Inevitably all consumers of products will discover one day that they have too much stuff. This will happen on the day you are looking for a beer in your garage and discover you have thirty-seven ice scrapers for the car. As you stand there assessing all the other multiple devices you possess, you come to a very enlightening conclusion: “I really have to get rid of some of my stuff.” There are many ways to address this over consumption.
Most people will just walk away hoping the problem will solve itself. I have used that strategy for far too long now and its success rate has been less than impressive so far. Kind people will give their excess inventory away to charities. Hoarders will just make the piles bigger while capitalist will figure out a way to make money on their junk. Garage Sale seemed like the only feasible solution and so it began.
I put an ad on Kijiji to help alert the public to this Saturday’s social event of the season. I bought little Garage Sale signs that I placed at major intersections near my home to ensure the drivers in my neighbourhood were well aware of the deals on my driveway. Ambitious people will put signs on every corner within a fifty mile radius, but drawing the correct, complicated pointing arrows to those signs takes an engineering degree. The end of the week was all about borrowing tables, assessing prices and praying for sunshine on Saturday. Things suddenly got a little curious.
I was overwhelmed with the response to my ad as each Kijiji user sent messages looking for antique furniture, 1960 Fender guitars and old coin collections. Each email response to my ad was identical. “ I am busy on Saturday, can I come by on Friday night to look at your stuff?”
I discovered that these people are known as “pickers” and scour the earth for the next Picasso painting, and insist that the have earned the right to preview your stuff. I replied to each inquiry with the same answer… “No!”
I thought my one word answer would alleviate all these curious early birds from bothering me for the “presale” at my place. I was wrong. Friday night people knocked on our front door. The opening was always the same.
“ I saw that you were having a garage sale and I was wondering if I could take a look at your items? I unfortunately cannot make your sale tomorrow morning.”
My response was always the same. “You know today is Friday, and I guess the concept of days of the week is a pretty difficult formula. I mean there are seven days and who am I to dispute the accuracy of Cell phone calendars. I appreciate your enthusiasm, and I sure hope you can maintain that enthusiasm for one more day. Hope to see you tomorrow.”
Saturday arrived or as the pickers would say Friday was finally here. The ad was very specific on the time of this sale. 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. was the window of opportunity for this newly discovered group of garage sale fanatics.
7:00 a.m. the first customers arrived and they sure looked a lot like the people who arrived at my door Friday night and apologetically said they could not make it on Saturday morning. I was ready for these professional dealer types and allowed the early perusing. Many had maps for the fifty places they were visiting in the morning based on ads, geography and efficient routing. All asked about the priceless items they had hoped I was giving away for a dollar, and all seemed more than a little upset on how my inventory had let them down.
As the official start time of 8:00 a.m. approached the driveway was becoming a beehive of activity. This irked the beehive in the tree on my front lawn, as busy bees do not appreciate metaphors being made at their expense. This tends to sour the taste of their honey. Sales were made and people parked illegally on the street, to ensure they got to the over stocked tables quickly.
The fourth purchase of the day involved changing a one hundred dollar bill for a twelve-dollar buy. This lady must have thought she was at a Starbucks buying three coffees.
A very old man, who looked 90, but was probably only 89, inquired about a one dollar dish. He took out his plastic change purse and shared that he only had 35 cents. Being the kind man that I am, I said he could have the dish for 35 cents. One minute later he asked about the twenty-dollar dinner set. I said it is more than 35 cents and walked away.
The traffic was brisk for three hours as people bartered, reconsidered, bartered again and finally bought items. I made fun of my wife’s plastic Jello mold, knowing nobody was going to pay a dollar for that piece of junk. It was the first thing to sell.
A lovely old couple from Liverpool came at about 10:00 a. m. and explained they were here for the summer. I asked them about the early 1960s in Liverpool, and they said they had been to the Cavern many times in the early sixties. The clarified that this was the original Cavern and not the tourist location which is now wrongly relocated for the tourists. The couple confidently expressed how small the bar was and how unimpressed they were with this band called The Beatles. The band did get better.
Well past 11:00 a.m. we started shutting the garage sale down. A few return visitors had convinced their spouses that the trinket they had coveted and debated over for a few hours was ultimately worth the one-dollar price tag.
We didn’t sell everything, but now we only had four boxes of junk, not fourteen boxes of junk. I closed the garage door and did a little private dance celebration as a tribute to the sale of the Jello mold.
In a moment of weakness, I packed all the unsold items and delivered them to the Goodwill store, hoping the unsold coffee cups with cat images would brighten up a stranger’s day who had been tragically drinking from cat free coffee cups.
Discovering that garage sales participants are a subculture of our population, I was more than pleased to offer and then quickly extinguish the hope of a hidden treasure buried on the tables of our display. Letting people down is something I am surprisingly good at after years of practise.
For all those economists who proclaim we are in a horrendous downfall as global currencies and trade volatility shatters traditional forecasting models, let me remind you we made $284.37 on Saturday morning, and that is not even a working day for most people.
Postscript: I believe I used the joke, “My garage is for sale for the right price” thirty-seven times during the garage sale.
Cue the Blong: Lazy hazy days of summer, and my lazy mood allow me to lazily repost this Lazy Song.