Germantown: Unemployment Causes Married Couple to Help Both Themselves and their Community

Passersby and a customer wait next to the yard sale for the L bus.

On an unseasonably hot spring morning just before the clock strikes noon and temperatures already scorching 96 degrees many people are avoiding the outdoors. But for sidewalk entrepreneurs Marie and Greg Ford, enduring the sweltering heat is a part of their daily regimen.

For the past year almost every day this couple has held a yard sale outside their home on the corner of Anderson and Wister streets in East Germantown. Passersby can find an assortment of used goods including furniture, bikes, appliances, artwork and air hockey tables.

Items for sale line the sidewalk near a stop for SEPTA's L bus route.

“They get not only a good deal, but quality stuff,” Marie Ford said. “We have all sorts of brand names.”

The Ford’s find these items at thrift stores and flea markets. Occasionally, they travel as far as 40 miles to search for items they can resell.

The Ford’s offer their selection to anyone who stops by. Items such as gold light fixtures and glossy paintings reflect bright, hot sunlight from atop the couple’s porch.

Bicycles range in price from $5-$25 while air conditioners have sold for as low as $15. The Ford’s have even sold items for as little as 25 cents. They know they need to make a profit on their sales but they want to ensure that their customers are getting a bargain as well.

“People around here don’t have much,” Greg Ford said. “We can’t sell expensive stuff. We do this just to help the community.”

Outside the Fords' home, several bikes are lined up for sale.

Both Marie and Greg Ford are unemployed. Their yard sale has become their full-time job though not for lack of trying to find other work. They have driven to job fairs as far away from Philadelphia as King of Prussia. Also, they continue to find ways to apply online despite not having a computer in their home.

Though the Ford’s enjoy the fact that they’re helping their neighborhood they quickly said they would be better off with employment providing a steady income and health insurance. Once they do find jobs they will no longer be able to hold their yard sale daily. However, this couple intends on continuing their small sidewalk sales business.“This is our Saturday plan,” Marie Ford said. “Once we find jobs we will do this on weekends only.”

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