Somethings Are Easier in Retirement

My friend, former co-worker, and garage-sale-organizer extraordinaire Linda and I co-host biennial garage sales. It isn’t easy; however, the time retirement affords makes it easier to pull off than it was when I was working. Last Friday and Saturday we pulled off a doozey.

My garage, after being purged of its two-year build up of garage-sale purchased I-might-someday-need-this items was swept, tarped, tabled and generally transformed into a retailing destination for bargain hunters and future garage-sale-conducting customers.

These are not run-of-the-mill sales. Weeks are spent sorting and pricing. Days leading up to the sale are spent staging the afore-mentioned sorted and priced merchandise. The day of the sale begins at six a.m. as signs are strategically placed throughout my neighborhood. We no longer risk sign deployment the day before the sale after being the victims of garage-sale-sign rip off. Four years ago we carefully placed our brightly-colored, custom-made signs the night before the sale, only to find, on the morning of the sale, that they had all been removed; no doubt by some working stiff who did not have the time (nor the laminator) to make his own garage-sale signs.

I did purchase some ready-made signs from Dollar Tree “where everything is a dollar.” You have to be careful not to purchase over-priced items. It’s a classic case of buyer beware. An elderly woman behind me in the check-out line said, “So, you’re having a garage sale.” I replied yes, and she went on to share her tale of a garage sale. She explained how weekend after weekend she would drag her belongings out to her driveway, and then sit next to those items all day under the hot sun. At the end of the day, she would drag in the things she had dragged out that morning; her burden not lightened by any sales. She finally gave up her weekend marketing attempts, and threw away everything she had been trying to sell. Her attempt at garage selling had been a classic case of garbage out – garbage back in. The merchandise offered up at our sale is of a higher quality, and our pricing strategy is that if you can buy a similar item at a dollar store, don’t price our item over fifty cents.

After signs are placed, canopies are erected to protect our patrons (and us) from the harsh New Mexico sun, and items that the garage could not accommodate, are placed under the shade-providing canopies. Our check-out table is stocked with calculator, bags, tissue paper (for wrapping the delicate breakable items) and our garage-sale notebook, in which we adhere the initialed price stickers we will refer to when divvying up the proceeds. Whew!

We then spend the day attending to our customers’ questions, restocking and reorganizing tables, while sipping our signature “Garage Sale” drink (seltzer water, juice and Moscato).

This year, not one person asked, “So, how much do you want for this garage?” (my Dad’s favorite garage-sale ice breaker). People were generally pleasant, and we engaged them in our happy “Garage Sale” drink-induced fog.

Sunday is spent retrieving signs, packing up and donating unsold merchandise, and returning my garage to vehicle accommodation mode.

It’s Post-Garage-Sale-Monday and I should be taking advantage of my retirement status, to sleep in, but I’m not. Being retired doesn’t always make things easier, but it always makes things more enjoyable. I’m going to enjoy the nap I take this afternoon, during the time that I was working the Monday following the garage sale we conducted two years ago.

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