Posted by: penpatience | August 1, 2016


SI Exifgaragesalephoto

WRITERS WORDS: “Geniuses can be scintillating and geniuses can be somber, but it’s that inescapable sorrowful depth that shines through—originality.” –Jack Kerouac



Tis the season–for garage sales! Garage sales in the Northeast begin with the spring thaw and continue until the first serious snowfall. They pop up like weeds along the roadsides and flourish throughout most communities.

Popular for many years now, I’m often dumbfounded by garage sales’ continuous popularity. So much preparation for nominal monetary returns, and yet they have huge followers among bargain hunters who traipse from sale to sale most often on early Saturday mornings. They’re out foraging for doodads, toys, used furniture, tools, jewelry and home goods galore believing they will score that one great bargain for a few dollars—a steal of a deal!

This past spring in early June our community hosted its Annual Garage Sale. I don’t usually participate in these sales, but I had some “stuff” and decided to join the brouhaha one last time. I designated the spare room as the collection point and soon, an old George Forman grill sans an on-off button, a used shredder, a plastic hose holder minus the hose, some unused cutlery, an old golf bag with clubs, and an assortment of items classified as bric-a-brac and knick-knacks filled the room. The advertised sale hours were 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. The day of the sale I had just put out a few large items when a Chinese customer stopped by at 8:15!

The Saga of the used Shredder: The customer did not speak English. He gestured toward the shredder.  I shook my head and pointed. Did he want the shredder?  He indicated he wanted to see how it worked. We walked over to my outside outlet, and I showed him how the shredder worked. He smiled and walked back with me while I put it down again. Did he want to buy the shredder?  He looked at me, smiled, shook his head no and sauntered off.  I resumed lugging the remainder of the sale items outside hoping I would get it all in place before nine o’clock.

What a day! Customers came in droves. A middle aged man seemed interested in the old set of golf clubs ($10). He was teaching his son to play golf, would I take $5.00 for the clubs and bag. I grit my teeth. No, they’re old, but a good set. Not a bad price to pay to see if your son will like the game.  We compromised at $9.00.   A couple came by and stood in front of the shredder.  “Look honey, it’s almost like the one we bought at the store yesterday.”  No sale there. A couple of slightly used beach towels were grabbed at $1.00/each. An unopened bottle of “el-cheapo” perfume (Phew) went for $.50. And so it went.  However, this former business professional had the secret to success.  The night before, I dug up medium size offshoots from some of my favorite and overgrown perennial plants, put them in recycled pots (saved over time) and priced them below garden shop retail prices.  They sold like hotcakes!

Back to the shredder…ten minutes before closing time, a customer stood before the shredder, looked over at me and said, “Does it work?” I answered “yes.” He asked for a demonstration. I trudged over to the outlet one last time, and my old, well-used shredder performed like a champ. I sold it to him for $5.00—FINAL CLEARANCE  🙂

Garage Sale Notes:

  • Don’t throw unsold items in the trash can. Donate them to your favorite charity.
  • If a customer appears to be in genuine need, give the item away as a “Freebie of the Hour.”
  • Writers: A variety of visual and intrinsic character traits abound in folks that attend garage sales—perhaps an unusual trait or two might be included in one of your future writing projects.



  1. My only garage story is of a friend, when I lived in Atlanta, she told me she happen to be at a garage sale where they had a bag of costume jewelry given to them by the church. My friend noticed an old ring, she said she asked a number of times if the price was really $10.00 to make sure the quote was right. She had it appraised, it was a three carat diamond, Evidently the family just dumped the jewelry out of the drawer, I’m sure there is a story to go with the ring, for my friend it was “a steal of a deal !!!”


    • Hi Terri!
      We should all be so lucky:) Thanks for sharing the experience.


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