The agony and ecstasy of holding a garage sale

You couldn’t actually call it a garage sale since I have no garage. I guess you could call it a drive-way sale and I’m still in recovery. I feel like the victim of a hit and run.

It all began two weeks ago when I was watching one of the morning TV shows. A professional organizer was yaking about how most American’s use their homes as very expensive storage units. He noted that we accumulate “things” compulsively, then once they lose their luster, or our tastes change, we box them up for our children – who will never live long enough for the cast-offs to come back in style – and don’t want them anyway.

We stuff the castoffs into attics or closets intended for towels and Christmas decorations until those are full, then we begin to stash them under beds. Before we know what is happening, we can’t use the guest bedroom because it’s full of bad decisions and useless rummage. We are squeezed into a small corner of living space and become choked by the growing mountain of stuff.

His advice was to immediately clear out the clutter and either donate it to charity or hold a garage sale so we can reclaim our living spaces. Unfortunately I was leaning toward the “sale” idea. When I casually mentioned it to my friend, Brenda, she jumped on the idea with both feet. She is downsizing and remodeling a vintage home across the street from me and it is imperative that she part company with about one-half of her possessions.

I’d already downsized and remodeled, then proceeded to restock my home with things I’m beginning to detest. I can’t move without knocking something over. Did I really need that dancing rabbit, the casserole dish with the cobra handle, or the two quart martini glass? So the decision was made; we would go together and sell our “stuff,” make hundreds of dollars, and open up spaces in our homes to allow us to breathe again. It would be a spiritual experience.

I placed an ad in the local newspaper announcing the sale, knowing that would lock me in and I would have no way out. We began unloading cabinets and closets. We came together on Friday to help each other price the goods. She was selling a wonderful solid oak dresser for a song. Of course, I bought it.

I was selling a baker’s rack which she thought would be a perfect towel holder. Of course, she bought it.I spotted a picture in her pile that was stunning, and she spied a candle holder and lampshade that would be perfect for her new kitchen. And so on, and so on, until all the good stuff in each of our piles had already been claimed and the sale was still a day away.

I rushed in to find something else to sell – you know, to make my part of the sale respectable. I opened my kitchen cupboard and impulsively began to pull out my Blue Willow china. I’d long been craving some new everyday china that more accurate reflects my taste in the 21st century, and besides, I was going to make all that money the next day. It would be like getting new china for free. Into the driveway it went.

The problem was Brenda was doing the same thing. She dragged out a wonderful pine bookcase painted the exact color of my home office and a stunning framed sampler that I’m sure is extremely valuable. Mine, and mine. This went on until well after dark and we finally called it quits, exhausted but certain the hard work would pay huge dividends.

The next morning, we sat outside waiting for the early birds everyone predicted. Not a soul was in sight. Seven o’clock arrived and one solitary pedestrian casually walked over to check out the display of priceless goods. He sniffed and grimaced.

“You got anything under a dollar!” he asked. We didn’t, and were offended that he didn’t see the value of what was at his fingertips. The next customer arrived and kind of turned up her nose – not sure if it was the pricing or the merchandise. Someone finally bought my Dr. Shoal’s running shoes for $5 – the last thing I thought I would sell. The $35 shoes had never been used – except once to swat a roach. I still had to sell $15 worth of stuff just to pay for the ad in the newspaper.

Brenda and I consoled each other with the excuse that there were some twenty other garage sales going on. Then we learned that someone had stolen our street sign so no one could find us anyway. We sat in the miserable heat and waited for the torture to end. She was tactful not to mention this was my idea.

At the last moment I sold my exquisite vintage lawn chair I had priced at $25. I sold it for a buck – just so I wouldn’t have to drag it back up on the porch. My $40 set of Blue Willow, complete with soup tureen and coffee mugs, went for $12 – and I was glad to get it. Now I don’t have any plates except my good china. I’m eating a tomato sandwich off my new set of Brawny as I write this.

My big sale was an empty 80-ounce Vlassic pickle jar I had tossed in the trash. I sold it for $1.50. Go figure.

The good news is I made some new friends (even if they didn’t like my “stuff”) and I lost four pounds. I made a grand total of $70 but I owe Brenda most of that. I guess it was worth it but I won’t be having another garage sale until it is a COLD day in June. That means never.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *