Creativity Has a Tag Sale – #1LinerWeds

Last week, I mentioned that a curious question asked of Mary Chapin Carpenter was something I could relate to. No, I’ve never performed on stage, but…

Forty years ago, we purchased some custom furniture from a small shop in upstate New York. A year later, we moved that furniture to Seattle, Washington and we continued moving it from apartment to apartment three times in three years. When we decided to move back east, we didn’t want to pay to move that furniture again. We decided to have a tag-sale. I was put in charge.

I took out an ad in the Seattle Times listing a few specific items (a drafting table and stool, bookcases, etc.) and “custom furniture” for sale at rock-bottom prices.

The first few customers were wonderful. They almost allayed my fears of having a tag-sale – dealing with the public, negotiating and stuff like that. The drafting table and stool were scarfed-up immediately for the asking price. I had bought them for cheap, so I was ahead of the game. Next were two sets of bookshelves that I had made. The woman thought they were unique, interesting and well-made. I was very happy.

Then they arrived.

A mother and her adult daughter.

The adult daughter was interested in the coffee table and the end tables. The end tables were octagonal, with four open sides and the coffee table was a rectangle with rounded corners supported by two octagonal pedestals on a short base.

The mother insisted that the daughter didn’t have room for both end tables and offered to buy the coffee table and one end table. I refused. My goal was to get rid of everything, and I thought my best chance was to sell those as a set. Thus, began the following negotiation session, primarily with the mother:

“How much for the coffee table and one end table?”

“The three pieces are a set. I’m asking $150.”

“How about $75 for the coffee table and one end table?”

“No. $150 for the set. I’ll throw in the lamps if you want them.”

“The lamps are hideous.”

“Mom, I really like the tables and I like the lamps. $150 is a good price for custom-made furniture. The tables are custom-made, aren’t they?”

“Yes, all the pine furniture was custom-made in upstate New York.”

“Well, you can tell somebody MADE this stuff.”

“Look lady, God didn’t come back on the eighth day to create furniture. Somebody made everything.”

“We’ll give you $100 for the coffee table, one end table and one lamp.”

“Get out!”


“The sale is over. None of this is for sale, just get out.”

I walked over to one of our neighbors. Their house was identical to ours. The man had previewed the sale, but said he just couldn’t afford anything. I offered to give him the furniture if he would help me move it out, and if he would take the couch and chair.

He happily agreed. We moved the furniture to his house, he bought me lunch and I’ve never had a tag sale since.

This post is part of Linda G.Hill’s fun weekly challenge One-Liner Wednesday. I know, it was way more than one line, but at least I split the story into two parts. Follow this link to see one-liners from all the participants.

The gallery includes some of my woodworking projects. You may see these again in a post about how they were made, so consider this a preview.


    • Ha ha – Faith has been trying to talk us into having a tag sale, but we’re not budging. It was the worst. I plan on keeping the mule chest, but I’ll keep your offer in mind.


  1. I love your coffee table. I have had several ‘out of the garage sales’ and while hubby loves the thrill of a sale and is so good at it, I loathe it. I can give people what they need, as in when I used to sell glasses, but I hate haggling. People can be ridiculous. We always put rock bottom prices and still they will try to jack you down. Too funny. “Somebody made everything”. And so true!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I was so mad at her for insinuating that hand-crafted was somehow less good than factory-made, when it’s totally the other way ’round. I don’t haggle well at all. If I see something at a tag sale that I want, I just pay the asking price. If it’s too high, I walk away.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Wood has a life of it’s own and I will never have a home of the ‘chrome n/ glass’ variety!! I’ve been glad to see a lot of TV shows indicate that re-purposing wood is “in”. I love to see work like yours, especially that coffee table!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I HATE YARD SALES!!! We held one when we sold our home. NEVER AGAIN. Everything was washed, polished, gleaming and presented at its best. I priced everything ridiculously low because I wanted it gone. People still tried to manipulate even better bargains. I don’t do haggling!!

    You have an amazing talent working with wood Dan. Those pieces are just remarkable. But the way you can look at a piece of lumber or a chunk of firewood and envision something, and then bring it to fruition, well that’s a special gift.

    Glad to see MiMi on the job checking for flaws!

    Happy Valentine’s Day to you and the Editor and all your girls, two-legged and four-legged!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Ginger, for the commiseration and the very kind words about my woodworking.

      I doubt we will ever have a tag sale. My daughter thinks we should but I’d rather give stuff to the Salvation Army or Goodwill.

      MiMi always likes to inspect my work and she claims every horizontal surface as her own.


