They come in the early morning light, prowling, snooping, scoping. Word spreads among them like wildfire. Before you know it, there are five, ten of them at a time, picking up, poking, moving, bargaining, and pawing at your possessions. They are a previously un-encountered subgroup of our population; they are hard-core garage salers.
As we embarked on the first step of downsizing our lives to fit in a small storage unit and a 6 by 15 foot camper, we had no idea the highs and lows we would experience in the process. Initially I was enamored with the ideal of purging our lives of extraneous belongings and stripping ourselves down to the bare essentials back to what we were 8 years ago as poor college students surviving off of top ramen and sleeping on mattresses on the floor. Remember the days when everything you owned fit in the back of your car? That is where I wanted to be. Ken, ever the voice of reason (or not), suggested that we rid ourselves of a majority of stuff, retaining only things we were emotionally attached to or would spend sums of money on when we returned to Seward. I reluctantly agreed and started on the laborious process of sorting through everything we owned, deciding what to sell, and deciding how much to sell it for–all in all a very difficult, time consuming process.
As the weekend of the garage sale approached, we worried. Did we have proper signage? Were we pricing items correctly? Why would anyone want to buy this junk? Friday was an informal start as we invited friends over to look over everything and snap up what we thought were the good items. It should have been our first clue when a random neighbor stopped by, uninvited and unannounced. That neighbor called their son, that son called their daughter-in-law, that daughter-in-law called her ex- husband. We ended up selling most of our “big ticket” items that first day. ‘Awesome’ we thought to ourselves. That was easy. Oh great, now all that is left is literally stuff we know isn’t worth anything.
The next morning as I left for work, Ken put on a cup of coffee and readied himself for the day. Since I hit my snooze one too many times, I didn’t have time to put up extra signs around town and worried for the first hour of work that no one would show up, and it would all be my fault. My phone rang at 11:15 am; the first garage sale had been open for approximately one hour and fifteen minutes. “Hello,” I said nervously expecting Ken to lambaste me for lack of signage because there had been absolutely no customers. Instead I was surprised by an excited and overwhelmed boyfriend describing an unrelenting onslaught of people buying, bargaining, and almost clearing out the garage sale in the first hour it was open.
By the end of the day over 80% of the items had sold and Ken had encountered and survived a wide variety of intense and seasoned garage salers. We didn’t even extend the sale into the second day. All I can say is, I’m glad I was serving beers to tourists instead of dealing with garage sale mania.
Side note for all you grammar fanatics out there. I know saler is not a word. I apologize to you and especially to Mr. Leland, my 8th grade English teacher, who strove tirelessly to instill some grammar sense in me to now avail.