Garage Sale People

“Lisa, you need to get up, the crazy people will be here soon.”

It was 6:15 AM, day two of our garage sale. It was supposed to be a one day affair, but we’d been forced into business a day earlier when I posted a sign around the corner. A lady in a red sports car beat me home.

“Is this the garage sale?”

What could I say? So we let her in to see things. Lisa and I were mostly done organizing and pricing so technically we could entertain customers. A short while later two guys who were cutting the grass next door came by. I mentioned I was selling tools and invited them into our living room where the display was waiting to be heaved on to the front driveway.

They were excited. “Oooooh, you got a grinder for $15! Wow, that’s a nice drill for how much…$20! Man, we got to tell the boss. I wish we had our paychecks.” They left early with assuring promises to return later.

There’s something about a garage sale that does something to you. People who can afford and do afford to buy themselves anything they want in the world will haggle with you over dollars and cents.

“You want $2 for this rake?” as if it were some kind of outrage to pass on a lawn tool at 10 cents on the dollar. “I’ll give you $1 for it.”

I stared incredulously, thinking, “Do you really need a $1 rake? Are you really so hard up that you need to haggle over $1?”

“I’ll take a buck and half, no less.”

You have the privilege of meeting a wide spectrum of the social classes at garage sales and some who are clearly inclined to some sort of hoarding disorder. When someone needs the help of three other adults to haul their loot to the car you know they’ve bought too much.

Lisa said to me, “She really didn’t even look at the stuff. She just piled it all up. It was $90!” It takes a lot of garage sale stuff to make up $50.

I could go on about the oddities of garage sale people. Anyone who has held a garage sale could tell the same stories. But, one of them typified the day for me.

It was toward the end of the day when one of my friends came to the garage sale with her husband. He was interested in an old fluorescent light we used for camping. It had fallen on the floor at one point during our travels and had busted open. We held it together with duct tape.

He picked it up and I was frank about its dim future.

He looked at me earnestly, “How much do you want for it?”

“Well, I’ve got it priced at $1. It’s broken, but the batteries inside it are worth at least $1.” I opened it and found no batteries.

“Look, I’m just going to chuck this thing.”

“You said you wanted $1 for it?”



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