Garage sale adventures

So, garage sales, hands up who hates them? That would be me. But a garage sale was today’s great adventure.

We live in a block of ten units and a few weeks ago I got invited by unit 8 to join them in a garage sale. We were all going to do it. Well, we were all invited to join in anyway. I went to the meeting in at the request of the lady in number 8, the ladies in number 9 and number 6 joined us, and together we laid our plans.

Number 6 was going to write an invitation note for all the 10 units and post it in the mail boxes. She was also going to make contact with the people that we knew never checked their mail boxes – the mail boxes are up the top of the driveway and we only check ours once a week or so, it’s steep to walk up.

Number 9 was responsible for making posters and putting them up around the streets. I was asked to make posters directing people through our little block to the units down the bottom of the driveway.

Number 8 was delegating. She was brilliant at delegating. She was the big picture person. She had us all organised, truly. And she also worked on the online marketing. It turned out that the date we had decided on was part of a nation-wide movement for garage sales. The Garage Sale Trail day. We thought that would bring more people through (turns out, not so much, we didn’t get too many customers at all).

I also offered to get some tables. That meant that I offered to get DH to go to church and get the tables.

Then I came home and told DH and DS about it. It was ok, I think, they took it ok at first. Then I suggested that over their school holidays they could look for things around the house to sell. Things started to go downhill from that point.

You see, we don’t really hang on to things. We give things away that we don’t want, we use things until they die and then we throw them away. I haven’t been in to storing unnecessary stuff since I first read The Messie’s Manual by Sandra Felton (now called Messie No More). Even DD sorts through her stuff every time she comes home and throws more away. DH had said that he would sort through things under the house during the holidays and I thought that would mean that we would have stuff to sell but actually it meant that we had a trailer load of stuff for the tip and not much to sell at all. Unless I wanted to hold on to a 20 year old potty for when our grandchildren were toilet training. Would you? I think I’ll invest in a new one when and if I need it!

So we had very little to sell and we started to wonder whether this would be worth it. I did a bit of scratching around and found a few mugs, a few baby toys, and some old picture frames but that was it. DS gave me some hope when he said that he could sort through his bedroom. That resulted in a big tub of rubbish to throw out and a handful of items to sell. DH was doing mental arithmetic to see whether we could just give up now and not worry about it.

But we had committed. We were going through with this.

The day before the big sale I fielded text messages while at work from various units in the block, DH brought a dozen tables up from church, kept two in our carport and stashed the rest in the garage of number 8 for collection. DS finished sorting through his toys. And in the evening DS and I painted colourful pieces of poster paper with signs saying ‘Garage Sale’ and ‘More this way’ and ‘Keep going!’ because units 6, 8, and 9 are down the bottom of the block and we needed to get prospective customers to walk all the way down the driveway. Actually, I painted all those signs and DS painted one sign saying ‘No Cars Please’ with a picture of a car with a cross through it. It was the most beautifully and carefully painted of all the signs. It took him twice as long to paint as it took me to paint my five signs and I remembered that he’s a perfectionist but I stayed patient and enjoyed the conversation.

‘What time does it start?’ asked DH on the big day as we sat in bed and sipped our morning coffee and tea.

‘9am’ says I.

‘Half an hour to get ready, and half an hour to set up then’ says he and we dragged our tired bodies out of bed.

About twenty minutes after that he raced downstairs to tell me that it started at 830am and that we needed to put the signs up quick smart! Yes, the flyer, dutifully stuck on our fridge, did say 830am start. But I hadn’t bothered reading it.

We had beautiful spring weather today. Thirteen degrees, periodic showers, occasional lazy breezes, and warm sunshine (when it could find its way out of the clouds). We got the signs up before the rain hit again. Then I dashed inside to get a beanie to keep my ears warm and artistically spread my tiny stash of loot out on our two tables.

Our drive is pretty steep and people didn’t enjoy the ‘no cars’ rule. One family got as far as the second downhill stretch and gave up and walked back up and away. Everyone complained about the walk and some suggested that we sell coffee instead of loot or at least offer drinking water for people.

DH and I stood under the carport, nursing hot drinks, and marvelling at the huge dump of snow we could see on the mountain. Periodically we would say good morning to people as they strolled down our driveway. They would spend thirty seconds wafting their gaze over our stuff and then we would tell them that there was loads more down the driveway and they would move on. I’m not sure if we were an encouragement or a hindrance. You know how one man’s trash is another man’s treasure? Well it looked like our trash was another man’s trash.

But we had a great time chatting in between customers. It felt a bit like camping, really. You know, when you’re cold and uncomfortable but there’s no way to do anything about it so you just put up with it and comment on how nice and warm the sun is? When you can feel it, that is. (Not a big fan of camping, here.)

We sold stuff. We did. We made seven dollars. Three dollars more and we would have covered the costs of the poster paper.

But we weren’t really in it for the money. In fact, we weren’t in it for money at all. One of the reasons we like living where we live is that we are part of a little community. We like the people in the units around us, and we like to build the community feel that we have. We have a Christmas barbecue at Christmas time, and we make our Body Corporate meetings more like parties with lots of food and hot drinks and chatting around the fire. And when the one of the families had a baby he belonged to all of us. And this garage sale idea seemed like another great way to build more community and that’s why we did it.

From that perspective the day was a huge success. We ‘sold’ stuff until we had had enough, then I packed all the remaining loot into the boot of my car and took it to the Salvos. But after the others were finished we all met down the end of the driveway and broke open a bottle of champagne and ate nibblies together – nuts and chips – and chatted about the stuff we’d sold and the stuff we hadn’t and about the various customers that we’d had. Add that to the time making posters with DS and the long slow chats in the sun with DH and I think that the whole day was totally worthwhile.

Just don’t mention garage sales to me for a while, ok?

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