Saturday was my first yard sale day of the season, and there were tons on Cape Cod -- no surprise for Memorial Day weekend. But I've been a dedicated yard seller for at least the past 15 years, and had an interaction today that I've never had before.
I found a pair of prints that I liked, one priced at $2 and the other $1. I offered $2 for the pair -- I almost always try to haggle a little bit -- and the guy looked at me and said "Trust me dude, I need the dollar a lot more than you do."
I gave him the three dollars and headed back to the car content, but a little bit freaked out: Who needs a dollar that badly?
Given that this is the first yard sale season of the worst recession we've had in a long time, I think that we may see an uptick in the number of "distress yard sales" -- people selling their castoffs to try to hold on to a house, keep the kids in college, or even put food on the table. Even though most of us yard sellers are bargain hunters by nature, I think that we have a special obligation this year to be fair in our dealings with people who seem like they need the money.
On the other hand, the rising number of distressed sellers -- especially in hard hit markets -- might make yard selling a little bit less enjoyable, imbuing it with a darkness that it didn't used to have. On the other hand, there may be bargains galore this summer as sellers part with things that were previously sacred.
Are yard sale holders getting more desperate?