I have browsed umpteen garage and yard sales over the years and used to help my mother display her collectibles in her neighborhood’s miles-long event. But I did not realize that Saturday, Aug. 11 is this year’s National Garage Sale Day until I read it via “U.S. News & World Report.”
Given the current political climate, National Garage Sale Day could be unprecedentedly controversial this year. Just Google “garage sale.” In addition to tips for shoppers and sellers, you’ll find numerous dueling examples of both “I love garage sales” and “I hate garage sales.” The only thing that could make things more incendiary this year is lawn signs such as “With each purchase, an adorable free kitten, named after a distinguished Confederate general.”
Still, controversial or not, when we participate in garage sales we are subconsciously paying tribute to our intrepid hunter-gatherer ancestors. As a further homage to their legacy, if you purchase that used electric blender without testing it first, you may also discover FIRE.
People who have never hosted a garage sale don’t realize the stress involved. For instance, you have to put a few dents into those stationary bikes and yoga mats, so no one realizes what a slob you are. (“That rowing machine looks like it has been idle since it was used to dump tea into Boston Harbor.”)
Savvy shoppers can tell a mediocre garage sale from an outstanding one. Run-of-the-mill garage sale organizers are tickled to see shoppers get into a tug-of-war over a prized item. Organizers who strive for excellence will offer even more entertainment value, perhaps a log-rolling contest or giant slalom to settle such conflicts. (“I would duel you at dawn, sir — but that’s when I have to be at the ‘Absolutely no early birds’ garage sale.”)
For some reason, many shoppers are ill-prepared for shopping. Driving their subcompact car through congested streets on the garage sale route makes them feel like a true nature’s child, like they were born, born to … buy a kitchen cupboard. (“Relax. If I take the air pressure gauge and the registration out of the glove compartment, I think I can make it fit.”)
Garage sales are a good way to get to know your neighbors better. (“Uh, yes, one of my hobbies is selling tools that look ALMOST exactly like the ones I borrowed from you last year…”)
People who host garage sales on an annual basis should be more circumspect about storing away their unsold items. Based on circumstantial evidence, someone keeps storing the old VHS tapes near a family Bible that is turned to “Be ye fruitful and multiply.” (The social justice motto of VHS tapes seems to be “We’re here, we reek of beer and we’re not going away.”)
Have fun Aug. 11, but be careful about impulse buys. Early in my married life, I went to a garage sale and purchased a big stack of antique hymn magazines. I couldn’t stop wondering what sort of idiot would get rid of such a treasure so cheaply.
Now the unread magazines have been taking up space in my shed for 20 years. Understandably, I’ve sworn off impulse buys.
“Oooo, Stonewall Jackson the tabby put quite a gash in your leg. You’d better get some bandages…”
“Let’s not rush into anything about these newfangled ‘bandages.’ Hey, why are electric blenders dancing around my head?”
Danny Tyree welcomes email responses at email@example.com and visits to his Facebook fan page “Tyree’s Tyrades.” Danny’s weekly column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc. newspaper syndicate.