Archive for September, 2011

September 24, 2011

A Craigslist Garage Sale: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

by Melissa {The Dominion Project}

The last couple of days have been quite an adventure. Ethan and I held a garage sale at the house, much of which was fueled by Craig and his famous list. I feel like the whole process has been a mix of ups and downs, so figured I’d share and pass along some tidbits!

I should first say that the main reason for the garage sale was my parents. Last month they sold and moved out of their large 4 bedroom home in Sugar Land (just a 30 minute drive from us). This was the first of many steps they’ll be taking toward retirement over the next few years. You can read all about their journey from suburbia to their rural lakefront property in North Alabama on my dad’s blog (how cool is it that my dad has a blog!?)

when cold springs lewis smith lake alabama blog

So Mom and Dad are downsizing and cleaning out. And Ethan and I finally decided to part with some items we’d been holding onto, not knowing what we’d want/need when we eventually moved into a house (which was over a year ago…let’s sell it already!) So we put a garage sale date on the calendar!

I’m beginning to feel like newspaper ads for garage sales are definitely a thing of the past. So my plan was to list the sale and all the large furniture items on craigslist (I saw this as the way to bring in “serious shoppers.”) Then we would place signs on the busy roads around our neighborhood to drive in the local traffic. Our area of town seems to be a “hot spot” for Saturday garage sales (especially when the weather is nice), and the signs definitely did the trick.

The sale was this morning (Saturday), so Thursday evening, I took photos of all the furniture pieces and parked myself in front of the computer to write individual posts for each one. It took me almost an hour, but was well worth the time because I saw almost immediate results. The next morning I was inundated with emails, phone calls and text messages from people wanting our stuff! It wasn’t long before I realized I’d have to start keeping track of these people – names and phone numbers/emails to remember who wanted what and when they were coming by. But I just loved the adrenaline rush! :)

Ultimately, everything sold for the listed price or above (crazy, I know).

The computer armoire was definitely the most popular. After selling it on Friday and taking down the listing, I continued to get texts/calls from the garage sale listing (which included a picture of it) ALL DAY today. It went to a nice lady named Sylvia who begged me to hold it for her until she could pick it up today. She even threw in an extra $15 so I knew she was serious. She has big plans to make it into her sewing cabinet, so I know it has a great new home!

Next in popularity was this arched bookcase on the left. Once again, multiple people were begging me to hold it for them, but I went with the “first person to contact me” approach on this guy. A lady named Mary (who texted me…I never actually spoke to her), sent her husband and daughter to pick it up Friday evening. She wanted it, full-price, no questions asked, sight unseen. Love it!

This not-so-fancy bookcase on the right was a whole different story. I got a phone call from Victoria on Friday morning and she was VERY serious about this thing. She called me to say she was driving to my house at that very minute to pay for it, and she’d be back to pick it up the next day. (Whatever you want lady!) But today she called me in middle of our sale to say she didn’t want it anymore – it wasn’t going to fit in her daughter’s room. She was sending her husband to get her money back, but “it’s okay if you sell it now.”

I was quite upset with her (and made sure to tell her so) – especially since I’d listed the dimensions on CL, but more because I’d turned down multiple offers for it this morning! When her husband arrived to collect her money, I was really tempted to only give him $15 back – a $5 charge for my inconvenience. Either that, or demand that all sales were final and instruct him to take it away. But I chose the passive-agressive and returned his 20 bucks. It sold (for the full $20) to a couple just an hour or so later, so I guess it’s all good.

Ok, back to happier sales experiences. This desk/chair/hutch combo went on Friday as well. A lady named Darla called me, saying she lived in Deer Park (a city about 1 hour from us) but wanted to come pick it up right away. She only asked that if I sold it before she got there, I give her a call. Since she was driving an hour across town, I was pretty sure she was a serious buyer. I definitely held this guy until she and her mother pulled up in the neighbor’s pickup. When she arrived, she immediately handed me the cash and proclaimed that she had no plans of talking me down. You know Darla? I sure do like you!

