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Garage sales are just urban foraging

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Modern-day urban foragers know they’re hot on a trail when they see signs such as these..

PHOTO BY SEAN CONWAY Enlarge Image

Modern-day urban foragers know they’re hot on a trail when they see signs such as these.. Photo Store

I needed a sign on my car that said "This vehicle makes frequent and sudden stops."


It was the weekend and I was the designated driver for ferrying my daughter to garage sales. The fact my only desire was to drive and not peruse made me an ideal candidate. My presence enabled driveway-blocking  dropoffs and efficient pickups.


The initial instructions were simple —drive slow and look for signs.


It is a belief of sales pickers that sellers who invest in good signage have better stuff to sell. On-the-job training filled in what I needed to know — don’t backtrack on the route, it wastes time; roll-bys at the optimum speed enable a quick scan of seller sundries to assess if there is a need for a full stop and table-walk.


Morning is the best time to venture out for picking. Yard sale signs pop up on curbs like worms 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.


It is early in garage sale season. You can tell this by the colour of the skin on the picking lice. Bleached white legs stick out from cargo shorts and pasty arms poking from tank tops soak up the morning sun. A gaggle of women are disgorged from a white panel van. A painters’ palette of colours and a textile mill of patterns adorn the dresses that fall from shoulders to feet. The attire of all is topped off with skull caps of black.


I have no understanding why these weekend offerings have such an attraction.


Families parade their discarded wares so scavengers can pick them over for purchase at shekels less than posted price because the haggle is just as important as the item. A good deal just can’t be ignored even if you don’t need it.


I speculate the weekend passion is from the need to forage ingrained in our DNA. A caveman family member headed into the wilderness looking to bring back nature’s bounty.


Now suburbia, with multi-family offerings at one location replace the plains and forests of the search.


Who doesn’t like a good forage? I’ve even been known to put down the worn TV remote and leave the comfort of the living room couch to forage for beer and nuts in the kitchen.

Sean Conway is a community correspondent for St. Vital.

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