When I'm not at the bookstore, I can usually be found looking for books. And once warm weather hits, one of the best places to find books is at garage sales. Which is a good thing, because I love garage sales.
I love not knowing what I'll come home with on any given day. I love finding something that I actually need or something unique that I don't. I love finding something that I would have acutally bought at a store, but now don't have to. I love the randomness of it. And the mutual satisfaction--me with my purchase and them with their sale.
It's always been my theory that if you want something, you'll eventually find it over the course of a season of garage sales. Although I admit that I'm having some trouble finding cookie sheets that look better than the ones I need to throw away. Still, it's early. The season is young.
Saturday was a good day. I came home with some like new Ugg boots close enough to my size that they'll work, a 24 x 24 Georgia O'Keefe framed print, a new coffee maker that I later saw got terrible reviews, but that worked fine this morning, and the last two books in the Hunger Games trilogy that people have been asking for. It was a good day.
It was better than the previous week when I came home a little bit depressed. It happens sometimes.
There are tells with garage sales. A lemonade stand next to the street tells you that the tables are mainly going to be filled with kids clothes and toys. Drive on if you're not thirsty or don't have kids to buy for. A table with lots of unopened boxes of toothpaste and Hamburger Helper tells you that this is an extreme couponer and that prices are going to be higher than you like. A sale with any type of price tags other than stickers or masking tape tells you that this is a business and not really a garage sale. And a sale with tableclothes on the tables tells you that this is an older couple, often times getting ready to leave their house for a downsized apartment or assisted living.
It's the last ones that leave me drepressd. We stopped at one the previous weekend.
Every table had a tablecloth--neatly pressed and with the overhangs on all four sides evenly draped. There were no haphazard groupings of unmatched items to rifle through and no overflowing boxes that might have had a treasure hidden at the bottom. Rather, everything was displayed on tables, cleaner than most things found in my cabinets, and organized by type, with enough space between each item to showcase the individual pieces. The garage floor had been swept.
You know that this has been a project; that the couple has done it together, probably over a period of weeks. It was their reason for skipping church on Sunday and for parking the car in the driveway the last few weeks, even though they don't like to do that.
There have been little arguments about what would go and what would stay, with some things being negotiated.
"You can keep your salt and pepper shakers, but only if I can keep my Lincoln books."
"I'm not sure we'll have room for both the china cabinet and the bookshelf."
"I suppose we could combine them."
And there have been discussions about what they would need.
"We're going to need the TV tables."
"We can eat at the dinette."
"But there won't be room for a TV in the kitchen."
Prices for each item have been discussed and finally agreed upon as reasonable, although not always in line with actual garage sale prices because they aren't garage sale shoppers.
Everything has a history, which you find out if you pick up one of the little spoons or the hat with the hat pin. There is no quick sweep here, because they want you to know the history. There are items from travels, including twenty year old travel books--kept for many years, but no longer needed. Clip-on earrings bought at stores that are closed now and worn to cocktail parties and company dinners. Gloves worn to church and weddings and, perhaps, funerals. Serving pieces from family dinners and potlucks, a few with small chips that don't affect function. All items that their children, if they have any, had no interest in and that there is not enough room for in their downsized space.
I walked between the tables, fingering the costume jewelry and looking through the neatly stacked pile of older hardback books. The couple watched. There weren't as many people here as at the sale across the street.
I didn't see a thing I wanted. Or needed. I bought a book anyway.