Kindness is trending these days. Perhaps it is a result of a recent commencement address offered by George Saunders to students graduating from Syracuse University. Not only has the speech “gone viral,” it has been featured in the mainstream media in the New York Times and on “Good Morning America.” It has morphed into an acclaimed book called “Tenth of December: Stories.”
Whatever the reason for the popularity of the topic in particular and the sentiment in general, it probably will not surprise you that kindness is more than just contagious. It can literally impact the bottom line of a business, especially a non traditional sort of business such as a garage sale.
People buy more when they feel comfortable and welcome. They spend more time at a garage sale when they feel like it is okay, if not fun, to do so. Sellers are inclined to conduct a garage sale if it is a pleasant money-making experience. That is the bottom line (no pun intended!).
The practical application of kindness at a yard sale is straightforward for sellers.
- Treat customers with respect. The people who are attending a sale are your guests, not enemy invaders. They should be welcomed and thanked for coming to the sale (and you can do so without impairing your security or personal welfare.)
- Do not judge, harass, belittle or disrespect any of the shoppers. Do not do so explicitly or implicitly. Refrain from commenting on anyone’s personal appearance. Do not treat people based on your perceptions of the shopper’s socioeconomic status, make-up or the like. A failure to price an item and deciding on a price only when someone asks often feels as if the seller is sizing up the buyer.
- Avoid posting uninviting signs (e.g., no refunds/exchanges, cash only, if you break it you bought it, all prices are firm, etc). Shoppers know the rules. They are not children who need schooling on the subject. If they violate these rules, quietly and nicely explain how you feel and ask for their cooperation in complying.
- Make it easy for a buyer to shop. Help with their packages and have a safe place for kids.
- When in doubt about how to act, remember the “golden rule.” Treat customers the way you would like to be treated. Ask yourself how you would feel if someone said “that” to you, or did “that” to you.
- Smile, make conversations and be friendly and hospitable.
The core values for a garage sale vendor apply interchangeably to a customer as well. (In the above list, you can substitute the references to buyers for sellers, and the references to or the word, customers, with sellers, as common sense dictates.) The following provides some practical uses of kindness for buyers at a garage sale as well.
- Treat sellers with respect. Do not “dismiss” or openly criticize the garage sale. Do not engage in banter or conversation about the value of the vendor’s items or their inclusion in a garage sale (even if you are right!). It is not the responsibility or place of the buyer to advise the sellers or educate them on selling wares (unless your opinion as a buyer is solicited.) Thank the seller for going to the time and effort to have the garage sale (because it does take a bit of effort to do it well!)
- Acknowledge what the seller is doing and why. The seller is trying to make some money on the “junk;” otherwise it would end up in a landfill or a charitable donation center or shop. Make sure that your effort to negotiate a good price for that stuff is not offensive. Asking for a volume discount is okay as long as it is not beyond common sense, reason or fair play.
The weather is cooling down and the garage sales are heating up as a result. Have fun treasure hunting and selling your treasures, trying to remain kind all the while. Let your Garage Sale Examiner know how the kind and gentle results!