The Garage Sale

From Alan

With the house sold, all we have to do is clear it out and be on our way, right? A single guy would invariably shovel everything into boxes and donate all of it and be done. No problem. A woman who needs to clear out a house will hold a garage sale. For a man, this is an exercise in pure terror. If you have been married any length of time, you probably think you know your woman pretty well. Just wait until she throws a garage sale. The sweet, easy-going, mild mannered lady you know and love gets transformed into an adrenalin-fueled, snap decision wielding, dynamo who can sort, price, and arrange a thousand small items an hour. If she has a friend helping her, the effect is, at minimum, quadrupled.

garage sale tycoons

The week leading up to the sale is decision time. Like it, love it, don’t care about it? Sentimental value, resale value, saw-it-online value. Price accordingly and move on to the next item. If you and your woman are lucky enough to be retired, the show goes on non-stop for days, punctuated by sleepless nights with her worrying about collectible items that nobody collects anymore, that should be worth a lot but nobody buys, that are appraised for thousands but sell for tens.

During the leadup to the sale, your woman may even ask your opinion on how to price something. The best thing to do there is to just run away. I couldn’t tell you how many time we had this conversation:
“How much for this?”
“I dunno, a buck?”
“You idiot, that is worth a least ten.”

You could say something about not asking if you don’t want the answer, but that just puts you further into the doghouse. Best to just stay in the background and carry things around on command. All of the guys I talked to about garage sales have the same sad story to tell, so I am guessing that it has something to do with X chromosomes. Maybe someday a (single) guy will do a study on the phenomenon.

Finally, on Thursday, because that is the traditional garage sale start date (???), the signs go up and the garage-salers come sniffing around. Start at 8:00 and there are always people there at 7:30 to snap up the bargains. Then there are the hagglers: “a dollar for this Chippendale cabinet? I’ll give you 75 cents.” And then there are the Chatters. Suddenly the woman who has been running like crazy for days, sweating over every detail, agonizing over prices, has all the time in the world to chat with everyone that comes along about family, kids, dogs, weather, politics, whatever. After days of cutthroat pricing, the prices start falling, package deals are negotiated, discounts applied.


By Saturday, there is little left of any value to anyone. Prices have fallen to rock bottom, the “FREE” pile has gotten huge, the thrill is gone. Open on Sunday? Don’t think so. Goodwill is open on Sunday and, to see the line of cars full of donations, you would thing everyone else had garage sales too.


BTW, when I told Marylu about blogging, she thought it was a great idea and a good way to keep family and friends up to date on our travels. She wants to write too. I agreed, with the provision that we don’t edit one another. She has been incredibly busy with all of the activities leading up to our traveling, and I give her credit for doing an amazing job and spending incredible amounts of energy on the whole process. Just as soon as she gets some time, she will be writing too. I am looking forward to seeing her side of the story.
Next time: Sioux Falls


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We are two recent retirees who decided to sell the house, pull up stakes, and explore North America. We are both being tourists and looking for the right blend of people, place, and geography that makes for the perfect place to retire.

8 thoughts on “The Garage Sale”

    1. Congratulations on the sale of your house! Oh how I wish I could have been there for your garage sale! Looking forward to your travel updates! Enjoy, enjoy 😀


  1. And that is exactly why I neither do garage sales or attend garage sales. Too much work and too much that I will probably get rid of later anyway. Loved your story about yours however.


    1. I met a woman today that lives in the Fairfield Bay area in a 3,200 foot square house. She is going to list it but has to clear out her “collections”. Keeping in mind that the population is about 2400 people, especially this time of year, that’s a lot of garage sales. So happy we’re past that!


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