I needed a sign on my car that stated ” this vehicle makes frequent and sudden stops”. I was the designated driver for ferrying my daughter to garage sales. The fact my only desire was to drive and not peruse sales made me an ideal candidate. A vehicle that has a person with driver only status enables driveway blocking drop offs, next value roll-aheads and efficient pickup departures.
The initial instructions were simple: drive slow and look for signs. It is a belief of sales pickers that garage sellers who invest in good signage have better stuff to sell. On the job training filled what I needed to learn. Don’t back track on the route, it wastes time. Roll-bys at the optimum speed are a needed driving skill to enable a quick scan of seller sundries to assess if there is a need for a full stop and table walk.
Breaking parking rules is expected; parking on both sides of the street is a requirement. The only traffic patrol visible was a matron of Royalwood vintage, shooting from the house to the curb like a frog’s tongue, to pick off those that try to stop in the cul-de-sac. Expect a verbal lashing for parking in front of any driveway, even to sample the wares of her apologizing neighbours.
Morning is the best time to venture out for picking. Yard sale signs pop up on curbs like worms up from the ground after a good rain. Experienced yard sale scavengers know the driveway and garage displayed jetsam is ripe and will not have been picked over early in the morning. Keeping track of good picking areas from past years is one way to ensure a bumper crop. Like berry pickers they are drawn to the prediction that past performance will reflect future gains.
It is early in garage sale season. You can tell this by the colour of the skin on the picking lice. Bleached white legs and arms sticking out from cargo shorts and wife beaters are soaking up the morning sun. Kids broken from their leash take advantage of the free punching bags and rolling toys while their custodians are caught in a haggle from 25 to 10 cents. “I got to pee” is a mercy cry from one offspring that goes unnoticed for fear it will cause a premature sale of some good stuff to another buyer.
A gaggle of women are disgorged from a white panelled van. A painter palette of colours and a textile mill of patterns adorn the dresses that fall from shoulders to feet. The attire of all are topped off with skull caps of black. A dog tethered to a back pack carrying male harnessed to a plastic wagon, pushing a double capacity baby carriage is the entourage of the purple moomoo clad flip flop flapping female toting a purse the size of airline carry on luggage.
Picking is not for the faint of heart. $95 dollars for a purse; it’s a garage sale lady, not a boutique. Don’t stop there, that is all kids stuff. I’m not getting out for that small table. Two can dine for $4.99 at the curb side cart selling hot dogs, smokies and drinks. The ring of the bells on the ice cream pedal cart signals the delivery of the dessert menu.
A kids’ lemonade stand offers lemonade or iced tea for 50 cents. A would be buyer is trying for a deal. All the money in his closed hand for one drink, or the drink for the price on the sign — the drink vendors can choose. The young entrepreneurs, over watched by mom, are torn on how to handle the business offer. A passerby encourages the hand. With the deal closed, the libation seller increased their profits ten fold by taking the hand.
I have no understanding why these weekend occurrences have such an attraction. Families parading their discarded wears on tables at the house frontage so scavengers can pick them over for purchase at shekels less than posted because the haggle is just as important as the item. The idea of a possible bargain on commodities that are not needed, can’t be ignored, or you might miss a good deal.
I speculate garage sale picking comes from the need to forage that is ingrained in our DNA. A family from our cave man ancestry would head into the wilderness looking to bring back nature’s bounty. Now suburbia with multifamily tabled offerings at one location, replace the plains and forests of our search domain. Who doesn’t like a good forage. I’ve been known to put down the worn button TV remote and leave the comfort of living room couch to shepherd into the kitchen and forage for beer and nuts.