Blossoming garage sale signs are as sure an indication of spring as the arrival of robins and dandelions. Signs pop up on boulevards, wrapped around poles, and tacked to public bulletin boards.
Warm weather seems to prod people to clean closets, basements, and garages. They do the toss, keep, and give-away routine. In many cases, the drive to a thrift store follows, or an agency is called to pick up unwanted items.
For others, an idea hits: garage sale.
There are various kinds: a single household, a family affair, several neighbours, a church event. A recent ad in the The Sou’wester advertised a community sale coming in early June.
As well, garage sale goers fall into a number of types. There are the planners who search out ads and plot the most efficient route for visiting the most sales in the shortest time. Others prefer local sales only and drive around their neighbourhood stopping whenever a garage sign beckons. Then there are those who stop on a whim without any pre-planning.
Some shoppers look at anything and everything. Some focus in on specific items. One friend always homes in on paperback murder mysteries.
I must admit I’m not a garage sale aficionado. I usually stumble on them on morning walks with my neighbour. I stop at the end of the driveway and do a quick scan. If nothing catches my eye I keep on going unless my neighbour spots something of interest.
However, since neither of us carries any money, things can get problematic if we actually want to make a purchase. We have two choices. One is to have the item set aside, turn homeward, get cash and head back. The second is to finish our walk, and when we come home decide whether we really need to pick up some money and return.
The last two years we made a plan to stop at a local church sale. Planning meant I had a few dollars in my pocket. More importantly, I brought my husband along.
The first year I bought two small folding slatted tables well worn from being left in the rain. I paid a loonie for each of them, smiled at my husband, and while he carried them home, my neighbour and I continued our walk.
Those two tables ended up being a money and time pit. I sanded and sanded. I applied undercoating. I sanded again. Then I applied two coats of black paint which refused to go on smoothly. My toonie investment cost more than $30 when paints, brushes, and sandpaper purchases were added on. But the tables with plants on them look great in our living room.
The next year I bought another plant stand for another loonie. Again my husband carried it home while I kept on walking.
I left the scarred top of that stand alone. A plant covers most of the circle stains anyway.
This year I’m leaving my husband at home and I’m walking right by the sale.
Jeannette Timmerman is a Richmond West-based writer.
Neighbourhood Forum is a readers’ column. If you live in The Sou’wester area and would like to contribute to this column, contact email@example.com.