Garage Sale Memories

Garage sales were regular extended family events during my childhood. Once a year my mom’s family would a huge garage sale. Some years it was at our house, but after my Aunt Bev moved to a house on a corner lot with good traffic the sale moved to her home.

There was a routine to the sale. Whoever was hosting the event would make signs with magic marker and poster board to be placed around the neighborhood on Friday. Friday night everyone would bring their stuff to the sale site. We usually did this with my mom’s siblings’ families, Aunt Bev and Uncle Bob, and her parents, Nonnie and Bompie (to us grandkids). We would be up late organizing the assorted glassware, unneeded children’s toys and clothing, tools and yard care items. The adult’s work seemed to be accompanied by a box of wine, if my memory serves me right.

Several different methods of pricing were used throughout the years—colored stickers seemed to work best. My grandfather was meticulous in organization and insistence on fairness in banking. He was always in charge of keeping track of what was sold. He carefully created columns on lined notebook paper and labeled each column with a family’s name. As every item was sold he would record the item and the amount in the proper column to make sure everyone received their share at the end of the day.

Saturday morning began with doughnuts. The moms and kids (and sometimes dads) went to the sale site prepared for a long day. For us kids it was exciting for the first hour or so. Then we played with our cousins in the backyard or basement rec room. At least until mom would get tired of us underfoot and call dad to come and get us.

The adults tended to leave one in charge while the rest sat around the patio table drinking coffee and sharing the latest family gossip. Many stories of previous garage sales were retold. Periodically the sales monitor would call into the house for one of the others. “Bev, someone is here who wants your iron. She is offering $2, you better talk to her.”

Bev, or whoever’s item was under discussion would go do the serious bargaining. After the sale was made there would inevitably be a fifteen-minute discussion about whether or not it had been let go too cheaply. Then throughout the rest of the day the best and worst sales would be rehashed, “Joyce, I still think you shouldn’t have gone down to $3.50 for that bassinet.”

By the end of the day we still seemed to have a garage and driveway full of old stuff. The dads would show up and pack everything up to take home for storage until the next sale. Sometimes we would all have a bar-b-que together which gave us time to rehash the sales of the day and my grandfather would portion out the profits.

I’m thinking of this because we are having a church family yard sale tomorrow. It looks like we will have a break in the rain, so the sale is on. Remember to bring your stuff at 8:00 AM to set-up. As each family is doing their own sale you need to bring change, bags, and a tablecloth. Also, please drop off your stuff and then park in the school lot to make room for our many shoppers.

If you aren’t selling, but sure to stop and shop. I think we have 15 families setting up tables to sell. I’m there will be many great bargains. We will also have the awarding of the first Pastor’s prize for best yard sale display. I promise a true treasure for the winner.

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