Wednesday, July 16, 2008
"I'm looking for broken watches..."
"...and broken clocks."
That was the first inquiry from and older gentleman who was our first visitor on Saturday morning at 8:15 am -- 45 minutes before the sale officially began. At nine on the dot, a second older gentleman -- Rudy -- asked the same question. I told him that he was the second man to ask about broken watches, and he shook his fist and exclaimed, "Bob! He always beats me to these sales!" My brother-in-law commented that he never considered selling broken things. I thought this was very telling of the times. Back when Rudy and Bob were young, people knew how to fix things, so a broken item still had value.
In spite of the fact that we advertised no earlybirds, we discovered this phrase really means "get here early or all the good stuff will be gone" to yard sale officianados. In fact, Bob, my first broken watch inquirer, was actually our second earlybird. The first was a woman who arrived 18 hours early, knocking on my sister's door on Friday afternoon, desperate to find a pocket book, jewelry, a bookcase, and little buddhas. She explained to me that she was going to be working all day Saturday, so she was hoping she could shop a day early. After I explained that we had not yet begun to sort and price things, and that I had no idea what my sister was selling, she tried to persuade me to let her stop back at 7 am the following morning on her way in to work. Since I foresaw (accurately) a late evening of wine, takeout chinese, and yard sale prep, I told her that 7 am was going to be much too early. Still, she continued to stand on my sister's porch, as though I was hiding the crown jewels inside. I could not get her to leave, so I asked if I could take her name (Lucia) and number, and promised to call her if I found any of the items she mentioned.
At around 8:30 on Friday evening, we finally sat down with aching backs, wine glasses and takeout when the doorbell rang. Lucia, the pocket book and buddha hunting earlybird, had now elevated her status to kinda scary yard sale stalker. She just happened to be picking her daughter up from karate lessons, and wondered if we'd had a chance to check on her items of interest. When I told her we had nothing she was looking for, she lingered on the steps for a rather awkward moment. I don't know what reasoning she was using to think that I would hide things that we clearly wanted to get rid of, but she seemed unconvinced as she (finally) got into her car and drove away.
After the initial rush of earlybirds, we had a steady stream of bargain hunters, including the woman in designer clothes who re-negotiated every sale, "Will you take $2 instead of $3?" ---And a local landscaper (Jeffrey) who, after piling up all his purchases, made himself comfortable in an old wing chair that was for sale, and filled me in on his entire life from college at SUNY Morrisville in the 70s, to his latest landscaping job, his need to lose 30 pounds, and his dad's recent death. He bought $40 worth of "stuff" but I think he just wanted someone to talk to. ---And the couple whose 40-plus daughter was having her first child, so they were buying all of the "baby's first" items that my sister never had the time to use for my niece.
Finally, it all ended with Celine, my sister's neighbor and great samaritan, who brought the remains to Goodwill, and meeting a needy family in the parking lot, gave them everything.
Oh, except for the wedding platter. I received a hideous piece of Lefton china as a wedding gift, which has remained in my attic in it's original box since 1989, and which I've attempted to sell (for $3) in the past three yard sales. After Celine left with a carload for Goodwill, we put 5 items at the end of my sister's driveway, marked "free." Four of the five items were furniture and toys that would not fit into Celine's car, and the fifth was the wedding platter, which was mysteriously left behind. One by one as the day wore on, we noticed that the remaining items were claimed. While my sister and I prepared dishes for a neighborhood barbecue that evening, my mom came inside and announced excitedly "Kerri, someone took the wedding platter!" It's gone, with the wooden chair. My sister and I exchanged a look, and I said, half kidding "They probably tossed the platter onto the lawn and just took the chair." One hour later, my brother-in-law confirmed that the wedding platter was sitting beside their mailbox, in a spot my mom apparently couldn't see. Some things you can't even give away!