‘Tis the Season (For Garage Sales)

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Editor’s Note: Even though there are no banjos, fiddles, no bands, no bluegrass….no music at all….this morning’s Welcome has got more bluegrass content in it than just about anything we’ve posted here. That’s because Kathy and Gene Kirkpatrick, two of a small group of men and women who’s blood sweat and tears have sustained the California Bluegrass Association through many, many years, are following through on their threat. They’re folding up their tent and taking off into the sunset; gonna travel the country in their RV. How do we know they’re not just bluffing? Read on.)

You clean closets, garages, attics, basements and/or any other place you keep stuff that you don’t know why you kept in the first place. Some things you don’t even know what they are, much less why they are taking up much needed space in your home. “If you haven’t used it in 5 years…you don’t need it!” Of course, you dug out stuff that you had kept for much longer than that…and hadn’t used it and in some cases don’t know what it was for. So you set a date, you clean, repair, and price everything cheap so you won’t have to find a place for what doesn’t sell. You advertise in the paper, get some change, move the vehicles to around the block, put up signs. and you get ready to dicker.

And then they come! They pull up in their mini vans, SUV’s, pickups, cars and, yes, even bicycles. Some even double-park in front of the driveway. Friday is the busiest day, and it seems to bring the serious garage sale shoppers. These are the folks that set aside Fridays to acquiesce to their (admitted) addiction to garage sales. This is also the day that “dealers” show up and buy a lot of stuff at bargain prices that they will resell at the Flea Market on Saturday, and they are not ashamed to tell you they intend to do this. Some even run “previously used” shops where they will resell your precious treasures (or junk, depending on your point of view).

Your ad gives the hours (8a.m. to 4p.p.), the address, the type of items you will offer for sale (i.e. household goods, tools, etc), and specifies “no early birds!” Still there will people standing outside your garage door at 7a.m or 7:30a.m. and ask if they can “just look” before you put your tables full of stuff out in the driveway. You tell them “we’re not open yet”, and commence to move the tables, benches, etc. By the time you are set up and ready (about 7:30-7:45a.m.) some folks have already picked out their stuff and are waiting for you to take their money. Meantime, there are other folks there that are setting up little piles of stuff they want to purchase, while they continue to shop. They fully expect you to keep an eye on their piles so that no one else picks it out to buy….and you do it.

By the end of day one…Friday…you discuss with your spouse how surprised you are at what they bought, and what they didn’t buy. Sometimes the stuff you expect to go quickly on Friday morning, are still left on Saturday when you close up. Other things that you were sure would never sell, at any price, are snatched up immediately. However, you go back thru the house, garage, attic, basement, or wherever you have kept these items heretofore, to look for more stuff to clean up, price, and add to the Saturday merchandise.

On Saturday, it slows to a crawl. Now we have the Saturday browsers, and the drive-bys. Many people on Saturday are looking for something specific…a picnic table, an old computer, a rocking chair, etc…and they drive by and slow down (or even stop) in front of the house, but they don’t get out of the car. When they don’t see what they want, they make a u-turn and keep going. Others just drive by, see the signs and decide to “check it out because you never know what’s there if you don’t stop.” Or they will tell you they were there on Friday and got some good bargains and just wondered what you had left. Or maybe their sister, mother, father, cousin, etc. had been there on Friday on got some good bargains, so they wondered if they could also.

By 3p.m. on Saturday, no one has been here for an hour or more, and there isn’t much left, so you decide to close up early. Invariably, someone will come just after you close, so you let them look for 15-20 minutes, after which they go on their way having purchased nothing. Some folks will box up the stuff that is left for the next garage sale, some will pack it up and donate it to a charitable thrift shop, some will call the trash hauler that came buy on Friday and left his flyer (he will haul it all away for you at a price, then sell it at the Flea Market the following week), and some of you will just dump it in your own trash.

When you count up all the proceeds on Sunday afternoon, you ask yourself if it was all worth it. That is a question only you can answer. Did you make a little money? Did you get rid of a lot of stuff you neither need nor want anymore? Are you totally exhausted? Do you still have stuff to get rid of? Are you moving to a smaller place? Are you putting stuff in storage so you can travel? If the answer to all of the above is “yes”, then I guess it was worth it.

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