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The Beauty of Garage Sales

May 31, 2013

51kX1ViHnkL._SS500_Hello again! So as you know from reading my last post, I spent last week visiting my high school friends in California. It had its ups and downs like any vacation, and I’m really, really glad I went, but while spending the first weekend in San Francisco with two of my friends and their boyfriends (don’t worry, after living with the engaged Snow Whore and Cinderslut I’ve mastered the art of the 5th wheel), I realized something terribly sad about the world; not everyone knows the beauty of the garage sale.

“We don’t talk to strangers in the city,” he said to me seriously, annoyed that I’d even considered stopping at a women’s moving sale. “You don’t know where that stuff has been.”

We were only a few blocks from their apartment, walking back after dropping our rented bikes off around the corner and my friend’s boyfriend was tired. We’d spent all day riding through Golden Gate Park and across the bridge, stopping for scenic pictures and drinking beers at a tiny restaurant across the water. It had been a fine day really, and the rush of adrenaline I felt once I made it to the top of a hill was something I’d been missing over the last few months of my sedentary 9-5 job, but, his anger confused me. I’d been a passive guest all weekend, going with the flow staying as neutral as possible, but apparently five more minutes of being out and about wasn’t something this particular boy was willing to take, especially for something as unknown as a garage sale.

I could make excuses for him, and I know my friend (his girlfriend) must have. After all it’s not unreasonable to be grumpy and tired from a long day. I suppose that box of books I found had indeed been sitting in a garage for a few weeks gathering a few unpleasant germs. And we were only a few blocks away from their apartment, I get that I’d be annoyed if he’d stopped to impulse buy $200 dollar shoes at a pretentious designer shop.

But the thing is we were all tired. He has no excuse for his rudeness other than the plain, simple fact that he doesn’t appreciate the beauty of the garage sale. And this pains me way more than his grumpy statement.garage_sale_america_book_cover_1310409554

On Garage sale days I’m out of the house by 7, doing little more than rolling out of bed and finding a baseball hat to cover up the grease. YES for not worrying what other people think! Searching through your neighbor’s possessions is by no means glamorous, so dressing down is expected, giving me the perfect excuse to wear my favorite old sweatshirts out and about. When I go with my parents they have a system down, looking up the sales on our community website the night before and planning out the best route, but my favorite part is the unexpected signs that weren’t on the list; following the neon paper directions is like following a treasure map- who knows what will be at the end?!

With garage sales it’s always a race against the clock; everyone knows the best stuff is gone by 8am. But at the same time it is a leisurely activity; we take out time to be respectful of the seller’s possessions. It is impolite not to stop to talk while you look through their boxes of old books and peruse their table of overused knickknacks. These are a person’s memories on display for you to see, and granted, none of these items are prized possessions, but you’d be surprised what people remember about their life just when you’re about to take a part of it away from them. And for those of you who say it’s all junk-you’d be even more surprised how much of what we find is actually awesome.

People have sales for all sorts of reasons: moving, cleaning out, making a few extra bucks, but many times people need to get rid of things they love but just don’t have space for anymore. People tell me ALL THE TIME that they’re just so glad to give this to a happy home! Sure, the junk is there, but so is the awesome and it’s your job to find it.

PrintAnd as for the prices, they actually cannot be beat. Last weekend I got $40 worth of paper doilies,  a hardcover copy of all Shakespeare’s plays in prime condition, two rolls of wrapping paper and three decks of cards for a quarter-TOTAL.  And that was just one house. I’d been planning to get my mother a dual VHS/DVD player for her birthday since our Disney VHS collection is off the charts, but I’ve been dragging my feet since a player like that is $50 minimum anywhere online. Last weekend bought one with a remote for $1. The woman was so happy I was going to give it to my mother she threw in a set of gardening tools for free. I hooked it up later that day and it works perfectly. There was even another place a few weeks ago where I got the unopened first season of Gossip Girl for 50 cents (I’ll admit I lost track of that show a few years ago but no one can deny the magic of season one).

My mother goes for metal yard art, my father for CD’s to use on his radio show. I’ve heard some people do it for the resale value, I’m sure those Pawn Star TV shows have converted a few passive buyers into aggressive ones. But that isn’t why I go. I go for art supplies. I go for anything that won’t be impossible to move to my next place of residence. I go because it gives me ideas for presents for my loved ones. I go to see what other people care about. I go because you never know who you’re going to run into or what you’re going to find. I go because it’s an adventure and I so, so, SO love it.

With my parents we’re usually home by 9am, all working together to make breakfast and go through our haul. We’ve got the rest of the day ahead of us, a feeling of accomplishment already feeding our souls. Garage sales are my happy place (one of them at least) and if you haven’t found the beauty of them yet, then you’re missing out.

p.s. at the San Francisco garage sale I got two bird watching books for free that I gave to my mother for Mother’s Day. She loved them.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. June 2, 2013 1:44 am

    I MISS GARAGE SALES. It’s one of my favorite things about America!

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