Posted by: penpatience | July 31, 2019


WRITERS WORDS:  “When opportunity knocks, some people are in the back yard looking for four-leaf clovers.” –Polish Proverb




Garage sales, also known as tag, moving, yard and rummage sales used to be held most often during spring. Folks, after hunkering indoors during frigid winter months, eagerly attack spring cleanouts with yesterday’s found treasures now considered today’s disposable junk. Today, garage sales flourish from winter’s first snow melt to the following winter’s first snowfall.

Typically, goods in a garage sale are unwanted, but usable household goods, clothing, children’s toys, books, lawn and garden tools, furniture and all sizes and types of items that come under the heading of large and small “knick knacks.” Sellers usually put an ad in the local newspaper stipulating the time frame and date of the sale, tack up garage sale ads in their locales and are usually held on weekends in suburban communities hoping for good weather. A common term most every garage sale seller has experienced is the “early bird” buyer who screeches up in front of your driveway in an SUV or pick-up truck before the sale opens looking for rare, unusual items and bargains that can be purchased, restored and then resold.

So…..Why do folks bother with the time consuming preparation of sorting, pricing and displaying all kinds of unwanted stuff only to return unsold items back inside the garage for further disposal.  Because… a seller does reduce unwanted inventory and it’s a fun way to earn extra money. Why… do buyers attend these sales? Because… Who doesn’t love a bargain and for many writers, it’s a golden opportunity to greet a diversity of visitors who just might spark a future character trait inspiration.

I’ve been both a seller and buyer participant in garage sale mania. Bargaining, also known as haggling on prices, is routine. As a seller, I experienced the bargaining process. If an item was priced at $1.50 the question was “would you take a dollar for it?” It’s also been my experience that some buyers are glad to discover a specific and needed item marked at a fair price and they approach with cash in one hand and the favored item clutched in the other.

There are other “windfalls” other than garage sales that sometimes occur—“Freebies! One spring day last year I was out for a morning walk and while passing a neighbor’s home noticed her dragging all kinds of stuff to the edge of her front yard. A man parked across the street was loading a large, empty fish tank into the back of his pick-up truck.  Flabbergasted, I asked her, “Why don’t you have a garage sale?” She responded, “Nope, I can’t be bothered. I’m too busy moving. Take anything you want—it’s free. Opportunity knocked when I noticed the unique chest. Excited, I sent my partner back for the car while I sent a photo to my son who refinishes pieces as a hobby. By the time the car arrived, I put aside a handmade quilt for a friend, an authentic crystal vase and new, unopened household items for other family members.  One of my Motto’s: “Windfalls should always be shared.”

And, there are what I call “iffy” items (possessions not accepted by local charities) placed at the front curb or yard with the cardboard “FREE” sign attached.  They linger out front during daylight hours only to disappear under the cover of nightfall. (It’s gone! What a relief!)  Also, consider what I’ve witnessed as the scavenger weekly trash  phenomenon. Small disposables peeking out from overstuffed recycle bins or left alongside the container are fair game for trash day diving regardless of community status or location.

I muse. Garage sales serve a valuable purpose in communities. These sales put extra and sometimes needed money in family pockets and new and gently used items are often purchased below new retail prices.  A seller is relieved of Aunt Matilda’s atrocious holiday gift and neighbor, John Jones, is ecstatic at finding this great artifact for his den. My Perception:  Someone’s unwanted junk is someone else’s treasure.  It’s a WIN-WIN!

P.S.   Dear Readers: Don’t forget to share unneeded household or other non-perishable items with the many friends, neighbors, and others that have been unfortunate victims of recent environmental disasters.

Happy Sales to You!




  1. Loved this, Frances. It’s so accurate! I still stop by garage sales and estate sales hoping for that special thing(s) I didn’t know I needed! It IS win-win!


    • Hi Pat, YES! don’t we all like to find a special something once in awhile—unexpectedly.
      Happy Writing


  2. I also love a good garage sale, an estate sale, thrift store or even the Goodwill. Trash to treasure. Or something extremely therapeutic and wandering through other peoples items, no pressure sales. Very good article.


    • I agree. All venues are good. Thanks for the comment.


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