Confessions of a garage sale junkie

Is there a Garage Sale Go-ers Anonymous group in town?

If there is, my Sweet Al and I need to attend.

If there isn’t one, there should be — this  town is full of garage sale junkies. I would tell the whole world I’m not one of them, but I think it is time to come out of the closet and confess I also have a problem.

I don’t want to have garage sales, don’t want to go to them and I don’t want any more junk. But, somehow, I‘m always sorting through junk, which we have accumulated in weak moments. This stuff comes to the door. People know we can’t say no, so they bring their treasures to us.

I’m finding when we have garage sales, the serious garage sale people come before we open, even though we specify, “8 a.m., no early birds.” They come at 7 and stand there with things in their hands, waiting for us to tell them what it’s worth.

Instead of saying, “I’m not open yet,” I’ll say, “Oh, just give me a couple of dollars.” That’s how a lady got a good pair of antique snow skis. Al is still mad at me for selling those for two dollars.

Then there was the antique toboggan that Al had in the family for years. It was probably worth some money. Another lady came early, caught me off guard and I sold it to her for a few dollars.

I think they know what they’re doing.

And I don’t.

When I told my friend about this, she said that’s what serious garage sale people do. My friend knows, because she has a friend who shows up early and actually makes a living by being the first one there to get the good deals. She takes these treasures and puts them on eBay.

Another friend, when she is having a garage sale, she makes it a party. Her husband fires up the barbecue grill and serves hot dogs. I can’t imagine cooking for people in the midst of all that junk. She does, though. She always makes $500 or more and she doesn’t have that much to sell.  She uses it as a time to get to know the neighbors, and she’s making money and new friends.

So, when do you hold or fold?

I don’t have garage sale smarts. Garage-sale-smart people live at garage sales. They hang around garage sale people.  They know the lingo, they know a good price, they know how to do it.

I think I need to join the GSG Anonymous.

“Hi, I’m Betty. I’m married to a Garage Sale Junkie. He won’t stop collecting junk. He promises me he will stop, but he won’t do it. He sneaks it in and hides it under the couch pillow or on the top shelf of the closet. It’s tearing us apart.”

I confess I have my own junk addiction, as well. Our addictions feed off of each other. Al brings home a blue bottle, and I can see it on our mantel with flowers. I can’t say no to him, or the bottle. He brings home a table. I see one of my paintings on it. The light goes off in me: I grab it and I say, “It’s mine.” It’s that hallelujah moment when the heavens break open and the light shines around it.

We are both junkies.

The new me will say no to all garage sales — no to shopping at them or having them. But, when the junk mounts up, I give in. Al gets energized with garage sale day. I want to crawl into a hole.

Back to my recent episode with our garage sale, which prompted this article in the first place.

I have to confess.

I put an ad in the Classified Ads section, planned, worked like a dog, got it ready, and then came the rain. I went to a football game the night before the garage sale, and heard there would be 60 percent chance of rain the next day.

I had reserved the church in case of rain, but I didn’t want all that mud tracked into the church. I couldn’t decide the best thing to do: follow through, or shut it down.

Apparently, there is protocol in calling off a garage sale. I didn’t do it right.

On Friday night, my friend came up to me and said she had invited nine friends and she had things to donate to the church, thinking it was a church event. I told her I called it off.

I was reprimanded.

“You called it off. I drove by the church.  I didn’t see a sign that said ‘Garage Sale Cancelled.’  You should’ve put up a sign.”

“I thought when people saw the rain they would know it wasn’t going to happen.”

“You need to call the radio station and have them announce it.”

I didn’t think it was necessary. I went home that night and started to pray for more rain, as if we hadn’t had enough rain all ready, I had to prove that I was justified, that I had a good reason for calling off the garage sale.

I don’t quit when I commit to something. Surely the whole world knows that and wouldn’t see me be flippant toward serious garage sale shoppers.

I woke up the next morning. Gray skies!  I ran to the computer, giddy, and e-mailed the radio station. I e-mailed all our church members, since I had announced the sale the week before. I told Al he had to go to town and put up a sign that said, “Garage Sale Cancelled due to Rain.”

He said, “Betty, they will know it’s cancelled. People know it’s going to rain.”

By 6:30 a.m. it poured down. I was relieved. For you serious garage sale people, I’m sorry I wasn’t there to meet you in the rain. I had heard a few people came by. They must know about all the good treasures we want to set free.

I have boxed all our garage sale stuff up, and it takes up the whole barn. Some of our vehicles are going to be out in the rain and snow so I might make $100 in the spring. I’m going to do it, come rain or shine.

Again, if you see my sweet Al wandering by your yard sale, tell him he already has three of those at home. Pretty please.

Final brushstroke: Deliver me. My Sweet Al and I live among junk. Let me know when the next meeting is for the GSG Anonymous. We’ll be there.

This story was posted on December 5, 2013.