Thursday, August 25, 2011

Garage Sale Notes

Garage Sale Saturday arrived but so did the rain and dark, stormy skies. Just as the clock struck 7:00 an elderly gentleman appeared--to inspect the World War II memorabilia. The excitement of my first customer looking at some of the higher-priced items quickly faded. He asked a couple of questions, I showed him my product, and he was disappointed . . . ahem, “put out” would be a better description.
“These are just toys. Looks like I just got out in the rain for nothing,” the man said in a gruff, dissatisfied voice. And then he was gone. I glanced around my overflowing garage; frankly i never expected rain. The summer had been a dry one in Missouri day after day. And my people, friends who bravely agreed to be “worker bees” were not to be found. A slow feeling of dread, almost panic crawled up my back. 
Before I had time to think about it, “my peeps” arrived along with a flow of garage sale loyalists. Perhaps my “rain or shine” comment in the advertisement helped but it seemed if many of these folks remembered past “awesome garage sales.” Mind you, I’ve had one. It was five years ago. Regardless, throughout the morning, a number of people told me in detail what they purchased at the 2006 sale. 
Fez, Morocco, January 2001
When I spotted a crack in the flow of people, I went upstairs for a fresh cup of coffee. Despite thinking it had to be at least 9 a.m., the clock said 7:50. The dulcimer, Japanese violin, several framed artworks, historically accurate model airplanes, vinyl records, the old lawn mower, washer and dryer, and much more had disappeared in the early minutes of the sale. 
It felt like a Moroccan souk during those first 50 minutes. People swirled and contorted through the narrow space between tables of colorful items; at least one customer used his flashlight to inspect merchandise in the dim garage light. Another asked if he could shine the light his way. Why didn’t I think of reserve flashlights for the potential early gray morning?
As the rain poured I thought “this is just a garage sale, my poor trees need the rain.” People mingled and as new friendships formed, I realized that a garage sale provided more than a chance to make money and thin closets. Clearly the best things exchanged at the sale were friendships gained, strengths found, and understandings cultivated.


  1. I admit that I was snoozing, blissfully, as you toiled at dawn in the "souk"...but you have restored my faith in THE GARAGE SALE. I am now a proud owner of one of those WWII "toys" and I know my father-in-law will love it! Thanks for sharing your friends and treasures with me; Laughs and Chats on garage sale weekend: Priceless!

  2. I love the reworked beginning and I totally agree with you: the meaning of it went way beyond the practical use of it. Way to go, Annie!