The last thing to sell was our china hutch. Ethan bought this guy before we were married for a whopping 75 bucks at a garage sale. It held his camping equipment (such a guy!) until we were married and china took over (I guess that’s the way it goes for guys, huh?) So we strategically listed it for $125 and made a nice little profit, just like the berry rug! A lady named Shawna drove from Magnolia (another city about an hour from us) to pick this guy up, and text me a play-by-play of her location the whole time she was driving – what a riot! While loading it into her truck, she told me that her husband collected shot glasses and she collected “Marvin the Martian,” and that’s what she planned to display in the glass-front cabinets. Definitely a step down from china. And possibly down from camping gear? But she paid full-price and took it away, so whatever floats your boat lady!

And while all the furniture pick-up madness was going on this morning, we were still selling the small stuff (household stuff, clothes, etc.) to all the sign-following shoppers. After closing down around 11am, my dad and Ethan took the remaining items to a local charity for donation – always good for an end-of-year write-off!

So all in all, it was definitely a success! But just to give you the FULL picture (as if I haven’t written enough already!), here’s my evaluation of the CL-fueled garage sale…

THE GOOD
If you price furniture pieces right, and create a sense of urgency, things will go fast! In each listing, I said the pieces were available by appointment on Friday or they would be sold in the garage sale on Saturday. That definitely lit a fire under people – I actually had them bidding against each other on the phone!

THE BAD
It’s a little unnerving to give your personal information – your name, home address, email and phone number – to complete strangers. My rule though, is to make sure I’m never at home alone. Ethan had the day off work on Friday and I was working from home. So with two people and a not-so-ferocious dog (who’s more likely to lick you to death than attack), I felt fairly safe. And as someone pointed out this morning, you’re essentially doing the same thing (inviting strangers to your home) with a garage sale, so what’s the difference? I guess I’m not selling highly valuable items either, so I don’t fear being attached or something like you hear in those scary stories on the evening news.

THE UGLY
This award definitely goes to the scams. I had 7 ads listed (5 for furniture pieces one for an old rug that didn’t sell and one for the sale in general) and ended up with two scam emails. I’m not sure if those odds are good or bad, but here’s what you should look out for.

#1 – Chris, the personal information gatherer
Chris sent me emails on three of the furniture pieces just hours after I’d posted, wanting to know if they were still available. After replying “yes,” he requested I take the advertisement of CL (for just one furniture piece now). He claimed he didn’t have time to look today, but would gladly pay an extra $20 to secure the piece. He could mail me a cashier’s check and send a mover to pick it up. All he needed was my full name, mailing address and phone number. It seemed a little fishy to me. No thanks, Chris – this is a cash only kind of sale. You must be present to purchase!

#2 – Gina, the work-from-home program promoter
Gina, just like Chris, contacted me via email. She first asked if the piece was still available. After replying “yes” (just like Chris), she responded with her email scam. Gina claimed she “actually couldn’t buy anything right now” because her son wrecked her van. Then proceeded to tell me all about how she was making “really good money” working from home right now and the company had openings for two new positions in the Houston area. (Just my luck!!) She included the link and asked that I not share it with anyone, since the positions are snatched up pretty quickly – her sister was going to take one of them and I could have the other! I have to say, it was a really strange transition from purchasing a rug, to a wrecked van, to her awesome new job. And why would she contact me if she can’t buy anything? Sorry Gina – that email doesn’t even warrant a response!

So there you have it. A very full two days, but our garage is cleaner and we’re just a little bit richer. Anyone else with bizarre CL experiences? Surely I’m not the only one fighting off scams.

September 23, 2011

A Decision At Last

by Melissa {The Dominion Project}

Well, I finally did it. I bought a rug for the living room. For the last year (plus), I have been a complete indecisive mess about what I wanted. And in the meantime, we’ve had a mess of a make-shift rug – 12 commercial carpet squares (in the same general color family) that I snagged from an old elementary school project at my last job. I’m not even sharing a picture. Why? Because it’s actually that hideous.

But this week I reached my breaking point and just ordered one. A nice 8×10 traditional wool rug from Pottery Barn. I have to say the 15% off sale they’re having right now (along with an additional 10% designer discount AND a $25 gift card) pretty much sealed the deal. It should be on my doorstep sometime next week. What do you think??

pottery barn alexandra persian-style rug

To fully appreciate the importance of this decision, I think we need to revisit the last rug purchase I made for our living room. This was months ago, and I probably should have written about it then (bad blogger), but I was completely defeated by the experience and couldn’t bear to write about. Now that I’m past the drama, it’s really rather amusing. So here it goes…

I’d just recently attended an event at the Houston Design Center with my friend Marie. We listened to interior designer extraordinaire, Mary McDonald, speak about some of her recent projects. She was such a riot – if you ever get a chance to hear her speak, it was actually quite fun!

