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Sunday June 11, 2006 // By Sandy

Scenes from a garage sale

The neighborhood association asks our building if we want to participate in the yearly sale. On one hand, it’s a yearly tradition; on the other, the building has 100% fewer kids in it than it did last year, and their old clothes made up 50% of the sales. We say yes anyway. There’s got to be enough between all of us to fill a garage.

Upon further inquiry, only two units want to participate, and that includes us. Then we learn Sarah’s college reunion is that weekend, and we cancel the whole thing. A couple hours of airfare research later, I’m no longer being taken to show off to old college chums, and thus available to man the sale. It’s back on.

Sifting through our closets and cabinets, we find plenty of possessions that have jumped their sharkiness, but we’re obliged to hang on to them for at least a few more months. Come September, and we’re brimming with new toasters and cookware, we’ll finally be able to chuck them.

I set the alarm for 7:15 so I have ample time to prep for the 10:00 opening. The radio clicks on with the unlikely forecast of mid-50s, rainy and windy—one of the lowest June 10ths ever. When I open the garage door to a tableau of rain and nastiness, I run a quick cost-benefit analysis in my head and consider putting the kaibosh on the whole thing, though ultimately figure that there’ll be enough bargain hunters willing to brave the rain, thinking all their competition will be staying home where it’s dry. It’s a smart move. By 10:00 the rain has stopped. By 11:00 the sun pities us and shines down.

I put out an old DVD player that has stopped working. I price it at $5 with a tag that says “Does Not Play” and figure some electronics enthusiast will consider it a bargain and take it. It’s gone within an hour.

The 90-year-old Russian lady with too much lipstick, upon hearing an item’s price, writhes her face in disgust and probably considers spitting at us. She asks for half, and we agree. “Good price, good sale,” she mutters, then takes out her $1.50, kisses it, and hands it over. This happens no less than seven times.

A woman eyes our IKEA drawer set and dials a friend. I overhear: “I’m at this garage sale. I’ve found something I think you can decoupage.”

I leave managing duties to my neighbor for a while and wander around the neighborhood. I immediately find a cache of beautiful old cigar boxes, especially tempting since my pockets are full of newly acquired cash. I end up buying four.

A woman asks how much we’re pricing the yarn. I tell her a dollar per skein, except I actually say “a dollar per thing.” “Per skein?” “Uh, yeah. And I’ll give you a deal if you buy the whole lot.” We get $20 for all twenty-five things.

A young lady picks up and examines a small pocketknife. A moment later, our neighbor is running upstairs to fetch some disinfectant and a band-aid. She doesn’t buy the knife.

We keep it to a one-day sale, except for the last hour on Sunday, during which I’m packing things up. A neighbor picks up the scent of rock-bottom deals and wanders over. She ends up spending ten bucks on some clothes, a purse and a suitcase. Later I pass her husband on the street. He look at me resignedly. “We bought as much shit as we sold.”

Posted by Kathleen Kilpatrick // Jun 13, 21:33
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