For the past two weeks, I’ve scoured my 2,600+ square foot home for extraneous possessions to offer up at the semi-annual community garage sale. I spent hours dragging dusty boxes out of closets and the garage itself. Then more hours sorting, analyzing, and cleaning all that stuff. I dragged the hoard back to the garage (and later to the living room when the garage became impassable). I made price and description labels on my computer and priced every. single. item.
I consciously chose $1 as my lowest price. No way was I going to deal with coins on top of everything else. I went to the bank for a supply of paper money for change.
In my suburb, residents are ruled by the iron fist of a Homeowners’ Association (HOA). This merry band of fascists dictates everything from the color of mulch in front yards to the frequency of garage sales. The HOA enforces the city’s regulation that each residence is allowed two garage sales a year and must have a city permit. (I’m completely serious.) The only residents who defy these mandates are those moving out of the development — even they call their event a “moving sale,” presumably to get around the garage sale mandates and avoid the wrath of the HOA.
I called the HOA office last month to sign up for the second and final garage sale of the year. The HOA got the necessary permit and listed my address on the map they provide to shoppers. I was then legally blessed to pile up my hoard of excess in my driveway at 7 am on Saturday.
Kid #3 and I starting pulling stuff outside at 6 am. People started showing up at 6:30 am. The sun was just barely rising and it was more than chilly. We’re in the midst of a Santa Ana, which means clear skies with no cloud cover, so nothing to hold in the 80 degree heat from daytime. Kid #3 was bundled up and shivering like she lived in Fargo.
Because so many people showed up so damn early, we didn’t actually get everything out for sale until 8 am. We were swamped with shoppers and most were genuinely nice. Of course, there were some low-ballers offering ridiculous prices and being generally obnoxious with their haggling. One guy (who walked up Starbucks cup in hand) seriously enjoyed the bargaining. And because he was fun and friendly (not to mention well caffeinated) , the back and forth bargaining was fun, too.
I had a few things marked as “free,” because that stuff was either too beat up to charge money for, or was too small to fool with, or I just needed it gone. Towards the end of the sale, I still had a number of books in my free box and a grandma walked up. The books were elementary-level science and social studies tomes, left over from some of our earlier homeschooling adventures. Grandma flipped through them and was thrilled. She explained that her daughter homeschools and could use them. I encouraged her to take them all. I remarked that we should send the American history and government books to Congress to remind them how to do their jobs. She laughed.
Then she said, “I really don’t like him.”
She whispered, “The president.”
Me: “Oh, I’ve been a little disappointed in him. But I still like him.”
She straightened up and said, “I’m Catholic and he’s just too liberal for me. You know, abortion and…”
At this point I thought if the next words out of her mouth have anything to do with gay marriage or LGBT issues, my head’s going to explode all over those free books. But I just laughed and told her, “That’s funny, he’s not nearly liberal enough for me!”
The tension broke, she laughed and ended up telling me she was glad that liberals homeschool, too. And she took that whole box of books. There really is some civility and common ground to be found. Take note, Congress.
After five hours, we sold about 80% of what we put out and made more money than I expected. The leftover items will be picked up by a charity truck next week and I can begin to prep for moving out of the family home. I don’t know where we’re going or when we’ll be leaving, but I should probably get organized. Reality is bearing down, but at least I’ve got a smaller hoard going forward.