Garage Sale

We helped my parents host their first garage/estate sale a couple of years ago, and let me explain how much we underestimated such an undertaking. Keep in mind you can count on one hand how many garage sales I’ve ever been to in my life. We debated whether to put “no early birds” in the newspaper ad or not. Dad said he’s normally up early and Irish Hill is so far out in the middle of nowhere that there shouldn’t be that many, so if a few people show up before the 8am start time it’s not a big deal. I told him we’d be there at 7am to help. On the way there when our car crested the knoll by their house and we noticed the sea of cars, I said, “Uh oh!” and Russ mumbled, “You’ve got to be kidding me.” When we pulled up, I had never seen so many people in that yard in my life. Apparently, there’s an entire secret society of garage sale pickers who spend their summer mapping out a strategy each weekend of which houses to hit within a 50-mile radius, and the earlier the better. Poor Dad said he walked outside with his coffee first thing in the morning and there were already people there. He never finished his coffee. I was supposed to man the change drawer. I thought I had a lot of concession stand experience through the years with 3 kids in multiple sports, it’d be a piece of cake! No. It’s not the same. Concession stand customers do not haggle over a 50 cent Laffy Taffy or a $1 water bottle. I have no negotiation skills because if I ever went into Macy’s and said I’ll give you $5 for this $35 sweater, they’d call security on me. People were negotiating prices like it was a complex peace treaty and lives were on the line. I had no idea what to accept, so I had to keep bugging my poor parents for prices. At one point my sisters and I implemented operation keep the parents hydrated, because they were just ambushed with people. Me included. Between what my parents inherited from their parents…including from my Grandpa Guiton’s farm purchased in 1920…plus their own collections, the belongings spanning 3 centuries were scattered everywhere as if a tornado went through and spread debris everywhere. People were asking me what the items from the 1800’s were, and my standard response was, “It’s been in the attic for decades; this is my first time seeing it too. Let me ask my Dad.” My brother Jer, brother-in-law Gregg, Russ, and all the kids spent the 3-day garage sale weekend just shoving furniture into people’s cars as fast as they could. It was too late to change the ad to just two days, so we had to just power through it. At one point my Dad took off his flannel jacket and hung it from a hook in his shed, and the next thing you know someone was walking around the yard with it, unwittingly wanting to buy the shirt right off his back. When it started to sprinkle, we put a big blue tarp down on some of the items for sale in the yard. I noticed someone lifted up the tarp and crawled on his hands and knees under it! I told Dad, “I think you need to help that guy under the tarp.” He looked to where I was pointing and replied, “There’s nobody over there.” I said, “Dad, there’s a human being under the tarp. I think he can’t breathe under there and he needs assistance I’m not prepared to give.” By the third day negotiations had drastically changed. All the good stuff had sold, and we were left with the land of misfit toys, as if they were like “Charlie in the Box” from the old Rudolph cartoon. So when people wanted to buy something, we would say, “No, you can’t just take that. You have to take the whole table of stuff, so bring your car around.” Eventually we started a bonfire so operation “burn it all” could commence. The thought of whatever bad that didn’t sell was coming home with us sparked Russ to kick it into high gear and start running towards the inferno with stuff. In the end, we loaded the possessions that were salvageable in all of our cars to take to Interfaith and Salvation Army, and called it a day. My poor brother had to drive back to Maryland with keepsakes piled so high he couldn’t see out his back window. It was great to see friends and family and meet new people though, and we’re thankful people bought stuff! So nice to see things still getting good use, thank you to all who came! Are any of you garage salers?

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