possible, especially since we also decided to sell off more than half our belongings (donating the rest to Goodwill and hoping that shopping karma will do its work on the other end).
Having the Skee-Ball machine up & running definitely helped:
Throwing caution to the wind — that maybe we were too old, or maybe I was trying to do too much — I added a sidewalk lemonade stand and bake sale to the mix, which turned out to be a brilliant move. Since our house is right on the busy walking route between four residential neighborhoods and the weekly Union Square Farmer’s Market, we had hundreds of passersby during the course of the day, including friends and former colleagues, some of whom we hadn’t seen in years, stopping to check out the lemonade stand before realizing how big the yard sale was.
We also sold out of all of our homemade lemonade, Sriracha salt, and Nutella crispy treats in the first few hours — to the tune of about $60! Add that to the Skee-Ball machine (sniffle, sob, sob) and the rest of our curated, professionally merchandized castoffs (key at any yard sale), and we made out like bandits with a yard sale profit of over $2,000 — about ten times the average for a household yard sale ($292, according to Garage Sale Trail). Not a bad way to make some quick cash from things we already owned and now don’t have to pay to move!
Sure, it was almost the equivalent of five full days spent preparing, cleaning, pricing, and merchandizing our belongings, but now I remember just how thrilling and fulfilling yard sales can be — and I’m sure I’m going to be hosting them more often in our new city (more on that soon), complete with another grown-up lemonade stand.
If you want to host your own this summer, as a way to make short money or just meet your neighbors, I highly recommend using this recipe from Cook’s Country/America’s Test Kitchen, then selling the lemonade in Ball or Mason jars, Pinterest cocktail tub style. It’s a bit labor intensive (I reduced the amount of sugar and added a cube of frozen mint to each jar, making it a little more tart and infusing a little more refreshing flavor), but we sold out at $3/jar making it all worthwhile.
We saved a few crispy treats and two jars of lemonade for a celebratory picnic on the Charles River the next day, where we toasted to a job well done and to new adventures up ahead…right after we finish our Boston bucket list.
Story & photos: Copyright 2013, Shoestring LLC.