Thursday, October 4, 2012

Garage Sale Personalities

We're moving in the next 3 to 6 months. I decided to have a garage 4 months ago.

I started early, because there was clearly a lot of crap that I didn't want to move. I sorted, discarded and priced room by room. I came across a lot of stuff where I questioned my sanity as to why I chose to hang on to a particular item in the first place. (i.e. a fake feathered bird, a spider Christmas ornament...what the heck was I thinking?!)

There was stuff that I knew had to go, but couldn't part electronic keyboard reminiscent of the 80s (hey, it's exactly like the one Van Halen used to play "Jump"!), tons of arts and craft stuff (I can always use beads shaped like dragonflies, right?) and stuff that I just knew I wouldn't get the price I wanted (like genuine lead crystal bowls, a model train from the 60s, still in the box).

Anyway, I worked my ass off for 3 months. I didn't have much spare time, so had to do it little by little. There were times I actually cried because of items that brought resounding blankets that I swear I could still smell sour milk on (but not true because I washed EVERY piece of clothing and every toy...anal. I know.) I forced myself to get rid of anything in my closet that I hadn't worn in the last 3 years, no matter how much I tried to convince myself I could still fit in it if I just put in a little effort. And all that stealthy work I did behind the kids's back to price toys that they don't even remember they had, and to avoid the protest, "HEY! You can't sell this, I play with it ALL. THE. TIME."

Anyway, I gradually put everything in my basement, and when the day before the big day came, I put everything in the garage.

My husband FINALLY commented, "You did this all by yourself?!" Really? You didn't pick up on all the pot shots I took at you for NOT helping? Did you not see me popping Ibuprofin like they were Skittles?

We had 40 mph winds the first day, and every time a big gust blew through, I was racing after my perfectly folded clothes, and double checking that nothing fragile broke. I nearly cried when several boxes of puzzles went flying. What do you do then? Put together a 1000 piece puzzle to make sure all the pieces are there when the box top landed in your neighbor's yard...two doors down? Trash it. No other option.

My youngest was hilarious. He greeted everyone. Took them to every table to introduce them to items HE thought they should have. But the people watching? That made everything worth while. I have shoved them into categories:

The Early Birds. Usually couples that are 60+ and show up a half hour before we are open. I don't know if they assume my sale is going as popular as Best Buy on Black Friday, but they're there early to stake their claim. They usually don't buy anything, but they feel better that they were there first.

The Slummers. I don't mind them. They have money, but they're always looking for a bargain. They don't haggle you on the price if they find something they want, because they're used to paying twice that much without blinking. They are also the people who paid a $1 for my son's 50¢ glass of lemonade at his lemonade stand (who am I to stand in the way of entrepreneurship?), even though it was only 50ยบ outside. Love them. And thank you.

The Drive By's. Do all their shopping from their car at 15 mph. But don't stop.

The Barginer's. It doesn't matter what price you have on that sticker, they're going to offer half. "Hey, you willing to take 15¢ on this?" and the sticker says 25¢. Hell, I made it a bargain in the first place...fine. You need to win? You win.

The Groupies. Usually women who shop in groups of three or more. They compliment each other on their "find" but are secretly jealous they didn't find it first.

The Unexpected. Like the guy who looked like a former member of ZZ Top band member or roadie and showed up on his Harley, yet bought my entire cat figurine collection without batting an eye.

The Double-Take. They show up, offer you a ridiculously low price on something. You refuse. They leave. They return the next day and if the item is still there, they pay the full price. No questions asked.

The OMG, I Can't Believe That Just Happened. A guy who shows up, looking like someone you'd search on sight at an airport. He tries on all of my husband's sweatshirts, right there on the driveway, exposing his pot belly and extra hairy back before buying. At that point dude, just take them! I'm not touching them any more.

The Ripley's Believe It Or Not. Won't buy anything until you run a 50 ft extension cord from the back of your house, through the garage, to the item he wants to buy, just to make sure it turns on.

The Wish I Knew You. People who wanted to buy items and told me stories about themselves and I felt like I could have sat and listened for hours. We had a guy show up, he knew what he wanted. Deer antlers, old ammo, or anything to do with hunting. He told me his wife died not too long ago. He seemed to just want to hang out and talk. Before he left, he gave each of my sons a $2 bill and a 50¢ piece. I loved him.

And last but not least, the Random Act of Kindness. I had a couple of brothers ride up on their bicycles. They were nice, polite (and without being racist) ethnic. They looked over the toys and asked if we had anything for free. At the same time, a petite woman examined my clothes, looking for her daughter. To be honest, I focused my attention on her. What size do you need? What type of clothing? Thy boys played in the background with some of the toys. Finally having her fill, the lady came up to my table and asked, "How much for the wrestling ring and action figures?" I told her $5 for all. She walked back, near where the boys were playing, plucked the items out of the box and laid them before me. She handed me a $5 bill and I thanked her for her business. As she left with the toys, she stopped by the boys. "Here guys." She said as she handed over the items to the two boys, "Have fun." And she left. The boys came up to me and said, "Did that lady pay for these?" I smiled. "Yes." I said. They grabbed their bikes and left.

Honestly, I felt humbled. I wish I would have said something to her. I wish I would have given them something "free." But I inwardly promised myself, I would pay it forward.

And I did. Everything I didn't sell, I donated to a group at school who were trying to raise money by having a garage sale. I borrowed a dear friend and her pick up. We boxed everything up, acquired more bruises. And felt entirely great about the whole thing.

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