The brightly colored signs have been placed on street corners all over town, with arrows pointing to that special house down the street. People have scoured and streamlined their garages, turning their driveways into storefront windows, ready to turn a profit on their once-treasured possessions. Even kids get in on the action, sometimes setting up cute little lemonade stands out front to offer passersby a refreshing drink.
On a sunny afternoon walk recently, I saw these signs sprouting up all over the place. One thing was clear: Those neon signs were meant to make a statement. And a bold one, at that.
Welcome to Garage Sale Season.
One gander online, and it didn’t take me long to get an inside peek into the world of garage and yard sales. This is no longer a “let’s-throw-a-garage-sale-on-a-whim” sort of thing like it used to be in the olden days. People have now made this into a sort of cutthroat business. Hard-core sellers even devote Web sites and blogs to logging what they’re selling and how much they’ve made.
But then it hit me: In these tough, cutthroat economic times, it makes perfectly good sense. Sort of brilliant, actually. Garage sales (and let’s not forget one of my favorite shopping hot spots, The Salvation Army – site of my 15-polo-shirts impulse buy last May) are the new Saks and Bloomingdale’s. And seeing that the dawning of Garage Sale Season is only beginning, I can’t help but wonder: These times may be tough, but does that mean we still can’t be the epitome of a stylish recessionista fashionista, especially with the help of our neighborly garage sales?
MORE JUICE AFTER THE JUMP…
I’ve long been a fan of the classic garage sale. Thanks to my mother, it’s always been one of my favorite outdoor adventures. I imagine it’s much like those sprawling New York City flea markets, only on a smaller scale and with the trademark Midwestern charm. For years, my mother and I spent a lovely sunny day strolling all through area neighborhoods. We just took our time (one advantage of garage sales: No heavy crowds to battle like those big-city flea markets or one of those gigantic warehouse stores), walking around and browsing each table in every garage. My mother, of course, took her time and was usually distracted by all the books and CDs – the CDs usually being of the Broadway songs or Christmas songs variety.
“What about this one?” she’d ask, handing me a gem of a CD for 25 cents.
“That looks good,” I replied.
I couldn’t help but notice how cute, bouncy and happy she looked, her smile growing brighter with each new find. We’d eventually comb the entire neighborhood, usually having to stop and rest at one of those lemonade stands (Those kids, I’ll say, were very business savvy), and walk home with at least one new book (usually a medical book to add to my mother’s collection) and a few CDs (again, usually one of Christmas tunes to add to my mother’s collection). Last year, I even scored the most beautiful shot glass. For free. I think of the lovely lady who gave it to me every time I do shots of apple juice to drown out my economic woes.
That’s the beauty of garage sales. They’re like a huge block party, reminiscent of something you would have seen in 1950’s suburban America. Not only that, but you can find anything your little heart desires. Literally. Garage sales are huge ebay auctions, only in real-time and with better prices. Out-of-print. Out-of-stock. Out-of-style – if you search enough garage sales, I guarantee that you’ll find what you’re looking for. Somewhere in someone’s garage. Beanie babies. Barbie’s and action figures from the 1980s. Classic Danielle Steele novels. And who could ever forget that childhood favorite – the Etch-a-Sketch.
It’s all ripe for the taking.
Besides, even if you’re not in the buying mood (and if you’re not, I suggest you seek medical attention immediately; my mother could very well have a book that could help you), it’s worth garage sale-ing (and yes, I just coined that verb myself) for the sheer excitement of the experience. It gets you outside, interacting with people, getting to know your neighbors (and what their wares say about them).
And you never know, you might just find that elusive shot glass to complete your collection. Finally. Maybe you’ll even get it for free, too.
Remember, what’s one man’s (or woman’s) trash is indeed another man (or woman’s) treasure. Get out there and find those treasures today. And while you’re at it, buy a glass of lemonade from those cute kids too.