There’s a Saturday Morning I’ll Never Get Back

Garage Sale StuffThroughout the course of my life, there have been some colossal wastes of time.

There was the year I spent as a high school sophomore pining for a senior pom-pom girl. There was the semester I spent in Ithaca, thinking I was actually quantifiably skilled enough to get a Cornell MBA. There were the hours I spent watching the Dino de Laurentiis version of King Kong and Michael Minghella’s The English Patient.

This weekend’s garage sale ranks up there with all of them as another colossal waste of time. Taking part in the city’s annual citywide garage sale, I spent hours worrying (see this post from several weeks ago) and preparing everything: getting stuff down from the attic, dusting, pricing, categorizing, setting up in the garage to see if I had enough table space, checking eBay for comparative prices, baking cookies, buying water, setting aside a box of free stuff – everything to have a nice presentation and even refreshments. (All proceeds were to go to the local humane society, and I asked for a 25-cent donation per cookie and water.)

The morning was characterized by things that didn’t happen.

I got lots of advice from people ahead of time. Many said that perennial early birds would knock on my door before the official start time, asking to peruse everything first. Didn’t happen.

Others said that professionals would offer me a low, flat rate to take everything in one fell swoop. Didn’t happen.

Still more advised to be prepared for hagglers. Didn’t happen.

I asked my stepbrother to join me so that someone could watch over the merchandise in case I got deluged by people. Didn’t happen.

The other thing that didn’t happen? Not too many people came by and I didn’t sell too much stuff. Some people stopped, walked up one side of the tables and down the other, and got back in their cars. I have no idea what people were looking for – well, one guy wanted a bicycle and another said he was looking for DVDs – but it was clear that whatever it was, it wasn’t on the driveway. Some people just swung into the cul-de-sac, and then kept on rolling. I’ve heard of drive-by shootings, but never drive-by shopping.

In the first hour, most of the money I had came from the sale of cookies. I could just as easily have had a bake sale. One man took six of the free pens and insisted on giving me two dollars.

By noon, I had no intention of spending another three hours in the driveway, letting people sneer at my belongings. As if to second my decision, the skies startled sprinkling. We moved everything back in to the garage (making it a real garage sale), took a couple more visitors, and then closed up shop.

I don’t know how many items I actually sold, but after three hours of sitting with my step-brother, only about two-dozen people had come by. We made $31.50. (That amount more than doubled when my step-brother took some stuff with him when he went home and gave me $40.)

Frankly, this was a blow to my ego. Everyone, myself included, thinks that they have taste. A lot of the items on the driveway were things I’d purchased and simply didn’t have room for anymore. But they were still mine, things I’d cherished at one time. I thought it was rather nice of me to send them out into the world, so that other people could enjoy them.

But whadya know, they’re still mine. At least until I can get to Goodwill.


About middleagecranky

The Middle-Age Cranky blog is written by baby boomer Howard Baldwin, who finds the world, while occasionally wondrous, increasingly aggravating.
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8 Responses to There’s a Saturday Morning I’ll Never Get Back

  1. GingerR says:

    Are those mugs expresso-cup sized? i have a collection of Starbuck’s mugs from around the world. I’d have bought ’em!

  2. I think what this whole exercise shows me is that Americans have become such vast consumers and accumulators, and new stuff can be acquired so cheaply, very few people are even interested in garage sales. Hell, one can get new stuff for just as cheap at Wal Mart or the 99 cent store! Its even hard to GIVE things away. I had a harsh realization when I went to drop off about 10 large bags of carefully folded clothing and also toys from Katie’s childhood to a women’s shelter run by the LA Mission. I was sent to a loading dock at the back of the building, and they were literally BAILING clothing which was getting ready to be shipped to other countries. I had had an idea that our lovely things would be enjoyed by local needy families. Wow.

    I know I have too much stuff, and as I get older, I see that much of my time is spent simply managing my stuff!

    So sorry the sale was a bust. But for us your readers, we got a great story out of it. Thank you Howard.

  3. Connie says:

    You probably had your stuff priced too high. You can’t charge antique mall prices at a yard sale. Lower your prices WAY down and you’ll have a different experience.

  4. SteveL says:

    Howard, thanks for confirming what I’ve told my wife for years. Garage sales are not worth my time or effort. I get more benefit out of hauling it all to Goodwill with a tax receipt in return. And then I can spend the rest of the day playing golf or riding my motorcycle. What I haven’t figured out is how not to collect all that junk in the first place.

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