• BIG news,  crazy stuff,  Family Matters,  the sticks

    A smashing success! Who knew!

    move 'em out, close 'em up

    Surprise surprise! Today’s estate sale was a complete success. It was really really really weird. We put up the signs and people just kept coming and coming and coming. I don’t think more than twenty minutes went by where people weren’t milling about buying things. At the busiest point there were twenty people in the living room at one time. It was a bit of a zoo actually.

    Do you have any money?

    Pots and pans and dusty picture frames flew out of here like they were going out of style. Towels and kids’ jeans were also hot items. Everybody bought things. You were right Lori, people will buy junk. My mom is reading this over my shoulder as I type and she is telling me it is not junk. I think she’s half right. Anyway, it was amazing. I think we made $300…which, sure, won’t pay any mortgage payments or anything but is a lot more than any of us expected for a garage sale on a THURSDAY. Who goes to garage sales and estate sales on Thursdays?!!

    I guess a lot of people do.

    I’m not sure if it was the very effective signs I made (cough cough) or the fact that estate sales are more popular because people like milling through dead people’s stuff or because there’s not much else to do out here in the sticks on a Thursday. But I think it had a lot to do with the location. While my Grandpa lived on a small cul-de-sac, the connecting street is quite a main thoroughfare. All the other sales we’ve held were at my mom’s house which really was out in the dusty sticks. I think we got a lot of traffic here because there just plain was a lot of traffic.

    The lunch crowd was crazy. People dressed in their doctor’s-office smocks were buying up all sorts of things. I’m thinking a lot of family members are getting used teacups for Christmas this year. The sewing supplies went fast too. People are getting crafty when they are poor. Maybe this downturn in the economy was just what we needed to get back to basics.

    Of course we only charged ten cents and five cents for many things so naturally they flew out of here. But it was good. So gooooood! Freeing! And don’t worry relatives, nothing antique or valuable was sold for five cents. The good stuff is still marked with market values and we’ll hold onto that until the end. We might even break out the old ebay passwords and put a little work into getting top dollar.


    Or maybe I will be the one ebaying stuff since I was basically useless today. I refused to make change (I hate doing math on even the most rudimentary level). I know nothing about bartering and most of the time I just watched my kid and drank coffee. Which is very important of course. I also took pictures because I’m the official documenter of such things.

    book shuffler

    I think I herded a few people away from trying to buy things out of the kitchen (where we kept things that weren’t for sale) and maybe got my mom’s attention when somebody needed a price but other than that, I wasn’t much help. I didn’t stop that one person who stole the stopper out of a wine decanter though. Can you believe it? Someone stole a glass stopper. How rude. I guess some thievery is to be expected.

    "Eba eyes"

    I’ll have to sick my daughter with the evil “Eba eyes” on them next time. Maybe I should make her in charge of greeting people and checking receipts. Just kidding. I’m keeping my daughter next to me. Stopper schmopper—I’m too afraid of someone trying to steal her!

    the face of mischief

    The kids have actually been very very good. They had their own store set up in the back and made quite a killing selling happy-meal toys. Unfortunately, a lot of those toys are magically back in the house with them but all in all they did a good job being good kids. We took them (and us) out for pizza as a reward. That’s a tradition in our family: we always buy pizza with our earnings. We figure after we inhale that much dust and burn off that many calories lifting things and being on our feet all day, we deserve it. Usually that’s all we can afford with our earnings but this time there’s plenty for pizza and some. Which is really really cool.

    If the rest of the sale days go as well as today went, I might have to reconsider my position on junk.

    Nevermind, that’s just crazy talk.

  • Family Matters,  spilling my guts,  the sticks

    The state of the Estate Sale

    Nancy Drew and The Making of Modern America

    I have to admit I’ve been pretty discouraged with how the Estate Sale is going. It hasn’t even started yet (it’s five am and I’m banging out a post before the sale starts at 8am) and I feel like I’m looking my family’s carbon imprint right in the face. Box after box I unpacked yesterday only to discover stained clothes, broken electronics, dusty coffee makers minus their carafes and a whole lot of junk that probably nobody will buy. Normal people would take this stuff to the dump. We try to sell it.

    discount alley

    We are selling a lot of my grandparents things too that are quite valuable but we’re also trying to get rid of junk that probably been collected from five or six different households over the last fifty years. My mom has been having garage sales for as long as I can remember. People know she likes to have sales so they contribute. While that is great and all, unfortunately instead of getting rid of everything after a sale is done, she’s held onto it. And every year it’s dustier and more depressing. The good stuff sells and we’re left with the (what I would call) trash. My Mom says she gets rid of stuff but I have my doubts. I think she tries.

    The weather plays a big part too. There is never enough room for everything so things are crammed into sheds that leak, garages that are dustier than the wild west and in the latest case, tarps in the driveway that flap open and get rummaged through by the neighborhood kids.

    As households combine, break apart and then combine again, (my brother and his family moving in and out of my mom’s house) things that normally would be thrown away or be put in storage are stacked neatly and put under “temporary” tarps until lives get sorted out. Of course lives never sort out the way we want them to so the stuff spills over telling it’s own sad story.

    For some reason in our family there are no crazy fights where boxes are thrown into the back of a truck and someone takes everything to the dump in a mad huff. Sometimes I wish that would happen. At worst we bicker and then resort to sorting through each other’s things when they are not around. Silly silly stuff that we attach emotional value to.


    I’ve written about my struggle with my family and their tendency to collect stuff before. This is really nothing new and not (supposed to be) the subject of this post. Because while it is difficult to be in the middle of it all, there is still part of me that brightens when I see something here in the midst of the rubble that dates back to 1965 or even beyond. Sometimes it’s cool to stumble across a box of your old drawings from second grade tossed in with bills and receipts and birthday cards that have been chewed up by mice. Most likely the pack rat gene is embedded in me too.

    Of course the difference between this sale and all the other garage sales that I’ve been part of all my life is that this sale is an Estate Sale of my Grandpa’s things. That’s how it all started really. My Grandpa moved into a fancy old folk’s home and my mom moved into his small trailer. Now we are trying to sell all of his things and her things so she can have some room to move about. Collecting is great but having a living room to walk about is even better.


    Some of these things are valuable. My mom’s latest hobby is researching depression glass and Royal Dalton plates and who knows what else… She likes to dream big. I’m not sure. I don’t know if the crashing economy is going to make people want to buy used things more or send them packing because we don’t take credit cards. I’m not getting my hopes up. We probably won’t be able to get as much for the plates and things as an antique dealer could or even someone who has an account on ebay or etsy but we’ll try. Or we’ll die trying or something…


    In God We Trust

    So between the sentimentality, the family obsession with collecting and the dirt, dust and grime, I think we’re up to our ears in the Estate Sale. Which is scheduled to begin about two hours. Excuse me, I gotta go put up some signs.

    Estate Sale Sign Here

    Hopefully I’ll live to post about it.