Decluttering Part II: The Garage Sale

The natural culmination of marathon decluttering is The Garage Sale. For some these words bring anticipation of a sunny Saturday afternoon rummaging through someone else’s castoffs and finding an ugly painting that will sell for $10,000 on Antiques Roadshow. For others (like me) it sends shivers down one’s spine. But when you’ve been as successful as we had in rooting through every item in your home and brutally tossing aside treasures you could never part with (none of which will fetch $10,000 BTW) into the “sale” pile, a garage sale is a must.
Now, I don’t go to garage sales because they put me into sensory overload. When I do venture into the realm of thrift, I head straight
to the books and then leave. Needless to say, I know nothing about the planning and execution of said sale. We took a tip from Rich’s brother Louie and his wife Karen. When they had their garage sale last fall they did not spend hours marking items with color-coded stickers. They did not mark them at all; Karen didn’t want to deal with small change, so everything was a dollar unless marked otherwise. Brilliant. We did the same.
We had a very successful sale, and now are exhausted. But Marie Kondo is right—there is a feeling of joy and freedom when the energy from all those items we had carried for years was gone from our home. The house even feels lighter and cleaner. And I am happy to report the punch bowl sold on the second day.
Here are some thoughts from my garage sale experience:
  1. Angels will appear at your sale.
  2. 2.   Your stuff is not as valuable to the person buying it as it is to you even though they want it.
  3. 3.   If you think something is worth $5, ask for $4. It’s like a magic formula that I believe has something to do with the person getting change for his/her five. They will probably keep looking for more to buy.
  4. 4.  Give the little girl who is twirling in her too-big tutu the fluffy boa she is eyeing. Granted you won’t get your dollar for it, but what you feel when her brother pats her on the shoulder and tells her she looks pretty is priceless.
  5. 5.   The woman who tells you she lost everything in the house fire is not there to contribute to your monetary wealth but to your soul. I knew I would give her the blue vases in her hands and anything else she wanted for free. Before I could tell Rich this, I had to retrieve something from the house. When I returned she was gone and so were the vases. I asked Rich if he charged her for the items she had collected, and he said he never even saw her. The vases were gone and I was perfectly okay with that. (See #1.)
  6. 6.   Be aware of the wonderful moments during your sale such as when your husband sees the green plastic bat that a five-year-old is clutching and he says to the boy, “Here, you can take this home with you.” The father told us his son would be starting T-ball that week.
  7. 7.   You will meet people who watch the same obscure BBC programs that you love and can suggest new titles they haven’t heard of yet. It’s great to connect on such a meaningful level.
  8. 8.  Give the young man the copy of Plato’s The Republic for free.  Rich told him to enjoy it with our blessings.
9.  At the end of the sale, Rich and I started to pack away the remaining items. Both of us were dreading this process because A) we had spent so much time packing them in preparation for the sale, and B) we didn’t want them back in our garage. A white pick-up truck
pulled in and three people got out. The woman looked at a box containing curtain rods and various size window blinds. When she asked the price, Rich said she could have the whole box for a dollar. I felt a shift in the cosmos as she looked at the older man. He said, “I’ll give you thirty bucks for everything you have left.” Stunned and exhausted after this three-day marathon, Rich and I said, “Sold!” The man paid me and the three of them packed up all of our items and drove off into the sunset. (See #1).
So even though I dreaded the grueling task of preparing for and then putting on a garage sale, like everything in life, it was enjoyable just to meet all the different people who stopped by. It’s pretty cool to know that someone is finding good use for our toaster oven and patio table and punchbowl. The kicker is, on the first day when we set out the punchbowl, I said to Rich, “I know I had 12 cups to go with this.” We found them Sunday morning after the woman had purchased the bowl. That set was bound and determined to stay with us. Then the angels came and packed up all of our leftovers, and as Rich and I walked arm-in-arm into our empty garage, sitting on the shelf was the box of—you guessed it—12 punch cups.
I guess that’s the punch line.

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