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Little Spouse On The Prairie: Garage Sale Day

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We’ve been talking about garage sale season, and I realized after last week’s show that I had more to discuss regarding these summer staples of the high plains...

We’ve been talking about garage sale season, and I realized after last week’s show that I had more to discuss regarding these summer staples of the high plains. I love both ends of the yard sale spectrum. Nothing beats bringing home other people’s junk, but coming in a close second is getting rid of my own discards and making a little money in the process.

A friend of mine recently made over a thousand bucks at her annual rummage sale, and a teacher acquaintance actually hosts weekly sales all summer long as her second job! And she makes more money there than she does teaching.

Typically, I’ll call a friend or two and we’ll decide to host a gigantic sale in my front yard. The reason we often choose my place is that I live on Main Street, which, even in a little bitty town like mine, is still the busiest street for commerce.

I think the funniest thing that has happened when hosting my own garage sale unfolded before I had kids. Side note: Planning garage sales before kids is much easier because a person doesn’t have to deal with children who don’t want their parents to sell their stuff. Although I do admit that after kids, one has a lot more crap to get rid of.

Anyway, a number of years ago, two close friends, I’ll call them 'Friend One' and 'Friend Two,' and I decided to put together a really attractive display for our yard sale. We covered the tables with vintage tablecloths, organized all of our clothes in outfits on hanging racks, placed furniture in charming arrangements, and even laid out area rugs in our little outdoor rooms. After a lot of work, everything looked so amazing, we wondered why we were selling it in the first place. And I will admit, that this particular garage sale ended up as more of a swap among friends than a moneymaking venture.

About 10 minutes before we were set to open (in other words, about the time five or six early birds were already going through stuff in the yard), I made an alarming discovery. One of the items that 'Friend One' planned to sell was a pretty basket full of candles, napkins, stationery, frames, and other cute knickknacks. The problem? I knew the basket had been a gift from 'Friend Two,' because I had also been the recipient of said basket at our Christmas party a mere six months ago.

My eyes darted to 'Friend Two' to see if she had spied her lovely gesture being paraded out for commercial gain. The travesty was made worse by the fact that 'Friend One' had priced the adorable basket at only one dollar! 'Friend Two' was across the yard arranging another table, and I didn’t think she had seen the basket yet.

“Psst! Psst! 'Friend One!' Get your rear end over here! 'Friend Two' just gave that to you as a gift! What are you thinking?”

“She did? Oh no! I forgot. Crap! Help me get it out of here!” my forgetful friend whispered.

It was too late. 'Friend Two' approached the table with the basket, and though we tried to look as nonchalant as possible, she picked up the gift. It was one of those situations that there was just no graceful way to escape. Though 'Friend One' hemmed and hawed about, mumbling something about, “How did that get out here? I wasn’t meaning to sell that,” the damage was done. Awkward!

One might believe that a situation like this would arise only rarely, but truth be told, I’ve stumbled across two separate gifts that I myself gave at garage sales. One was an adorable picnic basket with matching melamine dishes, a tablecloth, and flatware I had given a relative for his wedding. Hey -- lasted longer than the marriage did! Apparently, the couple went on very few picnics together.

The other was a first edition of a book for which an English teacher friend and I shared a love. I was glad to get that back too, as I had really struggled to give it to her and had long coveted it.

I can’t decide whether I need to get better at gift-giving, or whether I should buy presents I love and then hit the garage sales a few months later.

Tell me stories of garage sale finds on social media at Little Spouse on the Prairie at facebook.com/ littlespouseontheprairie and on Twitter at SpouseOnThePrairie@ValerieKuchera.