I’ve never had my own garage sale before. I’ve only helped out my folks a little bit when they had one. The thought of having a garage sale made me want to puke. It sounded like a big hassle and way too much work. I’d rather just donate the things that had some value and pitch the rest. And with Aya being Japanese, the whole garage sale concept was completely foreign to her. “People sell their old junk? And there’s people who pay money for it!?” But last fall my parents held a garage sale and we included a few items of our’s after we cleaned the basement, and we made forty bucks! Feeling that cash in my hands felt great and I wanted more. If we made forty bucks just selling that small amount of junk, how much could we make if we cleaned out the garage, the basement, and the kitchen!? We decided then that we would hold our own garage sale in the spring.
Our city has a ‘City Wide Garage Sale’in the spring every year. You get a special issue sign to put in your yard and your address gets put on the map with all the others. This helps because you’re guaranteed some traffic since everyone is out garage sale shopping. But since spring was taking forever to show up, we kind of forgot about garage sale season. And when we did remember, we kept procrastinating and procrastinating… and procrastinating. The week before the garage sale my mom kept asking, “How’s it going? Do you need any help?” We hadn’t really started anything actually…hopefully tomorrow, I’d say. As the days passed and the date got closer, we still did nothing. Finally, on Friday, the day before the sale, we had to do something.
My mom had agreed to watch Ellie so I could clean the garage during the day. I don’t think I had been in the garage since sometime in the fall. Maybe the last time I cut the grass in November? Yikes. I had a lot of work to do. Once Aya got home and we fed, bathed, and put Ellie to sleep, we would start pricing things and putting stuff out. We didn’t start that until 9:00pm. Yep, the day before the garage sale. Ugh, this was a bad idea.
As I started doing my part, it didn’t seem that bad. We didn’t have all that much stuff it seemed like. We’d be in bed my midnight, I thought. But when I went back in the house, Aya had brought up a ton of things from the basement. And then she disappeared into the depths of her pink closet only to return with a mountain of shoes, sweaters, and purses that no longer made the cut. Oh man, this was going to be a long night.
As we started pricing things it seemed to go fast. Everything was hovering between the 25 cents and a dollar range. But then that feeling of attachment to random objects showed up making it more difficult to price. A lot of this stuff was junk, but it was my junk. It had to be worth more than a dollar. I remembered many road trips with that Sony Discman, sitting in the backseat of the car staring out the window jamming to the soundtrack from The Last Action Hero. Sure it didn’t work anymore but I’m sure some old guy wearing suspenders and a hat with buttons all over it will need it. He’d pay at least a buck for it, right? Sometime a little after 3:00am, I nodded off on the couch with pricing stickers in one hand, and a Gremlin beanie baby in the other.
The garage sale officially started at 9:00am Saturday morning, so when I got up at 6:30am I was cranky, hungry, and not wanting to host a garage sale. Not to mention it was raining too. Somehow we managed to get all the stuff out from the living room to the garage and properly displayed on tables and racks. Luckily my mom was coming over to help us out too.
About fifteen minutes after being open for business, I already wanted to drop the prices. Let’s reduce the prices to half right now! Aya and my mom objected. Fine. So I sat there grumpy, eating day old bagels wanting to give stuff away. You kind of like it? Just take it. Hurry while no one is looking!
One thing I didn’t like about the garage sale was the small talk. I’m not the greatest at it to begin with. I can do it when I’m prepared for it, but with only three and half hours of sleep I wasn’t capable of having playful banter about the crappy weather. My mom and Aya were great at it. They both had nice warm smiles and genuine questions about people’s days or other garage sales they’ve been to. I could give the polite “hello,” but that was about it. Once in awhile I’d say something brilliant like, how bout’that rain?
The other thing that stressed me out was the mental math. Nothing was priced less than a quarter specifically for math reasons. But even then, when someone approached me with a pile of stuff I panicked. Someone’s total was $3.75 and they handed me a five dollar bill. I stared at her and she stared me back. Whoever was in my mind had stepped out for a drink, and my mind was blank. I embarrassedly reached for the calculator while saying; I just want to be sure my mind is kind of blank right now. Where’s my Asian math wizard wife now?(she really isn’t…I’m just stereotyping)
The second day of the garage sale was worse. The temperature had dropped to 42 degrees and it was raining. And it was 82 degrees two days before! What happened!? This was the month of May, right? We were going to need donuts.
This was going to be a tough sell. I started out with everything half off. And then after 30 minutes I wanted to drop everything to 25 cents. But my mom and Aya convinced me to hold off again for a few hours and to only drop it to 50 cents. We were all cold and miserable sitting in my not heated garage which felt like the middle of December.
Despite the weather, people were still coming out. And buying things! Man, there are some dedicated, hardcore garage salers. How could you not buy something when everything was 50 cents though? We were moving a fair amount of goods at the lower prices which is what I wanted to do, just get rid of it. But by 3:00pm, things had really slowed down and I wanted to close shop. (The official closing time was 4:00pm) And again, my mom talked me out of it saying that sometimes people come in at the last minute and those are the ones who buy a lot of stuff! And she was right. At the very end, we caught a break.
It wasn’t so much about how much money we made, as it was more about just getting rid of things. This lady came in so excited about the stuff we had. She loved Aya’s purses and clothes, and the random books we had from college. She had a hard time deciding what she wanted to pick. What she had so far totaled about 3 bucks so I told her for five dollars she could take whatever she wanted. “Really!?” Yes, five bucks, take what you want. It’s less for us to pack up and take to the Salvation Army. She packed up about four or five bags worth of stuff. Purses, picture frames, books, belts, shirts. “Merry Christmas!” Aya said. She was probably the friendliest, most appreciative customer we had too. At least someone was going to appreciate those things.
I guess it’s true; one man’s trash is another man’s treasure… if the price is right.
We ended up making a decent amount of money which was surprising since we lowered are prices so early. I wanted to spend the money immediately on food to celebrate. And then with whatever was left, go out for a really nice meal, and get dessert and coffee and the works. But Aya wanted to spend it on lame things like getting all the winter coats dry cleaned. Seriously, that was top on her list.
But after all, she is Japanese and doesn’t understand the concept of a garage sale, so I think I should get to make this decision.