2008 (June 21)
Brooklyn — The 8th Annual sale featured old-timers such as our hosts wjcohen & Alison (and daughters Lila & Ruby); about-ready-to-pop Kristen, her beau Kevin, and Kristen’s daughter Bella; and yours truly & Sari. And it was Phoebe’s first sale (though she seemed a bit subdued by the heat & humidity). We also were joined by Tim & Susan and their daughter Lily; and by a few boutique items from red_letter_days, though sadly not by her actual presence. Rob & Joy (and their new son Chance) are spending the summer in St. Louis, so they couldn’t join us; and Mark & Betsy are now officially retired from stooping, though Mark came by in his capacity as Stooper Emeritus to make sure things were running along smoothly.
The crowds were solid if not spectacular, with a steady stream of customers. I did well with my mix of old audio tapes (!), CDs, DVDs, comics & graphic novels, books, computer cables, and Sari’s clothes, pulling in a whopping $146, my best haul ever!
Word of the day: arbitrage. According to wjcohen, this is the practice of making more off your sale than what you originally paid. Though not true for the majority of my stuff, I do confess that I made a few bucks here and there from things I’ve “acquired” from my building’s basement. It shocks me the completely servicible things people throw away! To think I’ve been practicing stoop sale arbitrage all these years and didn’t even know it…
Yes, folks, it’s that time again: the 8th Annual Multi-Family Multi-Generational Stoop Sale! You’ve seen the rest, now it’s time for the BEST:
Saturday, June 21st, 10am – 3pm*
241 Carroll Street (right across from Carroll Park, between Court & Smith)
Housewares & Furniture | Bar Stool & Table | Bike & Child Seat | Glass Vase | TV & VCR | CDs & Audio Tapes | DVDs & Video Tapes | Books, Comics & Graphic Novels | Computer Peripherals | Men’s & Women’s Clothes | Baby Clothes & Supplies | Games & Toys | Picture Frames | Meditation Accessories | Tchotchkes | Home-made cookies, fudge, brownies & lemonade!
I’m selling tons of comics for 25 cents each (5 for $1) as well as a slew of graphic novels and trade paperbacks
Last time at this location!
*Early-birds pay double!
Brooklynites author and freelance photographer Seth Kushner shot my portrait today, for his new project on New York City cartoonists. (man_size , purvision, dangoldman , zegas, bertozzi , and heartshapedkey are some of the previous subjects of Kushner’s lens.) Kudos to purvision for suggesting Seth shoot me in the context of a stoop sale (which—in honor of A.D.—I gave a strong New Orleans flavor). I don’t normally photograph well, but I love the way this image came out. I really dig Seth’s dramatic lighting and desaturated colors; believe it or not, this image was shot on a lovely sunny spring day. Anyway, click on the photo if you’d like to see a larger version. And thanks again, Seth!
2007 (June 16)
The months leading up to sale were dominated by long-time stooper Stinky’s will-he, won’t-he retirement talk. But like Jordan and Clemens before him, Stinky left that small percentage of a chance open that he might reconsider. And coming down to the wire, prospects looked good for Stink’s return to business. But then, tragically, a death in the family took he & Betsy away for the weekend and absent from the sale. Also missed this year were stoop regulars Sari, Rebecca, and Kristen, but we were lucky to add lovely red_letter_days to the mix.
2006 (June 17)
Brooklyn — As in past years, the 6th Annual sale features our hosts wjcohen & Alison, their cutey-pie daughters Lila & Ruby; as well as lovebirds Stinky & Betsy; newlyweds Joy & Rob; newcomers Kristen and Kevin; and of course Sari & yours truly. Though we all miss Stooper Supreme Rebecca (away in L.A. for the weekend), we trust she’ll join us next year at the new Carroll Park location (where wjcohen and his brood are relocating).
Overall, the sale is a resounding success, with everyone relieved to be rid of their unwanted junk and equally happy to have a couple more dollars in their pockets. I’m particularly pleased to unload a good chunk of my 1980s/90s superhero comics dreck. For 25 cents a book, or 5 for a $1, who can complain? I even sell 25 comics at one shot for a movie’s set dressing! My only true disappointment is not selling my old color TV, which I had held on to from last year’s sale. Pathetic as it sounds, I actually had an emotional attachment to that TV, as it was one of my first “grown-up” items, purchased shortly after I moved into my first post-college apartment. Sure, it’s almost 20 years old, but it still works fine, has all its parts, and I wanted to see it passed on to a worthy viewer. But, alas, it is not to be, and now the TV sits in the Atlantic Avenue Salvation Army Thrift Store…
Some sellers, however, do better than others: Proving the power of “perceived value,” Joy and Kristen price their clothes and sundries in the $5-10 range (instead of the typical $2-4) — and end up as the day’s biggest profiteers. (It may also have something to do with the quality of their merchandise, but I wouldn’t know…)
Yes, folks, you’ve read about previous years, and now it’s that time again: the 6th Annual Multi-Family Multi-Generational Stoop Sale! You’ve seen the rest, now it’s time for the best:
Saturday, June 17th, 10am – 3pm
165 Baltic Street (corner of Baltic & Henry)
Housewares | Kitchen Supplies | Records, Tapes, & CDs | DVDs & Video Tapes | Books, Comics & Graphic Novels | Posters & Artwork | Men’s & Women’s Clothes | Baby Clothes | Baby Supplies | Baby Toys | Color T.V. | Sporting Equipment | Couch Pillows | Cookies & Lemonade
Last time at this location! Early-birds pay double!
