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GENERATIONS: Will I ever do another garage sale?

About four days into preparing for a garage sale earlier this month, I remembered why, after each of my previous garage sales, I’d said I’d never do it again. Setting up is a lot of work, but this time was different.

Scaffolding, cabin, free items.jpg
Vertical posts of scaffolding are filled with hangers of shirts, sweaters, even a few winter coats, and tools and sporting items filled the boards. Contributed / Sue Bruns

About four days into preparing for a garage sale earlier this month, I remembered why, after each of my previous garage sales, I’d said I’d never do it again. Setting up is a lot of work, but this time was different.

The little cabin on our property was in dire need of serious cleaning, and preparation for a sale served two important purposes. It would help me to downsize and organize the contents of the cabin, and it would allow me to clean and rearrange so the little building could be used as a guest bedroom.

The cabin has been unavailable for guests for a few years, serving more as a storage shed for items not moved from the old house to the new house 10 years ago. I’d bought used bookshelves to store the books and had boxed up other items, but the cabin was cluttered and needed a good cleaning.

When my neighbor decided to have a garage sale, I signed on to hold one the same days. It would give me a deadline for much of the sorting and organizing. I sectioned off the cabin and went to work, moving things away from the walls, sweeping, dusting, scrubbing, sanitizing, tossing, and sorting: Garbage? Garage sale item? Donation? Put to use? And sometimes, “Oh, so THAT’s where that has been!”

It felt great to tackle the task, to sift through memories and downsize all at once. I spent long, hot stuffy days in the cabin. It was a lot of work -- often physical work -- but it was rewarding, too. The place started to look like a cabin instead of an episode of Hoarders.

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Soon my four tables were filled with items. I needed more space. Then it dawned on me that I am married to a carpenter and we have several pieces of scaffolding. Gary set up a few sections in front of the cabin and even dragged a few power tools out of his shop to put them on sale. Before long, the vertical posts of scaffolding were filled with hangers of shirts, sweaters, even a few winter coats, and tools and sporting items filled the boards.

The night before the garage sale, I organized and priced items until 1:30 in the morning. I had four primary prices: 25 cents, $1, or fill a bag for a set amount, the fourth price was the popular “FREE!” I wasn’t going to get rich, but my goal was to find new homes for still-usable items.

Among the customers were area neighbors whose names I recognized from mailboxes but people I’d never formally met. Small talk with strangers led to points in common, discovering we’d grown up in the same part of the state or our kids had gone to school together. People seemed so much friendlier than at previous rummage sales. Maybe the past year’s COVID restrictions contributed to our eagerness to converse and interact.

Most of the “shoppers” spent a few bucks; some didn’t but still chatted and wished me well as I thanked them for stopping by. Some people were delighted when they found items that were just what they needed. The retired English teacher in me found it rewarding when people sorted through my “library” and selected books that interested them.

Several men stopped by throughout the three days -- every bit as eager to go “sale-ing” as the women. Gary’s reasonably priced used tools were very popular: an arc welder sold almost immediately; then a palm sander, a miter and a compressor.

The days were busy and exhausting. People came and went, hauled away items I’d clung to, thinking someday I might refinish those rocking chairs or sew something out of those fabric scraps or read those unread books. By the end of the third day, I was physically spent but happy to see space opening up in the cabin. I’d gotten rid of a lot of stuff, met interesting people and actually enjoyed myself.

Will I ever do another garage sale? Maybe not, but I won’t say never.

Related Topics: GENERATIONS
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