Here in Omaha, we’re winding down with Garage Sale season. After all, it’s mid-November, and Nebraska can be downright cold and snowy this time of year. But the weather lately has been mild, and we managed to squeak in a garage sale just a couple of weeks ago.
Now, the women in my family have this garage sale thing down to a science. We know what we have to do, and we all take turns doing it. We almost always have our sales in spring, before school gets out. And our secret weapon is my sister’s house. And I mean secret with a capital ‘S’.
She lives on a corner on a busy through-street, across from a school, and catty-wampus from a church and pre-school. This corner gets TRAFFIC. All we have to do is put up a few signs and balloons and folks come calling. Even better, we’ve developed a reputation over the years that this multi-family of mine has good STUFF to sell. And we sell it cheap.
Now note that I am so not a garage saler. I love having them (most of the time), but I never, ever go to them. It’s just not my thing. But folks love them, and they come to ours in all ages and nationalities.
Every garage sale has it’s own personality, and we’ve been at this so long, we’ve accumulated quite a few stories to tuck under our belts. Here’s a few:
**Like the time when a twenty-something young man bought my daughter’s coat. This was when girls liked the baggy, masculine look, and her coat was a good fit for him. He bought it for a few bucks and left. Well, you can imagine my surprise when he came back a little while later with a big grin on his face. He proceeded to tell me he’d found two $20 bills in the pocket. And he wasn’t there to give them back, either.
I gasped in shock. “Shame on you. My daughter worked HARD for that money!”
He only smirked. “Finders-keepers.”
And he walked off. I just wanted to smack that arrogant smirk right off him. The mother in me really thought he should’ve returned the money.
*I* would have. I think. Would you?
**Another of my sisters sold her husband’s snow blower. It was a big one, and a city employee had bought it. But he couldn’t lift it, nor could he fit it into his vehicle, so a short time later, he returned with an official City of Omaha bobcat, lowered the bucket and scooped that snowblower right in. It was funny seeing the bobcat lumber off with the snowblower.
**One year, we had so much traffic, cars were parked on both sides of the street and other cars couldn’t get through. A cop happened by, pulled over and got the street cleared again. Then he figured as long as he was there, he’d have himself a look around. He drove off with my dad’s sawhorses in the trunk.
**At this last sale, a female bus driver pulled up and opened the bus’ door.
“Is that a dog bed you got there?” she called.
My sister walked toward her. “Yes.”
“I can’t get off the bus, and no one can get on. Hold it up so I can see it.”
Barb did–and held up a cat’s bed, too.
“I’ll take them.”
Sold! And the buyer never left her steering wheel.
**Likewise, a young woman of color and her friend stopped at the end of the driveway. The friend got out and moseyed through our treasures, but she didn’t get far before the young woman called from the open car window.
“What’s in the bag?”
Now this was a very non-descript vinyl bag. I have no idea why she even noticed the thing, let alone wanted to know what was inside it.
“I’ll take it.”
Her friend paid the $2 for her. She never got out of the car, never looked the mattress over, never even touched it–or asked any more questions.
If she had, we would’ve told her the mattress had a teensy little leak that was just about impossible to find. Oh, well. I guess whomever slept on it would know all about that leak when they woke up in the morning.
**Another secret weapon is my 75-year-old mother. She takes our garage sales seriously, and she considers every person who steps foot in the driveway as a potential sale. She’s quick to ask what they’re looking for, and if they’re only browsing, she’ll suggest any number of our treasures for them to buy. She’s our best salesman, even if she’s a bit pushy.
The last few hours before our garage sales end, we sell everything half-price. It’s funny watching my mother sell our stuff to unsuspecting Hispanics, and if they don’t speak English, well, it’s beyond hilarious.
“HALF-PRICE,” she yells, waving her arms up and down, trying to make them understand. “EVERYTHING HALF-PRICE. CAPISCE?“
She’s so intent on trying to communicate, she doesn’t realize she’s speaking one of the few Italian words she knows, and if the good-hearted Mexicans noticed, or understood her mistake, or took offense from her posturing, they never let-on. And yes, Hispanics are some of our best customers.
**Then there are those warm fuzzy moments when our cast-offs truly are someone’s treasure. This year’s sale happened to fall on Halloween, and a young couple came to a screeching halt in front of the driveway.
“Are those Power Rangers costumes hanging over there?” the woman shouted.
She squealed and jumped out of the car, her male companion right on her heels. She took one look at the two costumes, still with their tags on, and whipped out a couple of $5 bills.
“We’ve been looking everywhere for these, and costumes are sooo expensive. Oh, thank you!”
We had no idea if the sizes happened to be what she was looking for. We suspect she was just so glad to have them for her little boys, she’d MAKE them fit. Yeah, we basked in the warm glow of that sale.
So how about you? Are you an ardent bargain finder? Love having garage sales? Love going to them? Have a story to tell? Please share!
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