Times are tough, really tough, so everything must go.
Bedroom sets, candles, trampolines. It's all yours, for the right price.
Leather recliners, salt and pepper shakers, curtains. C'mon, let's make a deal.
As the economy tanks and budgets tighten, cities across the country are reporting a rise in requests for garage-sale permits, and community garage sales are booming.
While the concept isn't new, the reason behind garage sales seems to be taking on increased urgency: People need the money to pay their bills.
They're still doing it the old-fashioned way, with weekend yard sales, but the Internet also is contributing heavily to the so-called garage-sale economy.
Take these pleas from North Texans on Craigslist:
"Foreclosure Sale ... Our home is soon to be foreclosed on and I need to do some serious downsizing!!!"
"My husband left some stuff behind when he left and I need money."
"I lost my job and am being evicted from my apartment."
Simply put, garage sales are an easy way to make money, said Alison Mahnich of Richardson, who considers herself somewhat of an expert.
She discusses her buying and selling adventures, among other things, on her blog, genuinenavybleu.com. Though she's not in financial straits, she doles out advice to those who are.
"I've had some friends in trouble, and they ask me what to do," Ms. Mahnich said. "Just dump some stuff in your yard and put up signs and part with stuff.
"If you're in economic turmoil, that's the greatest and fastest way to make money."
Not everyone is willing to talk about their need for fast cash.
Others talked, but they didn't want their names used, saying they were embarrassed about selling their belongings to pay the bills.
A Krum resident explained her dilemma in a Craigslist posting: Her Denton County house was being foreclosed on, and she needed money to cover moving expenses. She was selling a smorgasbord of possessions, including living room and bedroom sets.
She had been getting lowball offers at a garage sale, so she hoped her direct appeal would create more sympathy from buyers.
"They look at it as garage sale stuff and your junk that you're trying to get rid of," she said in a phone interview. "I needed them to see that this was good stuff that I needed to get rid of in order to pay bills."
She estimates she brought in about $1,500 from Craigslist sales in late September. But it hasn't been easy parting with her belongings.
It's a sign that the good life is slipping away and into the arms of strangers.
"I wouldn't call it my dream house, but it was pretty darn close," she said. "It's heart-wrenching to see people fall in love with whatever you fell in love with, but you need to get rid of to make it through the next month."
Another North Texas resident wants to sell a hunting cabinet so he can make repairs to his home before selling it. He hasn't been able to save enough cash.
"We had been saving to purchase a new home, but ... the economy is terrible right now and our buying power went down," he wrote in an e-mail.
"But the bills did not. So we have been unable to save any more money."
One Rowlett resident whose house is in foreclosure said she's selling belongings to "help us move on to the next chapter in our life."
"It's almost a relief to let things go, and [I] look forward to refining and simplifying our lives," she said. "I don't see this as a disaster – just the universe's way of telling me that it's time to stop trying to carry so much."
Selling personal belongings in this tough economy doesn't surprise Spencer James, co-author of a paper with Brigham Young University scholars called "Participation in the Thrift Economy."
"If you're losing your house, although they probably don't relish the idea of getting rid of other things ... they need something to live on," said Mr. James, a Pennsylvania State University graduate student.
His paper concludes that as the cost of living outpaces incomes, yard sales and thrift stores may play a more important role as families struggle to make ends meet.
In addition, more people are shopping at yard sales because "they need to find ways to stretch the family dollar," Mr. James said.
"People want to maintain their social standing but aren't able to do so," he said. "As a result, they're looking to see where they can cut corners."
The original article can be viewed here.