Meghan and I went out on Saturday in ridiculously heavy fog. At first it was so bad that we couldn’t see half a block in front of us. The first sale we tried to go to wasn’t set up yet, but it took us a while to make sure that we weren’t just missing it because of the low visibility conditions.
Sales were pretty much a mixed bag, and most were along the lines of those we’ve described before: the sale with cool stuff but prices at least five times higher than expected, the sale that looked good from the car but had nothing, the sale that was okay but seemed like it would have been great earlier, the sale that we just drove by because it was nothing but baby stuff, and others that don’t really need more details. But there were two sales that we went to that were interesting — individually, and even more so as a study of yard sale contrasts.
The first of these was out on the back patio of a really charming house, complete with a small detached cottage which probably served as an office — it was a whole world of cute. As soon as we walked into the back, the woman said “Welcome! May I offer you a cup of hot coffee or tea?” I declined politely while marveling at her hospitality — I think it was the first time I’d ever been offered a complimentary hot beverage at a sale. And the graciousness didn’t stop there … as we were scoping out her stuff, we noticed a basket of freshly baked scones sitting on one of the tables!
Her stuff was all priced and laid out neatly. I kept thinking there was something I wanted to buy, but didn’t end up needing anything. Still, I enjoyed perusing the various travel souvenirs (mostly French), knick-knacks, and interesting books she had. Even though I didn’t want to buy her stuff, I wouldn’t have minded stepping into her life for a little while and visiting some of the places she’d been to.
Let’s compare this to the last sale of the day. Just a few blocks from home we saw signs for a sale – it had “today” taped over some previous date, which made us a little suspicious, but we decided to check it out anyway. We turned onto the street and saw a gigantic tent … on the lawn of the house that we remembered from their truly horrible looking non-sale a few weeks back!
I think that we would have just kept on driving if we weren’t compelled to investigate for blogging purposes. We walked up, and the lady apologized because she was still bringing things out. It was almost noon.
We stepped into the tent and she followed us in, babbling about how she could make us a really good deal on plastic coat hangers … the kind with metal clips on them. Perhaps in her universe these are a hot item. I wasn’t really paying much attention because I was so freaked out. The tent had cut-out squares of grubby beige carpet on the floor, with a very small assortment of unpriced and unremarkable items arranged here and there. There was nothing there that I thought anyone who happened upon her sale was likely to buy. The fact that she took the time to set up a tent and lay down carpet squares (?!) was bizarre, considering that she didn’t have all that much and that it wasn’t going to rain. The whole scene made me want to run away, fast. (But not before snapping a picture, of course! Sorry you can’t see the hangers …)
These two sales were pretty much on opposite ends of the scale as far as yard sale shopping ambiance goes. But I didn’t buy anything at either sale, so does it really matter? To some, the sales would be the same: each failed to produce any scores, end of story. But part of what I like about going to sales is getting a glimpse into all these other lives: their stuff, their personalities, their houses (or tents). If all sales gave you the same experience, it would probably get pretty boring after a while. I’m happy enough to take the lame, crusty, and freaky sales along with the civilized, organized, and entertaining ones.