Graves: Making a garage saler


Linda and Sid Johnson of Gilmer shop for bargains at a garage sale in October 2017 in the Forest Lake neighborhood. (Les Hassell/News-Journal File Photo)

Garage sales are a little ridiculous if you think about it. As a society we spend untold millions trying to protect the sanctity of our homes from intrusion, and then we have garage sales, where the entire point is to lure nosy strangers onto our property to rummage through our personal belongings.

I spend most of my time at garage sales fighting off my three daughters from hauling merchandise back into the house.

And let’s face it: The stuff we put up for sale at these events is one “Thanks for coming” away from the city dump. I mean, who really wants to purchase a Target sack full of used My Little Pony underwear? (Oh, never mind. I actually got a dollar for those.)

One thing I’ve noticed is that there are certain types of folks who attend my garage sales, and what better way to show how “woke” I am than to categorize people?

The Early BirdIn this case, The Early Bird is a vulture, or, as we call them in East Texas, a “buzzard.” They’re the shoppers who can’t wait for you to open your garage door at 7 a.m. and have apparently been sleeping on the lawn. On the first day of my most recent sale, they actually began opening boxes that I hadn’t put out yet, helping me arrange them. It was as if they felt sorry for my having to get up so early. And they should! As the old saying goes, “The early bird gets the slightly-stained Justin Bieber bedroom set.”

The LingererThis is the shopper who apparently enjoys my company (or the aroma of my garage) because he or she won’t leave. Recently, a Lingerer spent at least a full hour carefully examining every one of the 700,000 articles of tween girls’ clothing I had for sale, and she eventually purchased a single pair of socks for a dime. She was there so long I’ll probably be able to claim her as a dependent on my next tax return.

The Childcare DeflectorWarning! If you include even a single toy in your garage sale, weary mothers with at least 16 children each will use you for babysitting. While The Childcare Deflector leisurely browses through a massive box of mismatched Tupperware, her army of children will violate every known Hasbro safety guideline. The Childcare Deflector is oblivious to the chaos visited upon my inventory by her progeny (or at least pretends to be), and she buys nothing, not even a single warped Tupperware lid.

The HagglerHagglers are seasoned garage sale shoppers who imagine they’re trading in the bazaars of Istanbul. They can bring down the price on a gently used toilet seat from a dollar to a nickel, and they’re fully aware that you might actually pay them to haul away this junk.

The AnnouncerThe Announcer is almost always a middle-aged man, usually wearing a white T-shirt he outgrew in the 1980s, suspenders and camouflaged cargo shorts. About halfway up the driveway, he bellows, “I’m lookin’ for guns and tools!” I then have to admit that the only two guns I own were sympathy gifts from my dad (and I’m not exactly sure where they are), and most of my tools are still in their original packages. The Announcer does buy a box of doorknobs.

The Last-MinuteThe Last-Minute catches you by surprise as you’re sweeping the garage and packing up what’s left. You haven’t had a shopper for an hour, and you’re contemplating your next trip to Walmart where you’ll blow everything you earned at the sale on ham and deodorant. The Last-Minute always morphs into The Lingerer, so you sweat for another hour and earn a whole quarter on a NASCAR coffee cup.

Once the Last-Minute finally tears himself away, I sprint to put down the garage door. I still have some work ahead packing and cleaning, but I always feel a strong sense of satisfaction at what I’ve accomplished. In fact, I usually start planning my next sale.

I have to hurry, though. The buzzards are already setting up tents on the lawn.

— Jase Graves, a Longview resident, is a columnist with Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate and a regular contributor to the News-Journal.

Today's Bible verse

“These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”

— Deuteronomy 6:6-7

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