Joanne Palmer: Seven stages of garage sales |

Joanne Palmer: Seven stages of garage sales

Joanne Palmer

Stage 1 Inspiration: Friday

Yes! A garage sale. Why not? The household budget is experiencing a petite deficit; closets are overflowing and clutter reigns supreme. In a moment of entrepreneurial insanity, I decide to pool my trinkets, trash and treasures with others and haul everything over to a friend’s house.

Let the pitching and packing begin!

After 30 minutes it is painfully obvious I singly handedly could have launched the shabby chic craze. “Shabby chic” is the term bestowed upon a trendy style of decorating. Garage sale finds are “reinterpreted” and strategically placed around a home and voila, you and your domicile are tres chic. That would describe the entire contents of my house. Other than my mattress, I can’t identify anything that isn’t second hand.

Stage 2 Perspiration: Saturday, 6:00 a.m.

Why go to the gym when you can bench press boxes of books, pots, pans and small appliances? Pump up that heart rate with leftover tiles, bricks and light fixtures from home improvement projects. Here’s a cache of kitchen gadgets from short-lived health kicks that includes, but is not limited to a juicer, something that freeze dries fruit and umpteen water bottles. The hall closet overflows with a collection of “volunteer wear,” coats and fleece with sponsor logos I have earned from various World Cup and other sporting events. I hang onto these primarily for houseguests who may not understand the concept of layering.

Let them freeze.

Stage 3 Desperation: 7:30 a.m.

Where are those early birds? I’m cold, I can see my breath and my entrepreneurial zeal is waning. I try to warm up by merchandising, grouping my belongings into sections like “entertainment” and “cooking.” The other sellers prepare by tying on aprons and produce bank bags full of change.

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Stage 4 Negotiation: 8:03 a.m.

A car pulls up. There’s hope! As I rush to greet the first prospect I almost trip over that stupid fish, “Billy Bob Bass” that sings, “Don’t worry, be happy.” Maybe they’d like a warm “volunteer wear” jacket to wear while they shop? Hey, that’s your color; I’ll give you half price on it. More people arrive parking haphazardly, spilling out of their cars with kids, dogs, and to-go mugs brimming with steaming coffee. They feign disinterest as they pick through my collection of salt and pepper shakers, Sponge Bob videos and chipped dishes.

“It’s vintage,” I say to one shopper considering the purchase of a cracked old suitcase.

“I just bought it for $4.99 and read it on the airplane last week.” I whine to a woman who is questioning my 50 cents paperback price.

She stalks off.

Stage 5 Elation: 10:22 a.m.

I take a bathroom break to count and tally my proceeds. Enough for a tank of gas … hoo-ha!

Stage 6 Collap-sation: 11:45 a.m.

I’m so tired I can barely move. My back hurts. I am popping Ibuprofen at an alarming rate. I can not stomach another cup of coffee and yet I have to find the energy for the “bag and drag.” Repacking. Ugh. A friend arrives with doughnuts. That will help. I throw what I can still lift into trash bags, and head for the closest thrift shop.

Stage 7- Reconciliation: Sunday Morning

If I subtract the price of the chiropractic adjustment from my gross receipts I’ll have enough for 9.9 gallons of gas.


I don’t even warrant a Ski Haus buck.

But, hey! I can still buy a lotto ticket.