Jewish World Review June 7, 2002 / 27 Sivan, 5762

Lori Borgman

Lori Borgman
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Consumer Reports

Garage Sale Treasures | There's nothing like a garage sale to make you realize just how valuable your old junk really is. In anticipation of our annual neighborhood garage sale, we saved old cast-offs, the no-longer needed, and the worn and weary in bags and boxes for six months. If Goodwill had caught a glimpse of the mountain we accumulated, they would have annexed the house, posted hours on the front door and given away helium balloons to announce the grand opening of their newest store.

The day before the garage sale I divided the treasures into three heaps: clothes, household goods and Christmas decorations as old as Dick Clark, but not nearly as well preserved. I marked almost everything fifty cents. Fifty cents is a good price for garage sale items. Customers won't think you're uppity when you mark most everything fifty cents. That's good, because there's nothing worse than a garage sale where people mark the same junk the rest of us own at two and three bucks a pop just because they're uppity.

Besides, making money at a garage sale is entirely incidental. The real goal of a garage sale is to get the junk out of my house and into yours. Five seconds after the sale opened, I hear a voice say, "Cool purse. Neat flip flops. What an adorable bear. I'm taking them back, Mom, I don't want to sell them after all." The purse, shoes, bear and most of the clothes go back in the house.

My next customer wants to buy the wagon and the wheelbarrow. They're not for sale, I explain. They're merely holding our treasures.

Someone behind me, pawing through household goods says, "You know, when I move off campus next year, these T-fal pans without any T-fal left on them could come in handy. So could these chipped Santa mugs." The pans, mugs and most of the household goods go back in the house.

A legitimate customer looks at a set of placemats and a bent curtain rod. She offers $3 for the wagon. I put a sign on the wagon with letters six-inches high that say, "Wagon Not For Sale."

A man begins dropping treasures into a paper bag. "I think I saw these on Antique Road Show. We should have them appraised." The man is my husband. He hauls old toys from Happy Meals, comic books, a key chain from New York City and two bags of trash back in the house.

"Look at these big hoop earrings," a voice says. "They're so old they're back in style. Why don't you keep them, Mom?"

"I'm too old to wear hoop earrings so big a Chihuahua could jump through," I say.

"I'm not," she says. The hoop earrings, assorted jewelry, and little bottles of shampoo from motels go back in the house.

A couple stops to peruse my meager offerings. "This all you got?" the man asks.

"Yep, pretty much down to these three empty tables and the chair I'm sitting on."

They walked away and I heard the woman say, "If that's all the stuff she could bear to part with, she must be real uppity."

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JWR contributor Lori Borgman is the author of I Was a Better Mother Before I Had Kids. To comment, please click here.

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© 2001, Lori Borgman