Monday, June 14, 2010

My Big Fat Shameful Yard Sale

It took me two days to recuperate from our yard sale.

We used to pull off a yard sale in Hoboken with two days notice. (Actually, in Hoboken, they’re called Gate Sales. Because no one has a yard. We all had little black wrought iron gates that delineated which cement was part of our property and which cement was the public walkway.) We could buzz around town and hang up signs and then cart some stuff out, fill up our 6-step stoop and 17-feet of sidewalk with our wares, and get rid of a quick closets worth of junk in a few hours.

Here, in Montclair, it’s a much bigger production, with newspaper ads and town permits and folding tables galore.

And shame.

There’s something about having a yard sale in this town that always feels shameful to me and I don’t know why. It’s the exact same process: The sale is called for 9AM. People start cruising your lot at 7:30, finally expecting entree by 8:30. Those 8:30 hard-cores clean you out of most anything of value, piling their choices high in their arms, asking for a price, then asking if you’ll take half of that price.

The next two hours are a constant stream of regular “salers” – the husband goes through the CDs for 45 minutes while the wife sits with you on the porch and chats. By 11 o’clock, you’re done. Maybe you’ll get another few people dropping by, but since you listed 3PM as the end time in the ad, you really need to keep everything out until then.

One neighbor came by and said she was once considering having a yard sale but couldn’t bear the idea of strangers picking through her things all day. “Maybe I could do a one-hour sale,” she mused. “Eight to nine. Done.”

I don’t know why I always feel like I’m in a state of apology with our suburban sales. People make you feel like anything over $1 is priced too high. After two people balked at the price of my brand-new-with-the-price-tag-still-on-it evening bag, I got so annoyed I just took it back into the house.

The last hours of the day were spent bagging the remains for various exit strategies: Red Cross, the town Swap Meet, library donations, and, of course, The Curb.

“You know what’s really depressing?” said my husband later that evening, when neither of us could still hold our heads upright. “We own things that nobody wants…not even for a dollar.”

Yes, we do. Such a shame.

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