The warmer weather has sprouted up the first signs of spring: red-breasted robins, budded trees – and, of course, garage sales.
No one loves lawn-based retail more than my dear husband. He is often late to summertime activities because he will stop at 100% of all lemonade stands on the way – which is very sweet, both literally and figuratively, and also means that someone has to drink a quart of lemonade every time we get in the car. We have an oft-repeated conversation that always begins with, “Let’s leave that free couch/broken Apple IIe/airplane propeller for someone who really needs it.” I want to paint our kitchen cabinets and Kyle is fighting it because he correctly thinks it will turn into a much larger project. I’m convinced that if I go and buy the paint and put it on the neighbor’s yard with a $1 sign, I’ll have a new kitchen by the end of the summer.
But for as much as Kyle finds joy in digging through a table marked “Everything $0.25!”, his real passion is in sales. This poses a challenge when living on a private country road where the vast majority of foot traffic belongs to our own children and a family of geese – which is why I’d like to take a trip down memory lane to the second-to-last time Kyle set up the card tables and sold some of our crap awesome stuff.
It was the summer of 2007. My parents had relocated to the Cities, and Kyle and I had moved into their condo so as to give my husband some extra room to study for the bar exam (and give my mom and dad the opportunity to abandon ship on all of the crap awesome stuff my sister and I had saved from high school).
I was sitting on the front porch doing something important when Kyle popped his head out the door and said, “I found some more boxes in the storage room. We should really have a garage sale.”
And I said, “I’ll just take it all to the Salvation Army.”
And he said, “By Salvation Army, do you mean garage sale?”
And before I could say, “Where’d you get that price gun,” he had a bunch of tables set up in the garage and a cash box filled with a float.
You’d think that I would be the first to suit up in a fanny pack full of used plastic grocery bags (for the big buyers) – but in truth, I stink at garage sales. I am an awkward haggler, for one; I mark prices based on what I think items are worth (Everything $0.25!), and so when someone tries to barter lower, I panic and give it to them for free. Two, when I am tasked with selling something in the “real” world, I really go for it, which is counterintuitive to the aforementioned barter system. To be really successful at garage sales-ing you need to be able to sit and look disinterested and disengaged so as to say, “I really don’t care if you buy that or not,” instead of, “Please take this away, I’m so excited to have it out of my possession.”
So, because of that, I half-heartedly gathered up a few things and started sticking $0.25 labels on them until Kyle blessedly relieved me of my duties and put me in charge of making signs.
“Write ‘Garage Sale’ and our address,” he told me, handing me a sharpie.
“What day? And what hours?” I asked.
“Don’t worry about that part,” he said.
Kyle was up and at’em the next morning. He dragged his tables out onto the driveway, stuck the signs on a few neighboring corners, and set up a lawn chair in the garage next to his cash box, his bar exam study guides, and a cooler. I brought him a bowl of cereal as the first customers rolled up.
Kyle had a few more unusual items of note in addition to the usual knick-knacks often found at garage sales, including:
- Three toilet seats. My parents had apparently changed the toilet seats when they moved into the condo (we are a very classy family) and had saved the originals “just in case.” Cost: $1.00 each.
- Four formerly-broken charcoal grills. Kyle had found said grills on the side of the road earlier that spring and had fixed them up. Cost: $5.00 each.
- A box of dissociated electronics cords. Cost: $0.50 each.
- Kyle’s sense of satisfaction. Cost: Priceless.
“No one is going to want this awesome stuff crap,” I had said to Kyle the evening prior.
The toilet seats sold before nine o’clock in the morning. The grills were out by lunchtime. The last barbecue was carted away to a college student who emptied his pocket of change and Kyle called it good.
At the end of the day, I helped Kyle bring the tables back inside and then made a move to take down the signs. Kyle stopped me.
“The garage sale isn’t over yet,” he said.
I looked around; the amount of goods had reduced by half.
“How long are you going to do this?” I asked.
“Until it’s gone,” he said.
It took a week. It would have been faster, but Kyle kept finding more broken stuff on the side of the road and fixing it up to sell. All told, he made $300 and passed the bar exam on the first go.
Anyways, Kyle had a moving sale a few years later but that one was only a day because we had a new baby and the overall tone was much more, “Take our stuff so we can go back to looking at this little human.”
The photo above is Kyle with one of two roadside items (the other was a bench) that he found, fixed up, and kept instead of selling. As you can see, he’s very pleased with himself it.
This week’s news has an art festival, discount insulin, and a population boom. Read on.
The James Memorial Art Center has a new ash wood bench, courtesy of the Williston Area Woodworkers Club, to honor past woodworkers. (Williston Herald)
Guess what? North Dakota is one of only five states to see population growth over the past ten years – bumping up over 106,000 from 2010 to 2020. (Grand Forks Herald)
Minot’s Frankie McDowell has created a non-profit called Minot Insulin Services to help save diabetics a little money on their pharmaceuticals. (KX Net)
The Arts Center in Jamestown is hosting its fourth annual North Dakota Human Rights Art Festival, which includes “2D, 3D, filmmakers, and live performance artists from around the world.” (Jamestown Sun)
A Fargo restaurant has tapped local potters to create its dishware to make the pottery more acceptable. (Fargo Forum)
(Like Amanda Silverman Kosior and/or North Dakota Nice? Check out this other story about a fairy princess.)
4 thoughts on “Garage Sale | NNoTW April 29, 2021”
We had an annual garage sale for the non-profit I ran. Two of the team members were garage sale champions and helped us turn a huge mound of junk into about $2,000 each year. We called the sale items “treasures.” This weekend the town where we live has its citywide garage sale. I’ll be looking for a chair to replace the one I broke. My wife will be restraining me (thank God!) defining the terms “need” and “want.”
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Your wife and I need t-shirts for this type of job – protecting our spouses from too many “treasures.” 🙂
Our extended family and a few neighbors had a blast last year so for the second year in a row we are gathering up our awesome stuff in the garage for the big reveal in a couple weeks. Meanwhile, we’re doing our best to avoid the temptation of “curb-side pickup .”
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Neighborhood garage sales are one of the most underrated inventions of our generation.