Tales From a Garage Sale Virgin

I’m a huge nerd for being so happy about the success of our garage sale this weekend.  I hate clutter, so the purger in me was thrilled by the cleansing aspect of the whole thing.  Plus it’s just fabulous people watching, right in your own driveway.  I didn’t have the nerve to take photos of people as they were shopping (and risk losing the sale), but let me tell you, there are images distinctly embossed in my mind, for better or worse.  Hello, cross-section of America — welcome to the side of my house.

Let me first say that we never made any progress on the prep front.  I mean, none.  My neighbor Donna was in her garage and basement for a couple of nights leading up to the big event, sorting through her stuff and getting it all ready.  She made all the signs to hang up around town (which were fabulous).  My meager contribution was a posting on Craigslist.

P and I vowed Friday night, right in line with our last-minute ways, to get into that basement and at least mentally sort through what was staying vs going.  Didn’t happen — I fell asleep on the couch at 9:00.  We rolled ourselves outside at 6:45 Saturday morning (for a 9am start time, now advertised all over town) and found Donna had practically set up a retail establishment in her driveway.  Apparently, while we foolishly slept, she had been outside until midnight and back out there at 5am getting ready.  She had so much stuff, all organized and merchandized.  Racks of clothing hanging up.  Rows of shoes.  Major furniture.  And a bunch of items in between.  She had a nice little home base table with a calculator and a fanny pack full of small bills and change.  Donna was a garage sale rock star.

We were humbled novices.

We were dragging our stuff up from the basement and realizing that this garage sale was forcing life decisions.

“Aren’t we putting all the baby stuff out for sale?”

“I don’t know, are we?  What if we need it again?”

Family planning conversations in the driveway at sunrise before coffee — yes, we were sorely underprepared.

But I will tell you that it all went unbelievably well.  Donna’s signs brought us tons of foot traffic, despite the early birds (What is with these people?   You have to show up for first dibs 30 minutes before start time?).  And we had a perfect weather day.  I’m sort of convinced Donna arranged that as well. 

For me and my Type A-ness, I really just wanted the stuff gone.  Yes, I was happy to get money for it but the value of purging it far outweighed its retail value in my mind. 

And because we have a little history of keep vs purge debates in our marriage, there were a few items that we each were keeping a watchful eye on during the sale. 

Item #1:  P’s rollerblades.  I have known him since 1999 and have never witnessed him on rollerblades, though he insists on moving them from home to home with us over the years.  (Sold!)

Item #2:  Rolling dice glassware set.  This is a very kitschy set that was gifted to us.  P wanted to get rid of it.  I don’t love it but it has some sentimental value to me.  (Not sold — though plenty of folks considered it, or maybe just pointed at it.)

Item #3:  Bucket of noisy children’s books.  I’m all for cute kids’ books, but you know that feeling of wishing for a particularly noise-making book to break?  I was done with some of the key offenders in this category and felt other families may not be annoyed as easily by them.  Many noisy books sold, except for the one I hate most — because I was dumb enough to keep it in plain sight where my son could notice and promptly reclaim it.  (Epic fail.)

Overall, I’d say we sold 90% of what we put out there — and managed to make some good money too.  So it was ok to be underprepared.  I think my sales associates were also helpful and quite charming.

My daughter handled the rug and pillows department.

And my son was the general greeter/sales manager.

So why is there still so much stuff in my basement?  We may have to do this again, come springtime.

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  1. Nadja says:

    I love this, you came to your surburban garage sale like a true manhattanite!! Thank goodness for you, your kids are adorable and you have cool stuff!

  2. Onnie says:

    Hmm… that whole roller blade thing rings a little too true. Wondering if I have been on mine since 1999?

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