Janet Sheridan: Why would anyone have a garage sale?
Like most newly hatched garage-sale addicts, after a summer spent buying second-hand goods on Saturday and questioning my sanity on Sunday, I decided to have a garage sale of my own. I convinced a group of friends to co-host a sale in my back yard; the ladies who nurtured my garage-sale mania, Shirley and Eileen, agreed to lend their wisdom to our cause.
On a Friday afternoon in September, we assembled to price and organize our possessions. We told our families we’d be finished by dinner; but when we saw one another’s treasures, we fell victim to a buying frenzy that kept us up way past our bedtimes.
After everyone left, I set my alarm for 7:30 a.m. so I would be presentable for the 8 a.m. start specified in our ads. But at 6:30 a.m., a burly, business-like fellow startled me awake by pounding on the back door where our sign, “No early birds” hung. Three cars were parked at the curb and two in our driveway, the occupants watching the big guy’s exertions with approval.
Having been warned by Shirley and Eileen, I ignored the thumps, left the door locked and went about my preparations while my husband muttered bad words in the bedroom. At 8 a.m., when we opened the yard gate for business, a crowd flooded in, their eyes ricocheting like steel balls in a pinball machine.
I wanted to be a cashier, but tattletale Shirley, who had witnessed my inept bargaining, nixed the idea, “Don’t let Janet near your buyers. She’ll accept anything they offer or, worse, advise them to offer less.”
I was encouraged to bargain only with those purchasing my items. My first customer was a freckled fellow with wild hair and a pleased smile who wanted to know if I’d take less for a box of used sewing patterns. When I told him the patterns were sized for me, he said, “Well, my wife’s littler than you, but she’s always hemming things up or taking them in, and she’d look great in the clothes on these envelops.” I smiled, cut the price from $2.50, and sent him home to explain his thinking to his wife.
I received two offers on our friendly yellow lab and three expressions of interest in our 1940’s-era Volkswagen, visible only if customers shaded their eyes and peered through our garage window. Another lady, loaded with goods and optimism, said if I’d give her 50 percent off everything, she’d do the same for me when she had a garage sale. I declined without any help from Shirley and Eileen.
After our advertised closing time, folks wandered into the backyard where we were dismantling tables and boxing items for the thrift store and acted offended when we told them they couldn’t “pick through the junk no one wanted” and take it off our hands. So we locked the back gate and ignored the friendly yoo-hoos that drifted over it. Later, when we tallied the totals and divided the money, my earnings were less than my expenditures during the Friday night frenzy. Oh well.
The next morning, I turned away two ladies who rang the doorbell wanting to know if we’d already taken everything to the thrift store. They retreated, but only after informing me that nobody in their right mind has a garage sale on Saturday and not Sunday as well. Finally, as we were eating dinner, an indignant lady came to the front door wanting her quarter back for a paperback copy of The Exorcist she’d purchased. She’d started it and didn’t like it. Someone should have told her it was a disgusting book.
Sheridan’s book, “A Seasoned Life Lived in Small Towns,” is available in Craig at Downtown Books and Steamboat Springs at Off the Beaten Path Bookstore. She also blogs at http://www.auntbeulah.com on the 1st and 15th of every month.
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