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4/23/09
The Garage Sale

Ya'll might be wondering where I've been recently. I know it seems like I totally dropped off the face of the earth. Well, I have two words for you...

Garage sale.

See, about two years ago, my grandparents downsized from a big sprawling house with stairs into a much smaller, non-stair house in order to be easier on their little old-people joints. And that was very good, except that the laws of physics and good decorating clearly state that what fills up a big sprawling house will never fit into a smaller, non-sprawling house. And so there was a lot of good stuff left over, and somebody said, "You know what we need to have? A garage sale".

And we all foolishly thought that was a good idea.

And since we were going to have a garage sale for my grandparents, the rest of us in the family all naturally started eyeballing our own junk priceless heirlooms that we hadn't touched in years and envisioning the money that we could trade it for, and began setting it aside in a pile marked "garage sale".

And it was all well and good. I found purging for the garage sale to be an energizing and uplifting experience. (Which just goes to show you that I live with waaaay too much junk priceless heirlooms). But I happily moved from room to room, looking at everything with new eyes, and decluttering all the closets so that I could feed my ever-growing pile of garage sale booty. Except there was one little teensy problem. Did all of you observant types notice that I mentioned that all this started TWO YEARS AGO?

While it seemed that we had mastered the gathering stage, we tended to fizzle when it came to the actual planning of the garage sale. Oh we tried several times. We'd sit down and try to pick a date to have the blasted thing, but schedules would never line up, or the weather would turn bad, or someone would get sick...you know how it goes. So in the mean time, we continued to gather...and gather...and gather.

For two years.

We probably would have just gone on like this forever, faithfully gathering, before eventually returning to the dust of the earth and leaving future archaeologists to discover our bizarre piles of random crock pots and queen-sized comforter sets and wonder just what kind of complicated religious ritual we were up to were it not for one thing:

The neighborhood sent out flyers announcing that it was planning a giant, subdivision-wide sale.

And everyone knows that the only thing that trumps a multi-family sale is a neighborhood sale. There was no way we could miss out on that.

So suddenly, with the glance of a single flyer, we were catapulted out of the gathering stage and into the next: organizing and pricing. And oh my goodness, I though this was going to be the part that killed us. Organizing and pricing probably isn't all that bad at your average garage sale. Sure, it's a pain in the rear, but you get it done eventually.

Unless of course, you have gathered junk priceless heirlooms for two years and now have more stuff for sale than a Mall of America. THEN, my friends, it will take you two solid weeks of working 8 to 12 hours a day, (and in the case of my mom, a couple of flat-out all nighters) pricing and organizing and cleaning and trashing because, my word, who in their right mind thought that someone would actually buy all this stuff?

We had stuff piled four feet deep in some areas. Tables were groaning under the load of our junk priceless heirlooms. We'd say things like, "How much do you think a book entitled, "Modern Cooking", copywrite 1942, would go for?" and "Sure, this table is missing three of the four legs, but somebody'll still buy it, right?" And I'll be honest with ya'll, there were more than a couple of times that I'd look around in wild-eyed derangement and think to myself, "Let's just set it all on fire! Enough of this pricing and organizing! Burn baby burn!"

But amazingly, people came. And in 25 and 50 cent increments, the junk priceless heirlooms left. Even the one-legged table and Modern Cooking left. It was a garage sale miracle.

And I suppose, all in all, it was a pretty successful sale. I was impressed with the amount of money that people traded for my stuff, right up until I figured out the amount of prep time up front meant that I worked for approximately $1.87 an hour for two weeks.

I figure I'll use my hard-earned riches to run out and buy more priceless heirlooms.

3 comments:

The Queen of Fifty Cents said...

I love a good garage sale, and I revere the folks who have them. And I plan never to have another of my own, and we just take our junk...er, priceless heirlooms...to the thrift store. But doesn't it feel good to have all that stuff out of your life, even at $1.87 an hour?

Erin said...

I was just discussing this gathering phenomenon with Jer this morning as we are decluttering to sell our house. I've been gathering and piling for the last year to have that elusive garage sale and I have come to realize...it will never happen. So instead I loaded it up into the car and took it to the second hand store :) I know my limits and getting a house ready to sell and planning a garage sale is just beyond my patience level, so good on you for following through on your ginormous garage sale!!!

rediscovery said...

That's actually a pretty good deal. Mom and I spent hours going through Eli's old clothes, cleaning, ironing, hanging, safety pinning index cards with descriptions & prices for a consignment sale. I think I actually spent more money on hangers, index cards, and safety pins to put the clothes in the sale than I actually made. Won't be doing that again anytime soon.