Afterthoughts on the great garage sale experiment

Well, only got 9 hours of sleep, not the 12 I was anticipating. Was awoken once by my noisy neighbors around 10 or 11. Groggily responded to a few ‘how did it go?’ texts and comments then crashed again.

Woke up a few hours ago and lay in bed awake in the dark for awhile then finally got up and made food, washed dishes. Easing my way back into eating with an almond milk, Greek yogurt, egg protein powder, banana, raspberry and blueberry smoothie. In the 24+ hours I was awake working on the garage sale all I ate as a bit of leftover rice and salmon, a bunch of coffee and a clif bar. Eating makes me sleepy and tired, especially when I’m already that way, so I just fueled myself with coffee and adrenalin.

Now I’m sitting in bed with the iPad and the cat, with all the drapes pulled open awaiting the sunrise. Then I will get dressed and go retrieve my friends clothing rack, tables, lights and extension cords. I had a very nicely staged, well lit booth I was quite proud of thanks to Mary and Jenny. I managed to look very approachable without looking like a small business. I wore one of my fleur de lis Saints tees and even put on a little makeup to hide some of the exhaustion that was showing around my eyes.

Was it worth it? Did I have fun? No and no. There’s a (really) long blog post building in my head on the etiquette and machinations (thanks Aaron;-) of flea markets and garage sales, I hope it comes to fruition, it sounded brilliant to me in my sleep deprived haze yesterday. I’ve had a lot of garage sales at my homes and they are always stressful but this was a full fledged flea market, run by just me and it tops them all. At least a solid weeks worth of serious, backbreaking work (and an additional two weeks of worrying and stress) went into this endeavor for a net profit of $436 (I forgot to deduct the price of the booth). And I chipped my new shellac manicure, which is nearly impossible to do, so there’s another $40 bucks I have to spend.

It was a good way to get rid of a lot of small stuff fast, it was an interesting psychological project. I got to pull out my 15 years of retail skills and dust them off and see if they were still functioning. It was 7 straight hours of small talk, chit chat, repeating the same explanations to the point where I became unsure if I had actually said them aloud. I am not enough of a people person to be around that many people in such a small area, and have to engage most of them in some sort of conversation (‘good morning’ was the bare minimum) for that many hours straight. I was having flashbacks to working sales at Foley’s back in the early 80’s, before the economic depression, when we would have sales or weekend days like on a regular basis. But yesterday was extremely claustrophobic, there were no down times to sit down and take a break, I scrambled just to get two bathroom breaks. It was four round trip car trips (and another one or probably two) this morning hauling things back and forth, wasting gas.

Anything else I find in my home I don’t want or need is going to freecycle or someone requesting it on Craigslist, which is where all of my packing boxes have gone to. Recycled to someone who needs them and can’t afford to buy them from uhaul like i did. The only part of yesterday that was really worth it to me was the opportunity to give away (or sell for dirt cheap) things to people who really appreciated and needed or really wanted them. I felt like Santa Claus. After midway through the day, if I actually saw a spark of enthusiasm in someone’s eyes, I went out of my way to help them. I let small children (who’s eyes lit up looking at my glass cats like mine did when I was that age and saw a horse figurine or toy) pick one for free (as long as their parents allowed it).

It was fun listening to enlightened folk chiding their spouses about not at least flip through my box of free books ‘because you should always at least stop and look through any box that’s labeled ‘free books’ 😉 The last hour of the sale I gave away everything from clothes, to shoes to an old VCR. Some people looked grateful, some looked at me like I was nuts, several tried to pay me anyway, and some grabbed their loot and quickly disappeared as if afraid I’d suddenly realize what a mistake I’d made and demand it back.

But the next time I find myself with too many things the few valuable ones will go on eBay or Craigslist, the rest will go to charity (the one that picked up everyones leftovers yesterday, Bridge House, will accept virtually anything) or be given to someone that really wants or needs it. The monetary compensation is not worth it. I can honestly say that being a 9-1-1 operator pays much better and is much less stressful than running an all day, high volume garage sale ;-). I’m just happy it’s over and I got to pass the burden of so many things (some I’ve been moving from place to place since my first apartment) to people who can make good use of them and love them like I once did. I don’t know how many pounds it was, but I feel at least 150 square feet lighter today.

Going to play some Angry Birds and await the dawn now 😉

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