The first is probably obvious–it’s an easy way to make some extra cash. I still remember the first garage sale that I made a significant amount of money doing. One Spring weekend morning, back in 1992, my husband was on a trip with the teenagers from our church, and I was home with our two small children. A neighbor was having a garage sale of their own and it was attracting a lot of traffic to our neighborhood. I was up early (refer back to the “two small children and husband out of town” part) and I saw the minivans full of customers piling out of their vehicles, grabbing their treasures and leaving their money with my neighbor. My mind was fully aware of the state of our small bank account, so I wondered if this might be a great opportunity. I hurried into the garage and started pulling out items that we had once dragged all the way to Illinois and, now back to California. I opened the garage and within a few moments had money lining my pockets. I felt like a Proverbs 31 woman, bringing in money for my family! Of course, I am not sure how “noble” my husband thought I was, when he got home from his retreat and I told him I had sold two of his college dorm room treasures–his electric typewriter and his turntable stereo.
The second reason I love garage sales is the freedom that comes with the removal of clutter. I despise clutter. I feel clutter in the deepest parts of me when I am stressed. I have often wondered if this may be a psychological disorder — how a cluttered room can affect me, but since I have no intention of taking medication for it, my clutter disorder doesn’t need a clever name. There are times when I am struggling with an increased anxiety level and I look around my home and I will tell my husband, “Everything is a disaster”. Now, in the grand scheme of things–EVERYTHING is NOT a disaster, and I am beginning to recognize that the messy clutter I think is going on in the house, may be going on in my mind. (side note: for those of you who have not been to my house, I am NOT a clean freak–I kinda wish I were because then the house would be as clean as my mind wants it to be.) I know that God is bigger than the stress that clutter can bring and I know that I can’t have a completely clutter free environment but I can help relieve some of the stress by removing some extra “stuff” whenever possible. Pulling things out of the piles and the closets and throwing them into the “garage sale pile” gives me a sense of relief.
I imagine, these first two reasons are the common reasons that most people bother getting up at the crack of dawn to push the button on their garage door opener and allow the rest of the world into their car’s room. But, I have one more. My third and final reason for loving garage sales is the people I meet. Every time I have opened my door to the world on these early mornings I have met a few incredible people. Don’t get me wrong, there are still the “whack-jobs” out in the morning (like the lady who bartered a purse down to the bargain price of 50 cents and then while walking to her car, inspected it and came back to tell me the zipper was broken, which of course it wasn’t, it was just twisted, but even if it had been…”you just gave me 2 quarters for it, and I will keep it if is going to cause you that much stress”) But, I am talking about the people who I may have never had the chance to meet. I am talking about the “treasures” that they find, and the joy that they express when finding it. I get to be a part of that. I get to contribute to their experience in a positive way. This morning, as my husband had just pulled his very old ban-saw out of the garage, a middle aged woman approached our tables looking at snow globes and nonchalantly stated, “What I really want is a ban-saw”. I paused, thinking she was teasing us about the enormous piece of hardware standing just 10 feet from her. When she didn’t chuckle at her own joke, I asked her if she was joking. She said she wasn’t and at that moment, my husband, my son and I all turned our heads toward the saw.
“You mean, like that?” I asked.
She was so excited that she screamed. Apparently, she had been looking for sometime. How could she know that we, her neighbors just around the corner, had one waiting for her.
But, here is my favorite moment from the morning. A white sedan pulled up and a woman in her 60′s got out and began to wander across the driveway, looking at nothing in particular. Most of the big items were gone, and it kind of surprised me that she even bothered to turn off her engine for the few things we had left to sell. After a few minutes, she held up a small lapel pin and asked me the price. The golden pin was a in the shape of a building and across the front of the building it said “BANK” and under the building 3 pennies dangled down. I’m sure it sounds like a strange pin, it makes a little more sense when you know that this pin was donated to my garage sale by my Mother, who once worked as a Bank Manager. I told the woman a price that I thought was fair, she looked down at the pin and then she said, “I want it for my Mother, she’s sitting in the car, and this will make her smile.” She proceeded to tell me that her Father had died recently and that he had a soft spot for pennies. She said that her Father would always say to her or to her Mother, “A penny for a hug” and that he believed that 3 pennies together were good luck. She said that when he found 3 pennies, he would tape them together and say that they were supposed to stay together, also, if you gave someone 3 pennies it meant they got an extra special hug. She then went on to tell me that when he was dying he told her, “I still owe you one more penny and one more hug”. Well, naturally, I told her to take the lapel pin free of charge. The pin was never supposed to be mine, it just came to me to get to her. My Mother brought it to me, so that she would stop at my garage sale and pick it up for her Mother…we just didn’t know it at the time.
I guess you could say, I’m a sentimental fool, who dislikes clutter, but at least I am rich.