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My View: Value is negotiable at spring garage sales

By Richard Emerling

It is finally spring, a time when an old man's fancy turns to thoughts of ... garage sales.

I'll admit it, I am a garage sale junkie. I am not a hoarder, and I don't usually buy things I have no use for, but I do enjoy a bargain. Who doesn't? There was a time when I avoided garage sales like the plague.

A few years ago my wife and I visited my brother and sister-in-law in Florida, and of course we had to go to a few of the myriad flea markets in the area. We went to a few too many, but enjoyed most of the day. When we returned home, we started checking out garage sales here in Western New York. For several years now, every year we say that I should have a garage sale instead of going to any.

When we deliver Meals on Wheels to a very nice lady who turned 100 in February this year, she often invites us in to see some of her latest purchases from local garage sales. Her son takes her "saleing" almost every Friday. Using her measuring stick, I could still do about 20 more years of garage sales. She doesn't buy any junk, and if we do have a sale this year, I'll be sure to let her know about it.

One thing I'm not very good at is haggling, and will usually pay the asking price for something I really would like to own. Some people refuse to pay the asking price. Once, at a sale, I found a Thelma Winter painting for $10, which was quite a bargain. The lady ahead of me asked the seller if she would take 50 cents for a small picture (not a Thelma Winter), that was priced $1. The seller got the OK from her husband, (seriously?), at which point the buyer pulled out a $20 bill to pay for it. Needless to say, the seller was not amused.

At another sale, I was looking at a multicolored paisley ceramic dolphin that I thought would make a great white elephant gift. The seller said to me, "Isn't that the ugliest thing you ever saw?" When I asked her the price, she said "110 cents." No need to haggle that price. I have given it away three times, and it always finds its way back to me. A family heirloom? Not quite.

Whatever you call them, garage sales, yard sales or tag sales, they can be a lot of fun, and an opportunity to meet some very interesting people.

This just might be the year we have that garage sale. We've already started putting prices on things we're willing to part with, just in case. (I've noticed that most of the things "we're" willing to part with are mine).

We have a room off the back of our garage that we've named "the Summer Room," because it is not heated and is used for storage in the winter.  The room has been described by someone who shall remain nameless as organized clutter. Hey at least it's organized, in the summer. How many of these "treasures" will be available for the sale remains to be seen.

They say everything has its price, but one thing that won't be for sale will be my 10-cent dolphin. It's priceless!

Richard Emerling, of Orchard Park, might finally get around to holding his own garage sale this year.

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