*NOTE: I originally posted this a couple years ago, but someone mentioned wanting to read it again in the Facebook Community so I am sharing it again.
Last weekend my husband and I were out driving around and decided to stop at a couple of yard sales for fun.
The second sale we stopped at I was actually excited to check out because there were so many other cars there I thought it must be a pretty great sale. As we walked up I saw what all the commotion was over. This person had set up a grocery store in her garage and the people there were doing their grocery shopping.
Now I should say a couple of things right up front before I get started on this post.
I am not trying to offend anyone who might have done this in the past or who might have bought things from a sale like this one. I do know that there are rules and regulations that real grocery stores have to follow that are in place to keep our food safe. When you shop from a “store” like this one it is impossible to know how the food was stored.
I have no problem with someone selling a “few” things they’ll no longer use in their garage sales. What I really have a problem with is someone fraudulently using coupons to get stuff free with the intent of reselling it in a garage sale for the sole purpose of profiting.
In fact, you could face real jail time for doing so in Michigan.
Did you know that many coupons state in the fine print that it is coupon fraud to use a coupon to buy something with the intent of reselling it?
The reason for this post is simply to inform you why I couldn’t just pretend like I didn’t see it that afternoon. You see I was so shocked that I had to pull out my phone and snap a couple of pictures for proof that I was really seeing what I had only heard rumors of up to this point. I came home and posted the picture on the Facebook page and innocently asked:
“Have you ever stopped at a garage sale like this one? I’ve heard rumors of them but never actually seen one in real life. I don’t mean to offend anyone but this really bothers me. Because she likely cleared shelves buying most of this stuff free after coupons taking away from others who would have actually used the items in the picture with the intent of reselling to make a profit.
When people do this they leave nothing behind for anyone else.”
I was surprised by the overwhelming response this got from many who seemed to understand my frustration with the situation. But there were a few who just couldn’t seem to understand why this would be wrong. What they saw was someone who was smart enough to bend the rules enough to make some extra money.
But at what price?
I am not saying that there can’t be situations when this is acceptable and some of you posted the hypothetical situations that could cause a person to sell their stockpile in this way. I’m not sure I would have been so shocked had it not looked like a well-oiled machine. What I saw while I was there was a very well organized grocery store complete with racks, shelves, and grocery bags.
I wrote a post during the season of Extreme Couponing about how to maintain Extreme Couponing Integrity that I think is relevant for anyone who wants to know my stance on things.
I definitely think it is worth reading the entire original post (which you can find here), but I specifically wanted to shine a light on the third point today.
Only buy what you will use! I know it can be so tempting to continue to buy when you aren’t paying for the item. But it is wasteful to buy what you can or will not use in a reasonable amount of time. If you just must get another tube of free toothpaste, why not consider donating some of what you have to shelters, churches, or abused women’s centers?
If you follow this point in Extreme Couponing Integrity then you really won’t find yourself in a position to sell off 50 boxes of cereal.