One thing I specifically remember her saying, was something about putting a contemporary rug with grandma’s furniture…how it could instantly update your whole space. Granted, she’s talking about multi-million dollar homes with million dollar decorating budgets, which doesn’t exactly describe me. But since we’re definitely living with grandma-esque hand-me-down furniture, I filed that tidbit in the back of my mind.

A few weeks later when I was perusing Joss and Main, another one of those daily deals websites, I ran across this Angela Adams rug and just knew I’d struck gold. It was just the colors I was envisioning for our living room (greys, teals, greens)…contemporary, but not too contemporary…not to stuffy and just a little bit fun. In my little head, it was just perfect. So I started designing the entire living room around it. This bad boy was just the inspiration I needed.

Then the rug arrived at our door. (You’ll want to pause here for dramatic effect…) After I did a little happy dance because the perfect rug had finally arrived, Ethan helped me lug it into the house. Did I mention it was 9×12? I’ve now come to realize is slightly large for our living room…even if you’re trying to make a statement. But apparently I was distracted by this amazing deal.

Once we got it inside, I took a closer look and could see the edges of the rug through the protective plastic. That’s when I started to get that “oh no what did you just buy??” sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. The edges of this rug were most definitely brown – not the beautiful grey/blue/green combination I was expecting. And here’s what the grand unveiling produced.

There were so many things wrong it.
#1 – The field color was brown, not grey.
#2 – The blues and greens were a little too “neon” for my liking.
#3 – The berries were MASSIVE!
#4 – Do you see the zebra-esque striping across the entire thing? Ethan has a strong dislike for anything that even remotely suggests an animal print…that may have been the breaking point.

After unrolling this thing, Ethan and I stood in silence for probably 30 seconds before I started jabbering, trying to make it work. I thought if maybe, just maybe, there was furniture on top of it, the rug wouldn’t be quite so obnoxious. But before I got too far, Ethan, aka The Voice of Reason, put his two sense in – “Melissa…it’s just ugly!” I knew he was right. And boy, do I hate being wrong!!

So what did this resourceful girl do? I craigslisted it. (Is that a verb? If not, I just made it one.) Joss and Main wouldn’t accept returns on this particular item (which I knew when I bought it), but since I’d purchased it for considerably less than it retailed online, I started thinking I could make a profit. All I needed was one interested buyer…just one.

I re-listed that rug on craigslist every two to three days for a couple of weeks, just to make sure it didn’t get buried in everyone else’s junk. And finally, I got a bite. A lady who lives just a few miles from us who was redecorating her house. AND her husband was out of town (so as she saw it, he had no say in the purchase). This time I’d really struck gold. She came by, paid just under my asking price, and hauled that awful looking mess of berries away from my house. And the best part? We made $100 of pure profit!

We’re on another craigslist-selling adventure this weekend, that’s been just as amusing…if not more. I’ll definitely have to share the high points. But for now, this girl needs to get her beauty rest – we have a garage sale in the morning!

September 3, 2011

The Forgotten Room

by Melissa {The Dominion Project}

Hi there. I know most of you (if there’s anyone still reading this) think I’ve completely forgotten about this little blog. Well I haven’t. Life has just been incredibly busy and blogging/renovating have fallen pretty low on the priority list. But since we have a long weekend ahead of us, with absolutely nothing on our schedules, Ethan and I thought a little DIY work might be a good idea!

Remember this room?

{oh yes, we do have a half bathroom!}

Well, truth be told, Ethan and I kind of forgot about it. When you have two other bathrooms in your house, and the door is just closed to this one, it pretty much disappears. But last night, we opened it back up and FINALLY sealed the floor after grouting it back in June. (Tip – Marble is super porous…it’s a real good idea to seal it, so you don’t have problems with discoloration down the road).

Here’s our June grouting adventure. Dad helped/instructed since this was our first tile job.

And after some buffing (which took much more elbow grease than I expected), the floor looked like this. It pretty much looks the same now that it’s sealed…just a little shinier.

Well, we’re off to Lowe’s to purchase trim (since we ripped it all out in our gut-job)! Maybe by Monday this room will be operable again…you know, with a sink and a toilet? Fingers crossed!

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