Why we sell what we sell: Behind every NH yard sale, there's a story

Union Leader Correspondent
July 16. 2012 10:37PM
Corbin Heasley, 11, of Goffstown, dressed in a modified Ninja suit, draws a crowd to his family's yard sale. (NANCY BEAN FOSTER PHOTO)
FROM MAKING new friends to caring for the environment to keeping the peace at home, there's a lot more to yard sales than just buying and selling junk.

Yard sales, garage and barn sales, or even, in the western part of the state, tag sales, give people a chance to make a little money while eliminating some of the clutter. And behind every sale, there seems to be a story.

'Basically, the girlfriend said either the stuff goes, or I go,' said Bob Ball, whose collection of cowboy hats, tools and reloading equipment was scattered on the driveway of his New Boston home.

'I have to cut my inventory,' he said, 'or I'm afraid this stuff will outlive me.'

Ball, who's retired, said he's a 'neat hoarder' and he often finds himself at other people's yard sales buying things he already has.

'I might see a drill for a few bucks at a yard sale and buy it just in case the one I have breaks,' he said. But those purchases have started to add up, so on a recent Saturday he decided to let some of his collection go.

Just up the road in Goffstown, Corbin Heasley, 11, dressed in a Ninja costume and a straw hat to catch the attention of passers-by with his neon yard sale sign. His mom, Amie, shook her head at her son as he brought customers in who picked over the selection on the front lawn.

'We just bought a new house,' said Heasley, 'and this house is going on the market next week. This is the stuff we're not keeping anymore.'

For Rebekah Chabot, 13, in Weare, her family's yard sale Saturday was a chance for her to earn a little money for fun during summer vacation, and to de-clutter a bit while she redecorates her room.

'I'm painting my room, so it was getting in the way so I decided to sell it,' she said

Other people's stuff

On North River Road in Milford on a recent Saturday, Harold Webster sat outside in a pale blue easy chair waiting for folks to stop by and pick through his selection. Webster's yard sale was a bit different than most because he wasn't selling stuff from his house, but from other people's homes.

Webster gets called in when people are downsizing, moving, or even having their properties foreclosed. He said people spend Saturday mornings going to yard sales as a form of entertainment. But the economy has been tough on Webster and his customers.

'In this economy, you don't have to go yard-saling,' he said. 'You have to eat.'

He is seeing a lot more movement lately, especially furniture.

'Young people like older stuff,' said Webster, adding: 'They want stuff that's going to last.'

From junk to gems

For Cindy Nemec, yard sales are where she finds inspiration and inventory for her hobby, selling home décor.

'There's nothing better than getting up early in the morning, grabbing a cup of coffee, and going out to yard sales,' she said.

Nemec, of Mont Vernon, buys furniture and decorative items at the yard sales, brings them home, and lets her imagination take over. Using various painting techniques, a good gloss of Tung oil or varnish, and sometimes just a good scrubbing with Murphy Oil Soap, she transforms yard sale fodder into desirable home goods.

'I'm the person who goes and finds these things for people who don't like going to yard sales,' she said. 'I love getting a good deal, and then passing a good deal onto somebody else.'

Nemec also believes it's the environmentally responsible thing to do.

'I look at each piece and think, 'Can I find a new life for it and keep it out of the landfill?'' she said. 'Some pieces just need a little bit of love.'


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