A sign offering different payment methods and disinfecting options for customers stands next to the entrance of the Carter family’s garage sale on Sunday in Bothell. Yard sales and garage sales were one of the things allowed again in Gov. Jay Inslee’s Phase 2 reopening plan. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

A sign offering different payment methods and disinfecting options for customers stands next to the entrance of the Carter family’s garage sale on Sunday in Bothell. Yard sales and garage sales were one of the things allowed again in Gov. Jay Inslee’s Phase 2 reopening plan. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Will Phase 2 start a pandemic of yard sales?

The state classifies them as gatherings and says no more than five people can attend — per week.

EVERETT — You’ve had all this time to de-clutter your crib.

So now’s the time for a mega yard sale, right?

Not so fast, there’s a catch. The governor says a limit of five customers can attend a yard sale. Five per week, that is.

What’s up with that?

Yard sales are among the small joys of life returning in Phase 2, which Snohomish County entered a week ago.

But only five people can haggle over that ceramic Miss Piggy coin bank or those skinny jeans you’ve outgrown during quarantine.

Yard sales are not specifically mentioned in Washington’s reopen plan.

“Yard sales, because they are not licensed businesses, would fall under the category of gatherings,” Mike Faulk, a spokesman for Gov. Jay Inslee, said in an email.

“That would mean people hosting yard sales would need to limit them to the number of people allowed in a gathering according to each phase.”

In Phase 2, that means up to five people.

“We ask people to stick with the same five individuals in a given week,” Faulk said.

A yard sale where only five people showed up would have been a bummer in the days before COVID-19. So now you just have to count on your yard sale party-of-five to be big spenders who share your good or bad taste?

No way.

Odds are nobody is going to snitch on you if more than five people show up.

“Enforcement is at the discretion of local law enforcement,” Faulk said.

A yard sale table in Mukilteo. (Andrea Brown / The Herald)

A yard sale table in Mukilteo. (Andrea Brown / The Herald)

That renegade barber in Snohomish with an expired shop license has cut hair for over a month despite a cease-and-desist order, warnings he could face criminal charges and a lawsuit from the Attorney General’s office. Dozens line up daily outside his shop without masks or social distancing.

You really think officials are going to care about your nickel-and-dime yard sale?

In New York, the governor’s office considers yard sales non-essential services and are not permitted. Vermont allows up to 25 people at a sale. In Ohio, the merchandise must be cleaned or wiped down with a disinfectant, hand sanitizer has to be available, tables and chairs set six feet apart and heavy-duty tape used to form a flow for customers to follow throughout the sale. Plastic sneeze shields are not required.

Based on local social media posts, some are setting up an honor system for payment and doing no-contact sales. Many ask that people use social distancing or wear masks.

A Craigslist ad for a weekend Bothell sale had photos, along with enticing descriptions beyond the usual Lysol-cleaned toys, tools and housewares: “Beer things. Camping things. New things. Old things. Red things. Blue things,” it read.

The seller accepted payment by Venmo, PayPal, Zelle, Apple Pay. And cash.

Some rummage might fetch a higher price this summer. Pandemic mandated isolation has increased the value of exercise equipment, bikes, board games and puzzles that used to go for cheap.

In Washington’s Phase 3, the number of people at a gathering jumps to 50 people. The county must stay in each phase a minimum of three weeks, so it could be July before that happens.

Summer is usually the busy season for scouring yards. Sales typically begin in late April, around the time of the Great Mukilteo Garage Sale. The 32-year yard-hopping shopping bonanza tradition was canceled this year, as was Mill Creek’s biannual citywide sale in May.

Everett’s Northwest Neighborhood Association’s Mother of All Garage Sales, usually held on the first Saturday in August, is TBD.

Spokeswoman Kari Quaas said: “We have not officially canceled it. Realistically, we are putting no efforts into a big production as we have in the past — no portable toilets and food trucks at the park, maps, etc. I think that what could happen is that it will be an individual homeowner’s decision to participate. As the world re-opens, I may just say, ‘Northwest has sales today. Come on by.’ Our date would remain the same … that first Saturday in August. But, as for now, like the rest of the world, we wait.”

So, too, does our junk.

Andrea Brown: abrown@heraldnet.com; 425-339-3443. Twitter @reporterbrown.

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