Dear Urban Diplomat: My neighbour holds a yard sale every weekend. Is there anything I can do?

Dear Urban Diplomat: My neighbour holds a yard sale every weekend. Is there anything I can do?

Urban Diplomat: Flea Bitten (Image: RussellReno)
 

Dear Urban Diplomat,
My neighbour holds a yard sale every weekend. She prices everything way too high and won’t negotiate, like when she wouldn’t accept my $25 offer for a beat-up bike helmet she’d priced at $40! Anyway, I’m tired of having a tacky flea market outside my house and want to say something, but I don’t want to make an enemy. What should I do?
—Flea-Bitten, Roncesvalles

Buying a used bike helmet is about as sensible as restuffing a deployed airbag, so consider her haggle-averse ways a blessing. The occasional yard sale can be a great way to meet the neighbours and judge them on their selection of cast-off paperbacks. When they blanket their lawn in crappy wares every weekend, however, you start to worry about property values. The city concurs—there’s a bylaw limiting such sales to two per year. As for how to broach the topic: wander over, pick up the dustiest, heirloomiest-looking piece you can find, emit a few ponderous “hmmms,” and ask about its backstory. Ideally, it’ll have belonged to a dearly departed great-aunt, and your neighbour will regale you with fond anecdotes. Charming and Sympathetic Neighbour status now established, you’re in a perfect position to mention those mean ol’ municipal standards officers who patrol the city in search of yard sale offenders. Lay on the concern thick enough that you’ll come across as an ally rather than a narc. With luck, she’ll clue in and desist. If not, at least she won’t be surprised when a bylaw officer pays a visit.

Send your questions to the Urban Diplomat at urbandiplomat@torontolife.com