  4. I’ve had garage sales, but then I came to my senses. Too many humans to deal with who are trying to get you to give them something that they know is worth five times what you are asking. Bad for my blood pressure. :-) You do lovely work, and it always makes me bow to your carpentry skills. I’m with the others – you ever have a tag sale, please let me know. :-)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Judy. If that coffee table is any indication, I’d say a tag sale is unlikely. Several of my coworkers were surprised when I gave it away. Some said “I would have paid you for that…” Of course, it’s very hard to even recover your costs, let alone have a happy customer (I know, I did own a cabinet shop). On the other hand, the guy I gave it to is very happy.

      I remember negotiating prices when I had my cabinet shop. That was bad for my blood pressure and my checkbook.


  5. Oh, the dreaded yard sale. I love your response to her–just get outta here! Good one, Dan. Gosh, your woodworking is beautiful. I’m a good refinisher, but that is where the skill set starts and ends. I do love the little playhouse you built for MiMi. She is so cute!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha ha – the little playhouse, indeed. Actually, Lois, refinishing is a task I avoid at all costs. My idea of refinishing is taking a waterbed, ripping it into lumber and building a book case. Which, of course, MiMi had to inspect and approve.

      The lady was very angry. She quoted the law to me, saying I could not discriminate against her, and if I sold that stuff to someone else for less than she offered, I could get into trouble.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Deborah. The Mule Chest is my dresser and I really like it. The candy dish holds half of a one pound bag of Hersey’s Milk Chocolate with Almonds Nuggets.

      There is nothing like sliding that plane along the edge and seeing/hearing those shavings form. It’s my favorite process.

      I don’ think I’ll ever have a tag sale again.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. There are people who think they can haggle with you and get a better price and to break up sets like this. You were right to show them the door, because if you accepted one price, they’d have tried to haggle you down even more. They think a yard sale is someone so desperate to get some worthless crap out of their house that they’ll accept anything.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re right, John. It’s like a challenge for them. I know people who routinely shop at tag sales and that’s how they describe it. I have no interest. If I see something at a tag sale, I either buy it for the asking price, or I move on.


  7. I had been on the fence about having a yard/tag sale someday…but I think after reading this I’ve relocated to favoring donations and giveaways.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi Dan – your projects look amazing … I’d never heard of a mule chest before … but I’d definitely have some of your pieces – they look so well made. Well I’m glad you didn’t succumb to the dreaded mother – bet they’ve had ‘words’ about that encounter ever since – cheers Hilary

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Hilary. I had never heard of a Mule Chest either. I was trying to use the lumber I had, and I had enough thin stock to make three doors. When I saw a chest like this in a book on making Mission Furniture, I knew I had my idea.

      That mother was never going to be happy with me. I knew it. It was worth the money I lost to be able to throw her out. The guy that took the furniture had been a very nice neighbor, so I was happy to give the stuff to him.


  9. I’m afraid my reaction would have been the same as yours. I would rather give something away than sell it to someone who is a jerk. I feel sorry for the daughter.

    You do lovely work though. I’ve said it before – I’m in awe of people who can look at a piece of wood and see something in it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Nick. I was trying for Green and Green. They are know for a Mission look but with through-mortises. But they have some other elements I couldn’t work in. Those are harder than they look. I hope to feature that desk in a post.


  10. I love this! The candy dish is really there, and your Queen Anne table looks terrific. Not sure about the pulls to match the age, hard to tell from the photo. Yes, your favorite tool… I have followed hubby in more flea markets and antique stores looking at planes than you can imagine. Our son took them (thank goodness) and has put them to good use. Great post, Dan.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Jennie. You have a good eye. The drawer pulls were a challenge. They were marketed as period brass pulls, but they were the only ones small enough to fit. The outer drawers are only about 2″ wide. I had to make special jigs to work with the drawer fronts. That table’s story is one I hope to tell as a D-I-Y special.

      My daughter and I look at old planes at every woodworking show we go to. I’ve never bought one, because they sell for the price of new ones, and several manufacturers still make very good planes.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I get it. That had to be hard to find and also mount the pulls. Please, tell this as a DIY special. I still enjoy looking at old tools. Planes are particularly beautiful. Our son is quite the woodworker, and has both new and old. He has reasons for each. Lie Nielsen is his love and dream for the new. Thanks, Dan.

        Liked by 1 person

  11. HAHAHA!
    And also, WOW! You do beautiful work! It’s all impressive, Dan. All of it — I’m amazed at your skill. I’m very fond of the bookcase a la MiMi! :)
    I had the same scenario with the coffee table and two end tables. It’s a set. Set. Set. Set. And it sold as a set even though people tried to piece me all day. I’m not done with sales, but I’m done doin em alone.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad you had the strength to hang in there. I mean what are you going to do with one end table? Maybe when it’s time for the sale, I’ll put everything and Faith in a truck and drive her to your place. You two can have a sale. I’ll buy the Mister a beer.

      That bookcase was one of my favorite projects. It was designed around the wood that I had and the space it had to fit.

      Liked by 1 person

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