23 July 2021

If you don't know how to behave at clearing sales, clear orf

| Sally Hopman
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Sun rises over country property.

Follow the morning sun – and leave about that early – to get to the best clearing sale even if it’s not until the next day, because there certainly won’t be a map. Photo: Sally Hopman.

There’s an art to clearing sales. Not the sort of paintings you pick up for no money at the end of the day – you know the garish ones with scary clowns or demonic kittens in them. But something with real skill behind it. If you don’t look, speak or wear the part, you probably should, well, clear orf.

So what is a clearing sale? Almost always, it’s held on a day bucketing with rain, on a property where they grow mud – the property, being on a map never plotted and run by people who can speak so quickly there should be an Olympic category for it.

It is a day where you voluntarily drive for forever to buy someone else’s crap.


Want to get people to clearing sales? Mention the finely-boned words “Clarice Cliff ceramics”. Photo: Sally Hopman.

It always starts off well. The ad in the local paper/community noticeboard/telegraph pole uses words like “Kauri pine”, “Clarice Cliff”, “authentic” or “baked goods” to get you in.

But then you face your first real dilemma – what to wear? Here’s a handy hint, on your upper level, chambray yourself to within an inch of your life. Some brazen-ettes wear pink shirts but it’s best to leave them to the real blokes.

Down below? RMs of course, only if they’re scuffed – but not enough to hide the label. In between, you can go with Mr Williams again, but only in jean or moleskins – again ensuring the label is showing or else what’s the point?

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Handy Hint II. (This one’s probably better suited to women). The more you look like Pru or Trude from Kath and Kim, the better. It also helps if you “work” like them, in the nearest town’s home decor shop – where you can buy things you also don’t need for lots of money. For example, silver mesh balls in baskets – no, I don’t know why.

Oh yes, puffer jackets. You can never have or wear too many – mainly because as only one will already make you look like the Michelin Woman, doesn’t matter how many more you wear underneath.

Your kids should be dressed exactly like Mum and Dad, preferably in smaller sizes.

Big rusty thing

Something big, rusty and ideally unidentifiable is always a star attraction at clearing sales. Photo: Kim Treasure.

Patience is also a virtue at clearing sales. They’ll sell off a few good things at first. Big, rusty things that were once quite useful. Other smaller machinery that you will discover, will be missing a rather crucial piece. Fine crockery. Well, the top, unwrapped pieces are fine. The still-wrapped ones underneath in the box, not so much. (Avoid new boxes – they’ll have untouched fondue sets/rice cookers/sets of Irish coffee mugs in them).

The boxes you should go for usually come up at the end of the day. Sure, they may look like rubbish, stuff piled on top of other stuff but always with something nice on top that encourages you to delve a little deeper. (But not too deep because you’ll hit crap again.)

These boxes contain stuff that doesn’t warrant being sold on its lonesome. They need something else to make their life worthwhile – or at least worthy.

You know the sort of thing – an old book that looks valuable – mainly because it’s so old – coupled with slightly less old books then lots of newspaper to pad it out. Just about everything is chucked into these boxes – except really valuable stuff. Although one clearing sale we really scored – we bought the last box of the day for $5, reduced from $6,

If you do decide to bid on something you won’t want, turn up your volume to Jimmy Barnes level.

If the auctioneer/hammer-whacker/bossiest on site can’t hear your bid, you won’t get whatever it was you thought you wanted.

Alternatively, if you yell out bids too often, you may be saddled with something you will never want in your lifetime – and a problem – like where to put a really old saddle in your tiny furnished apartment.

There’s something about a clearing sale that makes you hungry – so hungry that you’ll eat just about anything.

Soggy sandwiches, burnt snags, something sliced on a plate to go with the tepid tea will be on the menu for a “real” clearing sale.

They should all be provided by a charitable organisation, usually run by women but sometimes by a bloke wearing a silly apron.

If hot dogs, vegan anything or a barista who looks like they know what they’re doing are in close proximity, you are not at a real clearing sale. You’re lost.

Are you sold?

Original Article published by Sally Hopman on The RiotACT.

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