Since we don't have garages, we can't have garage sales. (We do have yards, but we can't have yard sales either.) But apparently Okinawans love a good junk sale, so to make it happen, Outdoor Rec sells parking spaces for $15 ($10 if you're moving like us...$0 if you know the guy working the register like us!) every other weekend. They give an hour and a half to set up and then open the gates to the public.
I was a little bit concerned that we wouldn't get much business today, since it is so close to Christmas and I guess since maybe people aren't really in the garage-sale state of mind when it's not spring or summer. Boy was I wrong. I'd heard that when they open the sale to the public, it's a madhouse, but I thought it was an exaggeration. Nope. There were shoppers coming in to park at the same time we were driving in to set up. And I almost thought I just hadn't heard the starting gun go off or something because it seriously was like a race to the flea market! People were RUNNING. Hundreds of Japanese people RUNNING to buy my garbage!
Oh, but wait... I forgot one thing. IMMEDIATELY upon opening the back of the car, the other vendors were hanging out in our spot, looking in our car, peering in with flashlights to check out our goods. I had heard that the "regulars" buy your stuff during the set-up/pre-sale time and then mark it up and sell it at their own booth. We hadn't been there 4 minutes (or gotten half of our things set out) before we made our first $11! David sold a golf bag pull-cart for $10 and I sold a clear plastic case for $1. I'm glad I listened to my inner voice saying "take it all" because I almost left that at home because I didn't figure anyone would want it. By the way, later I did a little espionage and went to the guy with the pull-cart and asked how much he wanted for it...$30. Obviously he doesn't really follow the "10%" rule of thumb because that thing brand new only cost $40.
We priced our junk (I mean merchandise) to sell. I figured if we made $15, we'd be coming home with more than we would if we dropped it at the thrift store/Airman's Attic (which is what we will do with the leftovers). All of my clothes were 100 Yen. (The exchange rate is currently a nauseating 88Yen to the dollar) OH my goodness. I just decided to check and make sure that I was right about thinking that was terrible and it turns out...happy surprise!...it's actually good. I made more money than I thought I did. Yippee!! So, the exchange rate is actually only nauseating when you are buying things, not when you are selling! Duh...don't know why that hadn't crossed my mind already.
So...the running people come and it's like a crazy mob. People holding stuff up and you say 100. Then they either take it or leave it or haggle with you. Someone didn't want to pay $3 for a pair of my old running shoes. I am very attached to my old running shoes (I did convince myself to put out 3 pairs...and still have 6. Plus the ones I am currently running in). I was telling people, "Listen, I wore these for 3 months. Look how clean and nice they are. They are very comfortable. They were $120!" I wanted to tell them, "How many other small-footed people selling gently worn high-quality athletic shoes do you think you're going to find around here?" Eventually I managed to get the $3. One lady tried them on and it was soooooo strange to see MY running shoe on someone else's foot. I didn't like it. I almost bumped the price to $4.
Meanwhile, David's 6-year old pair of Air Jordans with the soles falling off sold for $2...no haggling necessary. The people here looooooove name brands. LOVE Nike. Too bad my running shoes are all Saucony or else they probably would've sold for double the price! But we were surprised that some of what we consider "big brands" got passed right over. Lots of our clothes were great condition Abercrombie, American Eagle, Banana Republic, Express and people would pick it up, look at the tag and toss it aside. But a pretty worn out armpit-stained shirt with a Nike Swoosh would get a "real Nike?" and an enthusiastic hundred Yen. Even a purple-and-green pair of Umbro soccer shorts (which I've had since at least 1996) sold for a buck because they were "Ooombro!"
Half-used Yankee Candles went for 100-200 Yen, but I couldn't get 300 for a brand new in-the-box Calvin Klein perfume/shower gel set.
Lots of girls liked my clothes but a few of them chose a whole bunch and then I'd count it up and say, "Okay...13 things are 1300 Yen, but 1000 is okay" and then they'd hold out their hand with 9 and dig in their pockets like they didn't have any more money, so I sold it. Then 30 minutes later, they were back buying more...miraculously, they had gotten more money. But some other people didn't think twice about paying 100 Yen, and even were thinking they got a great deal. I liked those people. I especially liked the lady who came and offered me 300 Yen for a pair of old Nine West shoes that I wore the heck out of and was ecstatic that I accepted her offer. I almost felt like I was taking advantage of her because I was trying to sell them to the lady before her for only 50 Yen and I was giving them 3 more minutes before putting them in the "FREE STUFF" box. I thought the "FREE STUFF" box should have been a "FREE WITH PURCHASE" box, but David had already labeled the box.
We ended up making about $225. (Plus the $3 I found in the pocket of a pair of old torn up soccer shorts I put in the "free stuff" box!) I'm sure we could've made much more (Uhh...people were not really willing to buy 20 sheets of 12x12 scrapbook paper for a dollar. They don't know a good deal when they see one!) but my objective was to get rid of as much as possible, not to make as much as possible. I think you have to choose one or the other. I have plenty of scrapbook paper at home and I was going to give it away anyway, so I ended up selling each bursting-at-the-seams bag for 300-500 Yen. It was actually surprisingly fun to gather up my stuff when I thought I could get some money for it. And of course, it was super-fun to count up all that money!! If I were going to be here longer, I'd probably want to attempt the flea market again!
Now...what to do with the money is a bit of a debate. I thought we should each get what we sold. But that would've been impossible to track because it was such a madhouse. 50-50 or "all in the bank account and spend as you wish" didn't seem fair either, because I got rid of a lot more stuff than David and a lot of the clothes I finally decided I could part with had been a part of my life for years. Like since high school. And my 10 year reunion was this year. Then one of the ScrapVillage girls gave me the idea that maybe we could put the money toward a furniture purchase or something like that. That way one of us is not clearly benefiting more than the other (but still, I'm sort of benefiting most because I want the piece of furniture, and I like the idea of that). But...I went out to look today and can't find the piece of furniture. So we'll see if one turns up or if we'll have to come up with another plan for our profits.