Garage sales aren’t for wussies.
But I love them. I love cleaning out closets, I love thinking that stuff I no longer have any need or want for will find a new home, and of course, I love making some extra moola. I was very thankful my mom was here to help me – we spent Friday night in the sweltering heat of my garage setting up and pricing. Saturday morning, I rolled the door up early – 6:15 am – to drag some things out on to the driveway and the first car pulled up at 6:37 am. 6:37!
The sale was listed to start at 8 am. But you know what? I love early birds. We had the most business from 7am-8am, and then again from 10:45am-11 am while we were packing up. In fact, one lady made out like a bandit with a bag I had ready to go to Goodwill. I’ve always heard people say that clothes don’t sell at garage sales, but the two we have had down here in NC, I haven’t found that to be the case. I always wonder if I’m going to be walking around Wal-mart one day and see someone rocking some of my former duds.
We wrapped up by 11 and dropped off the leftovers at Goodwill by noon. It’s nice to have my guest bedroom back – I had twenty boxes of “garage sale” stuff piled up in there for almost 2 months getting ready. Doesn’t it amaze you when you start getting ready for a garage sale (or when you go to move) how much stuff we seem to continuously acquire? I pride myself on regular trips to Goodwill, consigning or Craigslisting but I am still continuously boggled by the amount of stuff we own.
Which is interesting, considering a conversation my mom had with a neighbor across the street before the sale. He’s an antiques dealer, with a garage packed full of goodies, so of course he had to come over the night before and see if I had anything worth anything. (I didn’t. Because the world didn’t end in 2000, so my Y2K Beanie Baby is not worth the millions my 18 year old self had hoped it to be.) He and my mom were discussing the kinds of things he sold, and he commented how much the antique world had changed since he got his start in 1982. He was talking about the phases of collecting he’s seen, and in particular mentioned baskets. Oh my gosh, BASKETS. I can remember my mom going through a basket stage. She even took a basket making class. She was so into baskets. Anyways, he and my mom were saying how people today don’t really collect like they used to, and they have less interest in family pass-downs.
I know this to be true. My mom recently cleaned out my grandma and grandpa’s home, where they resided for 63 years. She texted me to ask if there was anything I wanted. I haven’t been in their home since my Grandma’s funeral in 2005, so I had a hard time remembering anything that was there, so I just asked her for some sewing notions. She brought me a few sewing notions, and a cookbook notebook in my Grandma’s hand and a book of poetry written by my Great-Grandfather. And that was the perfect amount of stuff. I’m certain there were so many things she put her hands on before putting them in a box – to be put in her basement, to go to Goodwill, to go to her garage sale – and held a particular memory in her hand in that moment. But what to do with all that stuff? She and her siblings homes are full, and their children (myself, my siblings and cousins) are of the Pottery Barn generation: neutral palates, less is more surfaces and maybe one or two interest pieces – a fabric covered last name letter, a few hardcover books, maybe a framed portrait - per room. No tchotckes in curio cabinets for us.
But we still acquire and we certainly do accumulate en masse. We preserve the memories in jpeg formats, in blog posts, in facebook status. We acquire facebook friends, Twitter followers, and external hard drives to hold the 800 digital pictures we took on one vacation. (This post is not self-reflective at all.) Our shelves may be mostly bare, but our drawers are filled with boxes of chargers and cords and software discs, the remnants of the shiny new whatevers.
I imagine that growing up in a time when stuff was not as cheap and plentiful as it can be today (see: Wal-mart) made the acquisitions of possessions a careful and deliberate process, and the parting with said possessions done with even greater care and consideration. My grandparents, who lived through a Great Depression we can’t even begin to fathom, probably saved every item they spent their hard earned dollar to acquire.
Meanwhile, I am practically impulsive in my willingness to Ebay an item, but will give excruciating consideration to deciding to un-friend someone on Facebook, even if they are the friend of a friend I met at wedding, got along with great under the guise of too much chardonnay and have never spoken to since. (Call me! We’ll do lunch! Someday!)
I guess what I’m trying to say (in my always so succinct fashion) is that the desire to acquire and to keep must be part of human nature; it is simply the means of doing so that varies from generation to generation. My grandparents saved every material possession they owned. I saved every IM conversation I had in college. Is there a difference? Does “don’t let the things you own, own you” apply to packrats and hoarders alone, or does it apply to my digital generation, smug at their sparsely decorated apartments, while hastily saving every moment in an 140 character blast?
While you think about that one, I’m going to finish backing up my blogs about July 2010. My grandkids might want these one day.