Being the third and final installment of my history of stoop/yard/garage/street/sidewalk sales, with photos, illustrations, near-disasters, psycho killers, and more.
2001 (June 9)
Brooklyn — Not even officially resettled in New York, I’m nonetheless ready to sell my junk! Fortunately, wjcohen (also relocated to Brooklyn) has just as much Jewish merchant blood as me and he’s more than willing to host the sale, which becomes our first official annual stoop sale (seeing as he’s got a stoop!). With significant others Sari and Alison (and 9-month-old baby Lila) joining the cause, we pull off a good one.
THE ROARING 90s
I’m what you’d call a dedicated stoop-seller. For the last five years I’ve had an annual sale here in Brooklyn (at my friend’s place in Cobble Hill to be exact), and I’ve had sales at many other places over the years. In fact, I may hold some kind of stoop/garage/yard/sidewalk/street sale-location record, with (in reverse order) San Francisco, Chicago, Manhattan, and San Diego also on my list.
It must be in my blood: my great-grandparents included a Turkish rug merchant and the proprietor of a Lower East Side corner store. In addition, my mother, who’s an artist, has integrated a huge traveling garage sale into her installations for more than thirty years. But whereas my mom uses the form of the garage sale to comment on the nature of art and commodification, I just love sellin’ stuff.
Believe it or not, though, it’s not the profit motive that compels me. What really jazzes me about a sale is the idea that somebody wants something — a shirt, a picture frame, an old magazine — that I no longer need. And when their eye lights on that thing and we exchange some token amount of money, we both walk away from the transaction feeling like winners. I guess this confirms something about the world, about perception and point-of-view. Eye of the beholder and all that. And I gotta admit, it doesn’t hurt to get rid of a lot of junk and have some extra change jangling around in my pocket!
(Which is also why I’m an inveterate online auctioneer. I made my first eBay sale back in 1998 and I’ve been a regular there ever since. I go through periods of obsessive selling, but I’ve pulled back a bit and only put things up when I’ve got the time, which lately isn’t very often.)
But stoop sales are what I really look forward to, the opportunity to meet your customer and make that exchange face-to-face. Being a self-employed stay-at-home type, the stoop sale is my once-a-year chance to rub shoulders with — and sell stuff to — New York’s melting pot. Even in the white yuppie stronghold of Cobble Hill, our patrons include veiled Muslim women, Latino immigrants, Caribbean truck drivers, Chinese vagrants, European tourists, and the usual allotment of grungy hipsters.
An added bonus of a good sale is the chance it offers to spend time with your friends. Recently, we’ve been doing group sales, with five, six, or more buddies, and what other opportunities are there nowadays to hang with folks for six hours? The social sphere of a sale is filled with chances to chat one-on-one, join together in a good pitch, swap clothes & junk, and dandle each other’s pets and babies. And when the day is done, the stoop is clear again, and the leftover stuff has been sent to Goodwill, there’s noting better than spending your earnings on good food and drink with the sales gang.
Being a merchant at heart, I’m not much of a stoop sale customer. Unlike Sari, who will cross the street to check out a sale, I pass ‘em by without a second look — unless a vintage comic or cheap DVD catches my eye. Otherwise, I’m strictly a seller. Which is not to say that I haven’t “stooped” to accumulating inventory purely for the purpose of re-selling it. Being an artist, I’m not averse to “finding” stuff on the street (or in a garbage can or dumpster), not to mention the odd incredible deal at a thrift or antique store. But I know this is an unhealthy practice, and I try not to let it control me. Mostly my inventory is actual my stuff that for one reason or another has become obsolete or unnecessary. And of course all those useless holiday gifts that are un-returnable or not even worth re-gifting!
So, in honor of the form, here’s a blow-by-blow list of sales I’ve taken part in, from way back in the 70s, to the hair-raising East Village of the 80s, to sprawling sales in Chicago’s Wicker Park in the 90s, all the way to this decade in (to quote fellow stooper WJC) “The Lyn of Brook”…