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Feeding Frenzy (aka The Garage Sale)

April 3, 2011

It was still dark when we pulled into the line on Saturday morning, the trailer attached behind us, our daughter and son-in-law in front of us in his pickup truck.  Our goal of travelling the country in the RV, sketching, painting and drawing, was coming another step closer.

We had driven down to Houston on Friday.  The trailer was fully loaded with boxes and boxes of items pulled from shelves, nooks and crannies throughout the house.  We had managed to fit the kitchen table (sort of “farmhouse modern”, I suppose) into the trailblazer along with its four chairs.

On Friday evening, we had reassembled the table and loaded it and the chairs into the back of the pickup.

Now, well before the crack of dawn, we were lined up to enter the parking lot of the Sienna Plantation community center in Missouri City, Texas.  We got our booth assignment and rolled very slowly and carefully between booths already set up, parked cars and trucks, and people walking everywhere.  Son-in-law Scott and daughter Carol stopped in fron our designated spot, jumped out, and along with Nell, unloaded the table and chairs and a couple of other items.  Scott moved the truck away, and I pulled into his spot.

As I walked around to unlock and open the trailer, one of the girls joined me and said “we sold the table and chairs”.  It was around 5:30 am, the sale wasn’t supposed to start until 7am, and people were already buying and selling!  Fortunately, another vendor bought the table and chairs, so we were able to use it the entire morning to display our wares.  The hour or so before sunup was crazy.  As we carried boxes from the trailer to the booth area, we had to work our way around the shoppers, who were, I kid you not, shopping by flashlight!  And they were buying… and buying.  It was like being surrounded by a school of sharks… at night.  I’m going to hazard a guess and say we sold between 80 and 90%  of what we took to the sale.  And we probably sold 75% of that before 8am.

Around 10am...

For the first hour or two, what was supposed to be a clear day started off very cloudy, with a very light mist in the air.   We didn’t even have time to set up the canopy, and the mist was coming down just enough to start covering everything with a slightly wet coating.  Things were  wet, and people didn’t care.  They bought them anyway!  It was amazing.

It was hectic, but fun.  One man spent well over a hundred dollars just buying our stuff.  He would wander off to other booths, and usually return empty-handed, and finally told Nell “Nobody else has stuff as good as yours.”  Of course, we weren’t selling typical garage sale junk.  These were things that had decorated our house.  The fact that we were nearly giving them away helped tremendously, I’m sure.  A very enterprising young man, around 14 years old, wanted to buy a game.  He made an offer.  We countered.  He stuck to his offer.  We countered again, and he wouldn’t budge.  He knew exactly what he was going to pay.  I was so impressed by his business acumen (and didn’t want to take the game home), that I took his offer.

And there were, of course, a few “giveaways” to small children.  “But I don’t have any money.” said one little boy who had been covetously fondling a bag of cheap little toys.  Hearing him carry the bag into the next booth and say “Mom, they GAVE me this!”  was priceless, as was the look on the kid’s face who, close to the end, asked how much another game was (it was marked at $3.00).  “How much have you got?” I asked.  He held up a dollar.  “It’s your lucky day.” I said, and he walked away delighted.

The best story of the day was the little plastic bag with some of those little wooden massage roller things.  I think they had been acquired as a gag gift.  They sort of resembled some kind of midieval instruments of torture, but the bag was clearly marked “Massagers”.  It sat for the entire morning, with a little price tag that said “Free”.  No one took it.  The man next to us said we should have put a price on it, and it would have sold.

If only we could have art festivals like this!  (At our normal prices, of course.)  People arriving early, full of eager anticipation to see what we’ve brought this time, money in hand, looking carefully at every item, that fire of desire in their eyes, wanting everything they see.  Ah, the stuff of dreams.

When it was over, we had made several hundred dollars.  About five small boxes of leftovers were dropped off at Goodwill, and we drove home with an empty trailer.  Now, before the money goes to something else, we need to get to Home Depot and look at base cabinets for the RV’s art/computer workstation, and decide on some new flooring to upgrade it a little.

Another major milestone accomplished.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. April 3, 2011 1:26 pm

    Ralph, I am loving your journal entries on the process of change and letting-go. Inspiring. You’re fortunate you have a like-minded mate. I’m curious if you’re having any momentary hesitation. Must be very cathartic overall. Sorta jealous :o). We still have a few years to full retirement, not to mention a teenager at home, but your saga is definitely giving me lots of ideas. Looking forward to future installments. Best, Candace

    • April 3, 2011 8:02 pm

      Candace, I have such respect for the art training you’re getting that it’s hard to imagine that I could provide you with much inspiration. Thanks for that. Occasional second thoughts? Maybe. Briefly. But it’s more to do with the logistics of making art than anything else. After all, we all dream of that huge studio where we can do any kind of art we want, anytime we want to. But… I figure working in limited space will mean focusing on doing the actual art rather than paying attention to the trappings. (I hope that makes sense…)

  2. April 3, 2011 6:18 pm

    Hey Ralph! Mentioning ‘giveaways’, Doris gave me the quilt tops from Nell. I know which one GG made, but, who made the other quilt top? Was it Nell’s mother? I want to document all the info I can about the quilt tops. I’m going to show them at one of my quilt guilds Monday night. I might(probably) will put them on my blog, too, when I get all the info. Thanks.

    • April 3, 2011 8:03 pm

      Hi Cheryl! By now, you’ve talked to Nell, and gotten far better info than you would have gotten from me!

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