Garage Sale Mania

Labor Day has come and gone but garage sale signs are still popping up like dandelions in most neighborhoods. With each one I see, I get that familiar itch to go check out the sale—but then I stop and tell myself, “I already have a garage.” If my own bad joke doesn’t dissuade me, then I may drive by slowly, but I rarely ever stop.

And after the last garage sale I held, I doubt if I’ll ever have another one. It had been ten years since my last one. I suppose my memory of the pain had been erased, leaving just the tantalizing pleasure. For whatever reason, I gave in to temptation. I had a garage sale.

I knew it was going to be a one-woman show when my husband and I agreed he should go ahead and go on a weekend men’s retreat, but that’s not when I decided the garage sale was a bad idea.

The sale was on a Saturday, so on Friday evening I was in our garage surrounded by all the priceless items I had collected. Where to begin? Soon I was setting up “store” and having fun merchandising the treasures into departments. By this time it was about 11:00 p.m. and I hadn’t even begun to price the items. But that’s not when I decided the garage sale was a bad idea.

The curtains in the garage caught my eye and I reasoned they should be washed if my store was going to impress a bunch of strangers, so I took them down and put them in the washer. Re-hanging the curtains about 1:30 a.m., I fell inside the big silver garbage can I was standing on. But that’s not when I decided the garage sale was a bad idea.

By 2:30 a.m. I was making real progress getting the color-coordinated stickers on all the items. The garage door was down and the door to the house was open, so my two cats came out to see what I was doing up so late.

Suddenly I heard a scuffle in the corner of the garage. I looked up to see my big black and white cat, Al, with a mouse in his mouth—its little tail and legs sticking out. I convinced Al to drop the mouse, who promptly scurried away, and got both cats shut up in the house. Then I realized I still had another hour’s work to do in the garage—only now I’d be doing it with a mouse who was hurt, angry, or both. That’s when I decided the garage sale was a bad idea.

After three hours of sleep, I was up at the crack of dawn to greet the shoppers. They literally ran up my driveway and into the garage as soon as I opened for business. Many of the early birds left after canvassing the garage briefly. Those were the shoppers expecting to find the Hope diamond carelessly displayed alongside the old bedroom slippers.

By day’s end I was practically giving away anything someone even glanced at sideways, still I had a garage full of valuable stuff. It was another week before a charity picked up the remainder of my treasures and we had our garage back. Of course it could have been worse. At least none of the shoppers lifted the lid to a pot only to discover a dead mouse inside!

I applaud your frugality if you shop garage sales, and if you have the fortitude to have them, I wish you the best. As for me, I’m going to avoid the mania…unless one of those signs really entices me of course!


  1. Bernice Herrold says:

    I love this story–this is the first one that I read and love it and can relate to it somewhat!!!

  2. Jan Keller says:

    I don’t do garage sales, either! hahahaha! Thanks for providing this bright spot in my day!

  3. Harlan Else says:

    My sentiments exactly, Nancy. You made my day!

  4. Glad you enjoyed it, Harlan!

  5. Oh, Nancy, only you would wash the curtains of your garage “shop.” I loved this but was disappointed that you did not have the Hope Diamond tuck among other valuables.
    I have my planner open; when is your next “shop”?

  6. Michael Rhoda says:

    Great post, Nancy. I try not to do garage sales, but on the rare instance that I do, I employ a strategies that support my goal of the “30-minute Garage Sale.”
    Rule 1: Divide garage sale display area into 4 quadrants: A.) Big ticket items B.) $10 items C.) $5 items D.) $1 items
    Rule 2: For big-ticket items, decide what an aggressively low price point would be–then list them for half of that. Remember, your goal is to make a little money, to make people feel like they got a steal, and to not give up half of your weekend in the process.
    Rule 3: Only individually price tag big-ticket items (anything above 10 bucks). All other items go in one of three other group priced quadrants. This saves you LOADS of time and improves your overall return on effort.
    Rule 4: Anything not worth a dollar is not worth your time. Toss it in a box clearly marked “FREE”…the same box that you will throw into the back of your vehicle to drop off in just 31 minutes to your local charity. That box will make people happy and cause passersby to become stoppersby.
    Rule 5: No holds–your goods are so well priced that you do not need to hold anything for anyone. Besides, the chances of someone returning within your 30-minute time frame is slim to none.
    Rule 6: ANYTHING not sold in 30 minutes goes into the free box or back of your vehicle to be given to charity–regardless of your initial price assessment. Rather than think of how it didn’t sell, focus on what a pleasant find it will be for the person who comes across it in the donation store.
    Rule 7: Do something fun for your family with the funds gained from your 30-minute garage sale, knowing that others paid to help you un-clutter your life.

  7. I believe every funny word of this! Sometime I’ll tell you my gingerbread house story!

  8. alice scott-ferguson says:

    great writing, Nancy!
    as always, an observer of human nature par excellence!!!

  9. Thanks so much, Alice. Means a lot coming from another great writer!

  10. Nancy. This is not even funny! You know how bad my garage is. Was hoping you would help a sister out next time you came home. Maybe you just talked me out of having one. I just struggle with the thought of giving away perfectly valuable items in good condition. But you are right. It is not worth it! Proud of you. Great article as usual. Love ya P

  11. Elizabeth Van Liere says:

    Hi Nancy. Been there. Done that. No more. Ever! I even drive by the garage sale signs nowdays. I need to get rid of stuff instead of collect stuff, but my discards now go to Hospice or Salvation Army.
    Aside from all that, I wish I had written such a great, funny, made my morning start with a laugh article.

  12. So funny and true, Nancy! Greg begs me to never have a garage sale, but every once in a while I am enticed by the smell of “big $”, aka…$32.72. Or less. Anyway I love your blog. Thanks for reminding me of the truth about garage sales.

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