garage sale gleanings

For decades, Friday and Saturday of Mother’s Day weekend has been dedicated to our community’s garage sales. All of last week we were hauling, cleaning, sorting and organizing. Ugh. Garage sales are a lot of work.

We always wonder if it will be worth our effort. Every four years or so, we conclude it’s time for another go. But, we say, “This is it! Last one!” Then we hope for enough foot traffic to make this one worthwhile.

Before community sales were a thing, I’d scour the local paper and scout a route. My mother-in-law had a knack for high quality bargain hunting, and taught me a thing (or nine hundred ninety-) two. Including, when to take a pass. With a wave of her hand, “Keep going. Junk!” We’d sail on by in search of the next sale worth a closer look.

Thanks to Betty, I’ve never tired of finding a great deal. With community sales, garage-saling got easy-peasy, the ultimate in recycle convenience! I still treasure and use deals of decades past.

In recent memory, our community event weekend meant a yard sale, garage sale, barn sale, or porch sale every few houses. People drove in from many miles around. Our tiny library, fire department, general store, and church all got in on the action. Book sales. Plant sales. Food sales. Inside table space, out of the weather.

One year some enterprising youngsters (who *may* be in our family) undercut local establishments and made a killing on hot dogs, resulting in few seriously disgruntled adults but many happy bargain hunters!

For decades, garage sale weekend carried a field-days festivity. Narrow roads lined with cars, interspersed with horses and buggies. Moms and dads with kids in tow; teens on the prowl; old folks on the stroll. Navigating our tiny town was almost impossible for two days of the year. Our farmers gritted their teeth, threading the needle with ever-widening tilling and planting equipment. I’d drive ten miles out of my way to the grocery store to avoid running the gauntlet!

Almost forever, garage sale weekend has been cray-cray. But now, not so much. This year we were one of only a handful of sales. So I’m surprised, to be honest, that the event encouraged me so much. I feel genuinely hopeful. Facebook Marketplace doesn’t have to win this one, eh?

Our sale was a multi-generational effort, several kids and grandkids jumping in. “Many hands make work light,” as my mom would say. More enjoyable, too.

Hosting a garage sale provides a bonanza of life-lessons. Preparing things for sale. Interacting and negotiating with strangers. Handling money responsibly. Pushing through when you’re tired. Holding peace when you’re irritated. Cleaning up your mess.

Not to mention, simply letting go of stuff. It is unreasonably hard, sometimes. I had occasion to remind myself, and the grands, “It doesn’t owe us anything.” Credit the Hubs for that nugget of wisdom.

As much as I enjoy finding a bargain, I enjoy offering one. We heard over and again from returning bargain hunters who appreciated our price point, and sale cleanliness. Neither a courtesy nor effort to be taken for granted, as I’m sure you well know. I hope our grands absorbed those underlying messages.

The world of the generous gets larger and larger; the world of the stingy gets smaller and smaller.
The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed; those who help others are helped.

Proverbs 11:24-25 MSG

Add to these some flip-side life-lessons. People are not always honorable, trustworthy, or generous. Some are greedy. Maybe they lie and cheat. Perhaps downright rude! Here’s looking at you:

  • Shady Ladies, claiming false reductions, or skipping out on a portion of the tab. Seriously, taking advantage of kids?
  • eBay Barron, haggling me on an amazing price point only to post for sale online within the hour at beyond-crazy almost-criminal profit. C’mon, man. Choices.
  • Lizard Lady, slithering off with freebies set aside by an Amish lady. When confronted, so rude!

But alas, these are equally important teachable moments, too.

On whole, however, I was encouraged by how much the beauty of community shined through. Ours is a humble, almost forgotten, middle-of-nowhere kind of place. Yet I truly enjoyed each opportunity to welcome in.

Welcome in. I heard that phrase a lot this winter, from Florida through the Carolinas. Such a gracious way to greet the stranger at the door, “Welcome in.” It didn’t matter if it was a large store, boutique shop, or small gas station. Welcome in. I was warmed by quintessential southern charm.

Even so, I was a bit surprised to find myself repeating the phrase throughout our sale. To a stranger coming up the driveway, on entering the garage, or wandering through the merch … “Welcome in. Thanks for stopping.” felt just right.

We enjoyed each short but sweet conversation; making new friends; greeting neighbors. We relished the blossoming warmth of spring, soaking in the sunshine, one wary eye on the cash box. We savored the simplicity of interactions as a family and farming community.

Most marvelous of all, we delighted in hearing about a miracle. One couple, grandparents, giddy with the bounty of kids gear, shared their story. The DeShane triplets didn’t just overcome impossible odds to live and thrive, they are warriors with a Guinness world record!

Now kindergarteners, those micro-preemies didn’t stand a chance — but God. Such a sweet reminder this Mother’s Day weekend. Life is precious. Hold hope. God does impossible things!

Yeah, we were pooped out by time the last tables were folded, and random items boxed up for Goodwill. But it was a good tired, fully satisfied and gratified. So maybe this won’t be the last time we’ll haul out stuff, set up the sign, and welcome in.

We just hope you don’t wait for the next sale to drop by for a visit. :=)

~ Sincerely, Sondra

4 Comments on “garage sale gleanings

  1. Great job my friend. I was so bummed to learn that we missed the Morley sales, was hoping it was the next weekend. So alas I found no bargains but worse than that, I didn’t have a chance to be “welcomed-in” or catch up with Morley friends and acquaintances

    1. So, so very good to have you home, friend! Looking forward to catching up with you … and welcoming you in. :=) XO

      PS I don’t know why it’s always Mother’s Day weekend … seems a rather cruel trick to me!

  2. For years and years I did yard sales but the last time I did somebody gave me money. That was totally useless. I have adopted the point that when I hoard things I’m depriving someone of something they need. So I in turn just give my stuff away. Interesting story though

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