Garage sales have changed a lot since that bug first bit me years ago.
I have always loved going to the sales and even having them, despite all the work. I just had one on a recent beautiful Saturday, and I’m still recovering.
I had my first carport sale in Jonesboro when my husband and I were first married, and I had no idea what I was doing. I’m sure I could have made a lot more money than I did.
After we moved to Conway, I started going to garage sales and flea markets to find treasures and to fulfill my collecting obsessions through the years — Snoopy, children’s books, especially Little Golden Books, and metal lunchboxes.
When you go to garage sales every Saturday, you get a lot of stuff. My house only holds so much, so I found myself with bargains I couldn’t resist and no room for them. I would give people presents at Christmas, sometimes new, that I’d found at garage sales.
I remember being thrilled to find my dad all the Southern Living cookbooks he was missing.
I had price guides on collectibles, including Little Golden Books and antiques, to know what I should pay. This was a pre-internet world, which is hard to imagine now. The internet has changed everything. You can buy just about anything online, and you can stand in a person’s garage and look online to see what an item is selling for new or on eBay.
Online garage sales are huge, too. A couple of months ago, I met a stranger in a parking lot to pay $30 for a set of canisters for my daughter-in-law. But that leaves out the social aspect of garage sales, which I enjoy. At my most recent garage sale, I saw a few garage-sale regulars who always come to my sales. One woman, who reads my column, said, “I knew you’d have a garage sale when I read you were redecorating.”
A nice young man started talking to us about some duck decoys my son had for sale, and he asked our last name. When I asked his, he told me his full name. I told him I knew his sister and brothers’ names. He looked surprised, and I told him I’d just written about two of his siblings, who were Male and Female Athletes of the Year in the Clinton School District. His mother was at the garage sale, too, so I got to meet her in person. We hugged. It was fun to put a face to the voice on the phone. We chatted for a while. They both bought some things, and she waved as she drove away.
Another woman and I had a great conversation about my smart 2-year-old granddaughter and her smart 5-year-old son, as well as how her 13-year-old daughter reads to her son. The daughter got out of the car to meet us. She was beautiful, with long braids that her mother had created in her hair. The teenager said, “Nice to meet you!” as she left. I’m still marveling at how impressive she was.
Still another woman, who was not looking for garage sales, stopped when she saw a midcentury modern chest of drawers my daughter-in-law had for sale. We bonded, and I ended up inviting her into my house to show her a piece of furniture I’d painted. I don’t usually invite strangers into my house.
At the end of the day, I was exhausted from the late nights, but I had made some money for me and my son and daughter-in-law and cleared out a lot of stuff.
My new friend — whose last name I didn’t get — said she might call me some day, “and we can go estate-saling together.”
I may not know her last name, but I’m game.
Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or firstname.lastname@example.org.