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Judy Kucharuk: Post-traumatic garage sale syndrome

It has been a little over a week; sufficient time for me to have overcome the PTGSS — or Post-traumatic Garage Sale Syndrome — from a recent Friday and Saturday garage sale we hosted.
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Judy Kucharuk: "How do you price this stuff? The wrong answer is when you try to price the memory and not the thing."

It has been a little over a week; sufficient time for me to have overcome the PTGSS — or Post-traumatic Garage Sale Syndrome — from a recent Friday and Saturday garage sale we hosted.

I have had time to truly reflect on why I find garage sales so EXHAUSTING and emotionally draining and I wonder if anyone else experiences the same?

First of all, it truly takes a village to put together a garage sale properly. A perfect scenario would have been having the team of Antique Roadshow on hand to help price everything, but that was not an option (if we could have, we would have), and maybe the team from Go Clean Co to ensure everything was sparkling clean.

Sale items vary from an antique plate collection to ice fishing rods. There are housewares, rugs, collectibles, and tools – generally everything from soup to nuts.

Now, the hard part begins: how do you price this stuff? The wrong answer is when you try to price the memory and not the ‘thing’. Seriously, the lady with the funny hat who had been wandering the sale for the past hour and had collected a myriad of things, did not proceed to checkout prepared to hear the long, sad story about how, “This cup was the same cup I drank out of when Grandpa used to take me to the water spring.” 

I mean, it is a cute anecdote, but do you think that she was going to think about that every time she uses it? Intellectually I know that the silly cup is worth 50 cents, so why did I ask for $2?

I was pricing the memory and not the thing.

Unfortunately, most folks don’t care about the lineage or stories attached to some items at your garage sale. It was something I should have understood BEFORE the sale, not afterwards.

Lastly, reason number 4,665 why I hate holding a garage sale is this scenario:

Customer holding item priced at $40: “Ohhhhhh… my meemaw used to rock me to sleep while sitting in this very same type of chair. Look! It even has chew marks on the wood exactly where we had chew marks on ours! Would you take $10?”

Me – wiping away the tears after hearing their story: “Sure. I will take $10 because it will be going to a good home.”

Later that night scrolling Facebook marketplace and I see the exact chair listed for sale for $150.


Judy Kucharuk lives and writes in Dawson Creek.