Summer is winding down, which means garage sale season is winding down as well. I don’t know how it is where you live, but it seems I can’t drive 100 feet without seeing a cardboard sign with an arrow pointing me towards the sale of the century each weekend.
Before I get into the rest of this post, let’s pause and talk about these garage sale signs.
- People are driving by, meaning they won’t read the paragraph you write in 12 pt. font with a pencil on a piece of cardboard. Use bright colors and the word “Sale.” You’re not pitching a screenplay. You’re selling crap.
- Make sure you spell things correctly. If I see a sign that says “Hudge Sale” as I did a couple weeks ago, I will assume that a dictionary is not among your offerings and will only stop to edit your sign and judge you.
Let’s move on.
If you’ve never actually put on a garage sale yourself and tried to convince people they need to buy the crap you just don’t want, allow me to clue you in as to just how much fun they can be. I conducted a yard sale myself a couple years ago around this time and feel I’ve recovered enough to talk about my experience.
The Night Before: You stay up late making tiny price tag stickers for all the junk you’re hoping people will buy. It’s early in the game, so you’re psychotically optimistic, calculating the total value of your "inventory" at slightly over $5,000, give or take what you can get for those old curtains that came with the house you found stored in the attic.
6: 30 AM The garage sale is scheduled to begin at 8 am, but a woman pounds on your door and tell you she “likes to get an early start." When you walk outside to let her “window shop,” you notice that not only is the summer weather unpredictably cold and rainy, but that there are five other cars in your driveway.
6: 35 AM One of those cars is your crazy uncle—a black belt in flea markets, weekend auctions and roaming the beach with a metal detector—who is there to help manage the situation. He immediately lays claim to a yard tool he forgot he gave you last week.
9:30 AM You’ve sold a few things, but are already annoyed with the fact that everything isn’t sold and you’re not counting your riches. A shopper offers you a dollar for your lawnmower that is brand new and not for sale.
You ask him to leave.
10 AM You look for your uncle and find him drinking Busch Light in a can and offering extras to shoppers for $1 a piece. He tells you he has sold three beers. At 10 AM.
Noon: You leave the operation in the hands of your uncle/concession seller and go inside to get some lunch. A stranger knocks on your back door and asks to try on some T-shirts for sale, and another wants to know if you have “weenies to go with the beer.”
You ask them to leave.
12:30 PM When you return to the sale, you find your uncle slightly manic because he has sold a shovel, a set of garden tools and a hose for 50 cents each. You tell him that they weren’t for sale in the first place. He replies that he wondered why there were no price tags.
You ask him to leave. Of course, he won’t.
2 PM A group of college boys will stop by and start trying on some of your clothes in the driveway, conducting their own drag queen fashion show. Your mom will attempt to stuff dollar bills into their bejeweled belts (priced at 50 cents) and your uncle will offer them beer.
They are cute. You will not ask them to leave. In fact, you will give them the clothes, a few other items and several pathetic come-hither stares.
2:30 PM You decide things are taking entirely too long and start drastically slashing prices like an overzealous mattress salesman who does his own commercials. In fact, you just start giving stuff away and find that’s entirely more fun, especially because it pisses off your crazy neighbor lady who is trying to sell a holographic palm tree for $50.
4 PM You’re done. You’ve given almost everything away. It’s hard to know what your take is for the day, because at some point your uncle apparently sold the cash box. However, you find a dollar your mom dropped during the impromptu frat boy fashion show and seek out your uncle, who is digging through your “crap I’m throwing away” pile.
4:05 PM You buy a beer.
4:06 PM You vow never to do this again.
Do you have any great “garage sale finds” stories? Horror stories? Have you put one on yourself?