The Zen of Garage Sales

By Marie Bruce

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Who knew there was Zen in garage sales?

It was the final clear-out of a mammoth downsize into a small apartment.  I gave away as much as anyone wanted -- my children left with loaded trucks. Still, when I looked around there was “stuff” everywhere.  

I hated to face another garage sale but there was nothing else I could do so I put the ad in the local paper and ploughed ahead.  

For the previous two weeks I had been putting heaps of “stuff” into my garage – the pile was not exactly rubbish but things  no one wanted.  Things like fondue pots, gift-boxed chop sticks, more glasses and mugs than I could count. Bits of dinner services, casseroles and baking dishes.  Several  rucksacks, outdoor gear, bike saddles, etc.

Then there were the books, shelves of them.  I've been donating books now for two years but still there were more. 

I had  a chesterfield, desks, shelving and mirrors, etc.  Scarves and shawls, ski jackets and snow boots just to mention a few but the piece de resistance was a vintage leopard coat, very stylish but a bit crisp and badly stored.  

The day dawned sunny and I had scads of helpers and coffee on tap. 

Several buyers arrived early and we knew they were dealers on the lookout for treasures. They picked up a few things.  I didn't price anything - there was just too much stuff.  I asked my helpers to come up with a price. Most things were a dollar.  I was a bit peeved when I saw a pair of new towels going for one dollar but that was the price Terry decided upon. 

At some point I noticed quite a group of people hanging around chatting and admiring my garden, the location of my house (cul-de-sac) and the good weather. 

Several people hung around for over an hour and painstakingly lifted every item and carefully examined it.  One man checked out a little table – good for holding drinks – he turned it over, checked its legs for strength. One might think he was buying a new car – the table was one dollar.  

It is quite interesting people watching. I felt I was at a garden party  - the sunny day, the chatty helpers and lots of interesting, albeit my discarded, “stuff” to rummage though.  Now I understand garage sales, they are part of suburban life, almost like a village fete, and offer a Saturday morning outing, a chance to rummage through our neighbours rubbish and maybe nab a good deal.

It is all very harmless and mostly enjoyable. The home owner gets rid of unwanted “stuff,” the buyers chat and hang around and everyone has a good time.

Sales were brisk. My old linen was snapped up and the crispy leopard skin coat went for $20  – the woman who bought it said she would wear it mowing her lawn on a chilly day.  I hadn't thought of that myself – preferring to wear my puffy jacket.  Mirrors and pictures and mugs, etc., were all bought and disappeared up the driveway, much to my relief. 

My chesterfield and bookshelves didn't sell but most of the knick knacks were gone.   It was easy to pack up the leftovers into a few boxes for pickup by Canadian Diabetes on the following Monday. 

So the garage sale was a great success and I made just under $400.

Having said all that, I vowed that was my last garage sale and from now on I will bypass all the signs beckoning me to any sale – I am not going to be tempted with one unnecessary purchase, not even a book. I will keep my little apartment clutter free and remember back to my nightmare of downsizing. The actual garage sale was the fun part.

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