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Rules of Engagement For a Park Slope Stoop Sale

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Spring is officially here, which means that you have two spring cleaning options:  

1. Get a Zip car, go to IKEA, buy a bunch of "storage solutions" and crap up your apartment with Grundtal shelves and Samla boxes.


2. Have a stoop sale.  

Between those options, the latter choice is clearly the one that proves to all your friends and family that you are not, in fact, a "hoarder."  If you're taking the first option, well, congratulations!  You've now cleared room for even more craptastic stuff!  Why not go to a stoop sale to see what you can get?  Either way, navigating your way through the perils of hosting and/or visiting a stoop sale can be extremely challenging.  Fortunately for you, we're here to help with these handy rules of engagement for stoop sales.

First, for sellers: 

Before you put that first item onto the stoop, think about your objective.

Are you trying to get rid of crap, or are you trying to make money?  If you just want to get rid of stuff, don't put prices on anything.  Take whatever money they offer you, and be glad that someone's buying that non-stick skillet that was ruined when you put it in the dishwasher.  If you're trying to make money, put prices on everything, and say "No" to every offer.  Bundle things to make a sale, but only as a last resort, and practice saying, "Oh, I could never part with this for less than (quote outrageous price).  Choose a methodology and stick to it.

No one wants to buy your books.

Photo via www.codingtopher.blogspot.comThat's why you're going to be leaving them out -- free for the taking -- in front of your house long after the last prospective customer leaves the stoop sale.  You're thinking that those books are still in good condition, and that someone must want to read them, but you, my dear, deluded FiPS reader, are very wrong.  The only people who even look at old books at a stoop sale are the ones who stand around for way too long and start up awkward conversations with strangers about random, disconnected ideas that just occurred to them while they were standing there.  You know, the type of person who probably has an undiagnosed psychosocial disorder?  As unfortunate as their condition might be, and as much as you might feel sorry for them, they're going to creep out the other prospective customers, and you're going to have trouble selling those big-ticket items if you've got a creepy, weird guy standing by your books asking you if you've ever been to a cat show, because he never has.

If you have kids, hire a sitter.  

You might think that it's a great idea to let your toddler "help" with the stoop sale, but the minute you're distracted, they're going to be wandering into the street, and then people will steal all the stuff you were trying to sell while you're dealing with the paramedics.  The one exception to this rule is if you've got kids who are adorable and are old enough to sell lemonade, iced tea or Kool-aid.  That's a great way to teach them how to be polite to grown-ups, and I promise you, that lemonade stand will make way more money than your stoop sale will.  If you don't care about getting arrested, think about having your child sell mojitos or skinny margaritas. Then your family will make even MORE money, because people in the Slope love that kind of ironic shit.

And now, for customers:

Do not show up an hour before the stoop sale begins in an attempt to get the "good stuff." 

This means YOU, Russian immigrants who live along Ocean Parkway.  The sellers don't have time to put their stuff out and get it organized WHILE talking to you about the other stuff that they're going to be hauling out next.  If you're worried about missing out on that prize find, here's a little secret, ppl:  THERE ARE NO PRIZE FINDS AT STOOP SALES.  So just let people get their shit organized. You'll be able to badger them relentlessly as soon as the sale officially starts.

Don't buy clothes.

Photo via

People who will wear something they bought off of the street, knowing that someone else has already worn i on their body, are creepy and weird and gross.  There's a huge difference between buying second hand clothes at a vintage store and buying clothes at a stoop sale.  Beacon's Closet won't just re-sell anything that someone brings to them.  Even Goodwill has standards, fer cryin' upstairs.  People sell clothes at stoop sales because they know that they can't get real coin for it at a vintage store, and a charity-run thrift store won't take it off of their hands for a tax deduction.  Stoop sale clothes are nasty, so unless it's a life-long dream of yours to get body lice, you should not be buying clothes at a stoop sale.

If you don't see it, they're not selling it.

The last time I had a stoop sale, someone showed up and asked if I was selling hunting knives.  No.  I did not have hunting knives.  "Do you see any hunting knives?" I asked.  There were no knives at my sale.  He could have looked around to see that I had an old 27" standard-definition tube television set that still worked.  He may have noticed the boxes filled with CDs and DVDs.  But instead, he decided to ask me, repeatedly, about hunting knives.  Buddy, telling me that you're only interested in buying hunting knives over and over again is not going make a hunting knife magically appear for you to buy.  It, will, however, make me think about calling the cops.

And one last tip for all of you -- both sellers and buyers -- first and foremost, have fun!  This whole thing isn't going to be worth it in the long run, not by a long shot.  You're wasting a perfectly good Saturday on a futile endeavor, so you might as well have a sense of proportion about it.  Think of it as an opportunity to sit outside and get some fresh air because, really, that's all it is.

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