Garage Sale Tales

Posted by Christine on June 29, 2009 in Shopping |

Who doesn’t love a good summer day; waking up to the birds chirping and sunlight bursting through your window? With the knowledge that the newspaper awaits on your front porch and the classifieds are chalk full of garage sales galore.  And for a fleeting moment you think….it’s going to be a damn good day of junkin’.

In recent weeks I’ve attended many of these garage sales. But please, before you judge my frugality let me explain.  My family is not desolate nor do I take pleasure in haggling over used dishware. My husband and I both have well paying jobs that provide our family with health insurance and the ability to live a comfortable lifestyle. Rather, I enjoy going to these garage sales simply because I take pleasure in seeing the junk other people have collected and are attempting to pardon off on an unsuspecting target. What can these folks get rid of now, that 5 years ago was needed for survival or they would have been unable to wake the next morning if they had not purchased that ab-buster RIGHT NOW?  

Ever heard that the best way to get to know someone was to go through their trashcan? You can find out the most intimate of details simply by looking at what we consider trash. In a way that garage sale is an open trashcan for everyone to look it.  A glimpse into their life and the phases they have passed though. I’m not proud of the “pogs” phase that I entered in my early tween years, but I digress. You could call me a gawker or even think of it as trying to live vicariously through others.  I think it’s just my desire to understand people and see how they live. And of course, to find the most ridiculous pieces of junk on earth and take pictures to tickle my fancy. Case and point below:

Question Mark. What the HELL is that? Does anyone know? When it stops scaring you for 5 seconds come back and revisit it. And then ask yourself, why is there a $5 sticker on it?

In one of my more recent trips I visited a lovely two story colonial in a quiet suburban neighborhood and a mother and son were setting some items out for viewing. As I approached I could not help but be drawn into their conversation. The mother was standing at the foot of a table that was housing some sort of sports memorabilia and a few assorted outdoor games.  She picked up a box that appeared to hold a bocce set and with the power of a mighty hurricane, she screamed to her son “JEREMY, WHY ON EARTH IS THIS OUT HERE? GO PUT IT BACK WITH THE GOOD JUNK?”  Fearing she may start to lob the bocce balls, I immediately halted my approach and took cover under the closet sapling. (I’m prone to concussions so I tend to be cautious around falling objects).

Good junk? As compared to….bad junk or really bad junk? Who gets to designate the difference? Could I find a listing for this type of employment on CareerBuilder? Seriously Lady, GOOD JUNK! What is that? Junk is junk, there is no varying degrees to junk. It’s not like a color spectrum where we have varying shades of the hue red. From now on we’ll need to buy bins and place items into them based on a junk level; good junk, moderately decent junk, really shitty junk.  

As I progressed on down the street there was yet another garage sale for my viewing pleasure and as I approached the dwelling I noted a sign taped to the side of the garage door. My initial thought was that this individual was trying to sell a larger ticket item. For example a bedroom set that they had taken pictures of to display for selling. Genius right? Nope, I was wrong. It was a sign marked with large letters “NO RETURNS OR REFUNDS”.  What parallel garage sale universe have I slipped into? Does this really have to be called out for garage sales? Is it not typical garage sale etiquette that all sales are final?  It’s not like I just walked into my local Wal-mart where I provide my items to the cashier so she can scan the barcodes and provide me with a receipt of my purchases wherein if I need to return one I have documented proof of my purchase. First off, as the homeowner, have you really been in the situation where someone has tried to return an item they purchased from you and to avoid a future re-occurrence you prominently display the “house rules”? Second, who tries to return something they purchased at a garage sale? Perhaps they slept on it that night and thought, “Nope, damnit that .50 cent purchase was not at all what I wanted and I’m going back to demand a refund.” Who knows, maybe they were trying to return good junk.

I thought I would try one more sale before heading back to my abode. I scanned the host of items and seemed to find most of the “regulars”; books, movies, clothes, toys. And then my eyes hit on the back of the garage and naturally I gravitated there. On display in the back of the garage was a stockpile of toiletries ranging from shampoo to deodorant and dish detergent to antibacterial spray. Please note though, these items were not used. They were brand spanking new. As though this humble man had gone up to the local grocery and bought a case of each item to sell. Question mark. I thought the point of garage sales was to sell used items? Now, I frequent the local grocery store also so I’m aware of what the grocer charges for these items and this scam artist had marked up these toiletries by at least 50%. And yet there was some sap standing next to me buying a bottle of Dawn dish soap. Perhaps he will accept coupons though?

I decided to go home after that.


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