Happy Friday! As the end of summer draws near, it is a great time to get rid of some of that stuff that has been taking up space in the basement (and magically growing!) by having a garage sale. (My wife has planned for this weekend.) After a garage sales way back in 1990, I started thinking, always a questionable activity for me, I put my thoughts into words and even managed to have it published in the local newspaper in Evansville where I worked at the time. I did manage to make the front page of the same paper doing a lizard impersonation but that is a story for another day. This week I have dusted off the garage sale piece just for you..
Along with the warm evenings, cookouts and baseball games, summer brings garage sale-ing.
The object of the garage sale is to try to get someone else to actually give you money for the junk that you are ready to throw away. You go through the boxes that have been collecting dust and feeding moths for the last five years and you display it in the garage, or on the porch, or in the yard in hopes that someone will happen by who actually wants it.
I have been to a few garage sales and I have actually found a few good deals, but recently we decided to have our own sale. Believe me, there is a big difference between going to a garage sale and holding your own.
The process of determining what treasures would actually be offered provided some interesting discussion between my wife, who does not find sentimental value of much use, hence was willing to sell our wedding album, and myself, a packrat who can find a reason for keeping my third grade spelling test. But, with give and take, we survived the process (I gave and she took it).
One of the essential ingredients for a successful garage sale is the classified ad. In the ad, you put all the vital information: any special items you have, your address and the times for the sale. It is important to put the time in so that people will know to come two hours early and get you out of bed to allow them to have first shot at the treasures you’re willing to part with. I’m concerned about people who have nothing better to do than go to garage sales at 5:30 in the morning.
Now you’re outside, half-awake, half-dressed and still waiting for your first cup of coffee. The fun begins! People you do not even know, total strangers seeking bargains from your outdoor bonanza, pull up, get out of the car and start rummaging through your personal belonging. I would have never thought that this could happen in America.
They look at your clothes, your furniture, your comic books you’ve taken care of for twenty years, and haggle over the price. It is like they are judging every detail of your life. The articles people purchase are interesting.
Generally you can sell anything that is broken: small appliances, toys, lawn mowers, you name it. But if it is in good condition, they will be skeptical. Clothes tend to do well. Someone will come who is three times your size, hold up your clothes to see if they fit and still buy them. People will pour over items searching diligently for any type of break or imperfection before they are willing to invest one dollar in a picture frame you paid $10 for, but never used. The sale can be a dangerous time for small children. Every time they venture out of the house, someone will grab a toy out of their little hand and offer you 50 cents.
And the day drags on. You fight off the hot sun; you fight off the bugs and at times you fight off your customers. You watch people trample your flowers and listen to them complain about your prices. You see them carry off a piece of your life.
When it is all over, you count up your money, subtract the price of the ad, divide by the number of hours worked, and you realize you made about 37 cents an hour for all the effort. Yet, you’re proud to be a part of the free enterprise system. The sale is over and a lot of your junk is gone, probably destined to show up at someone else’s garage sale in the future.
In a strange way, I even enjoyed it. I realized I can part with a few things and survive and just maybe some of that junk might actually do someone else some good. My wife even let me keep our wedding album, but I had to buy it at the garage sale.
THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK
“Ashes to ashes. Garage sale to garage sale.” ~ John Green