Friday, May 23, 2008

Anatomy of a Garage Sale!

We recently participated in a neighborhood garage sale. It was held on an abnormally hot day (for Seattle, think 90's), which generally makes for a larger crowd. It's an unusual slice of American pie, this garage sale crowd. You wake early for the 9 a.m. start, but as soon as that garage door is lifted, the early-bird shoppers are already circling like buzzards over your discarded wares. These are the veterans - they know what they're looking for and they're in and out in a flash. No browsing, just some fast picking through your still-unpriced items and if they find a treasure, they scoop it up (likely for a bargain price!) and if not, they move swiftly on to the next unlucky soul who dared to open his garage door early.
Then, there are the breed of ladies, aged 50-70 or so, who come in packs. This sisterhood arrives late morning, looking for nothing in particular, but squealing in delight when they spot a used onesie for the new grandbaby. They want for nothing, but take pleasure in the kill when they snatch up an old ice bucket or woven rug. They buy linens, old lamps, dishes, anything that smacks of domesticity, and pay for their purchases with crumpled bills and loose change pulled out of clasp change purses.
The kids are a different breed altogether. They ponder over discarded toys, unloved books and the occasional ratty stuffed animal. Begging their parents for a dollar, they clutch their purchases in sweaty hands and scan every "free" box available for more loot.
Then, there is the lady (man?) who comes late in the afternoon, alone, looking disheveled and grizzled. She paws over each and every item, with nary a nod or hello, then leaves with a grunt.
Men are funny. They are looking for one thing and one thing only - GUY STUFF! This constitutes tools, trailer hitches, bent and rusty car ramps, and the occasional rake. Like the hunters they are, they move in quickly for the kill. If there's no prey about, no motorcycle parts, no old generators, they move on. No browsing.
There are the ones for whom English is not their first language. They always look surprised and delighted when I ask "Quieres una bolsa para sus cosas?" And they always leave with a "Gracias, mi amiga!"
This particular garage sale was no exception. We had the requisite "bake sale". The younger kids always want to sell goods so I found myself late the night before the sale baking cinnamon streusel coffee cake, raspberry scones, peanut butter/chocolate bars and vanilla brownies. I mixed up two batches of lemonade (no, I did not squeeze the lemons!) and the young entrepeneurs went to work. They lasted, wilting in the sun, until mid-day when they left for birthday parties and baseball games. The scones sweated in their plastic wrap and the lemonade warmed to a steamy temperature. Total take: $28.75.
The garage sale was a different story. We netted $153.00. Which is about half of what we usually make. Which left us asking, again, WHY do we do this? Maybe it's not about the money. Maybe, in the end, it's more about the people watching.

1 comment:

Mimi/Papa said...

OK, we've read your blog at least six times....GET SOMETHING NEW ON HERE!!!!!! Love you!! Mom and Dad!