Internet garage sales? Say no more.
I am happy to report I am part of the community comprising the WNY Virtual Garage Sale and 716 Furniture For Sale, two local virtual marketplaces. I’m also discovering Buffalo Garage Sale, and my favorite: Buffalo and WNY Internet Garage, Estate, Moving and Everything Sale. All these group are communities of at least 6,000.
But there’s no topping the traditional garage sale.
Like crocuses, they’re just beginning to pop up, after a winter of hibernation. Anticipation is in the air, with good reason.
Garage sales – and their foul-weather cousins, estate sales – are more than vehicles for buying and selling. They are our public square.
I can name three friends I met because I went to their garage sales. Garage sales get people out in the open air and talking to strangers, a minor miracle in our iPhone era. They require social skills.
Shoppers have to greet the sellers. “Nice day for a sale.” “Hope it doesn’t rain.” They can’t just type, as someone recently did on a local Facebook group: “Hello I’m looking to buy a washer & dryer a fridge and a freezer and a stove post pictures location and asking price I can pick up any time thanx.”
Sellers, for their part, can be creative by making their sales attractive and welcoming. At one sale, clothes hung creatively from trees. At another, a student string quartet was playing. And speaking of music, yet another seller had a boom box playing Herb Alpert. It was so campy and fun. You bet that I bought.
True, there is something poetic about this description of a Keurig coffee machine, seen on one local Facebook selling site: “Nothing wrong works perfectly fine just need money need gone asap.” But I would hate to see the art of the brick-and-mortar garage sale lost, as people sit home typing and arranging their silent, faceless sales and pickups.
Luckily, the traditional garage sale is not going anywhere. Let’s consider more practical matters.
At garage sales, you can get up close and personal with the merchandise. Does the shoe fit? Who knows, if the shoe is online? That coat is so pretty but you hold it up and – oh, darn, it’s just a little too big. But that one over there – that’s perfect.
Items that would never attract you online can call out to you in person. I already owned a copy of Mendelssohn’s “Songs Without Words,” a set of pieces I love to play on the piano. I was not in the market for another. Then, at a sale, I saw one, picked it up, and – oh, look! In antiquated cursive, an inscription read: “From Father, Christmas 1897.” The owner had written all the names of the pieces in careful script. Sold.
It’s often the little garage sale items that make your day – a candle, a coffee cup, an antique mixing bowl. Things like that wouldn’t be worth buying or selling on Facebook. Going sale-ing, as my mom always called it, is entertaining. You make a day of it. You stop for lunch.
Now for the nitty gritty. Or, shall we say, the stuffed, gently used elephant in the room.
Garage sale holders want to sell. They took all this stuff out of the house. They do not want to move it back in.
This situation benefits buyer and seller. As a Saturday stretches on, supply and demand economics kick in, and bargains multiply. By the end of the day, some garage sale holders just want to be rid of what’s left.
They get rid of it. We end up with it. Either way, everyone is happy.
Let the season begin.