Saturday, July 08, 2006

The garage sale

[Days later I realized that I forgot all about any money I had made and found it lying under some papers in, of course, the garage]

Yes, today was the day I hosted that inevitable "garage sale" that we all must endure when preparing to move out of our over stuffed homes, setting our sails towards the next adventure.

I hate the garage sale, the sitting outside in my driveway for hours, the bartering with strangers over my personal property to eke out a tiny recompense for stuff I probably never should have purchased and hardly ever used. But attempting to make something fruitful out of this seemingly time wasted, as I try to do with most things in my life, I set out to do the task right.

I got up early and started creating the signage that would convert unaware Saturday divers into potential customers: one for the corner of the main thoroughfare near my house sporting an arrow pointing my way, another one at the next corner again pointing the way and finally, using a full sheet of large, yellow artboard that I'd been saving for 15 years, came the colorful GARAGE SALE HERE sign. The smaller ones tacked up on the appropriate telephone poles and the "big" one tied to my new street-side wrought iron fence, I was on my way.

Next I laid out all those household utensils and dishes of debatable value, pieces of clothing, books, small appliances, framed art prints, interesting items (a watch, harmonica, mercury thermometer) and my old bicycle helmet. Fifteen minutes later I reorganized the items into categories and sorted out the FREE STUFF—all the items priced at less than a dollar—of which I placed near the sidewalk with another quickly made up sign to lurer the prey... I mean customers.

Soon my first buyer appeared in a pickup truck, brought in off the street by my chartreuse colored, pointing arrow, corner posted 8 1/2*11s. He was a nice, older guy wearing a baseball hat that loved to fish. Some of my neighbors, seeing the activity, made their way up the drive, the kids across the street even came over. We chatted and got to know each other better. As I called out prices, noted the history of each curiosity my skeptical shoppers picked-up and began hauling in the petty loot, I found my attitude changing. Instead of pushing for the best buck I could squeeze out of my treasures I was now giving things away or cutting the price to fit the buyer whenever I sensed a suitable match. I was now more interested in finding a good home for my stuff, someone that would really appreciate what I had appreciated, than the "cold hard cash."

This was interesting behavior for a capitalist, a businessman of 25 years, a fiscal conservative such as I; and I liked it—yes, the magic of my journey was already working.

Reporting from the underground...

Stan Morris