A modern-day Marco Polo travels the world. On foot! That's me, veteran of a 50-state road trip and 2,000+-mile hike on the Appalachian Trail. O.K., I do take breaks, both to lead tours in NY, DC, Boston, and Philly, and work as a mover's concierge, helping people to organize garage sales, pack, and move. The key is to keep moving. cesarwalks@yahoo.com/ 1-305-444-1932; 14021 sw 109 street, miami, fl 33186; usa; north american continent

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Mega Garage Sale on Wescott Lane

Its over.. The last person strolled in at 5:45pm to buy some Christmas lights and used shoes. "I was soooo glad you were still open." said a tired but excited bear of a lady "I was driving to work when i saw your sign and at work all day, i just kept watching the clock and hoping that when i went home, you'd still be open...i just love Garage sales, i live for them."

Well she's not alone. Hundreds more people do to and despite the chilly weather (there was frost on everything in the morning - since i had pulled everything out the night before for the pre-sale) at 6:45am five cars came streaming down Wescott lane, parked and raced to be the first shoppers at what i billed on Craigslist and in an ad in the Atlanta Journal Constitution as "The Last Mega Estate Sale of the Year".

Well i probably elaborated a wee bit too much but lets face it, next week is turkey day weekend and most folks will be buying new, high end, high priced crap to haul home and put under the tree. Items that ironically will one day end up where most high end high priced crap ends up; in somebody's garage sale. Besides its too cold for Garage sale-ing beginning next week anyway. This morning barely cut it. I was out there in my regular jacket and decided it was way too nippy so i looked around and quickly donned a faux mink coat ($25 - did not sell) and a santa hat (2 bucks, and yes someone bought it right off my head), plopped down under a down blanket ($3 - sold also) and lounged on a $350 designer italian leather seat (did not sell, but might get bought on ebay) and stayed toasty warm as folks attacked the garage sale.

Its always an interesting phenomenon. The act of putting one on. Its in my blood. I'm hard wired to handle them. I love stuff. Even though i own very little. (well i once owned lots of stuff, but i think it owned me - more on that subject in the future) So now i love handling other people's stuff. I love people. I love to get them a good deal on something. But I also know how to get them to walk away with more than they originally thought they'd buy. Well its partly their fault, as they are looking for a good deal. Its quite an art form.

First of all, i never price anything. That is a recipe for disaster. If you do. And you price it too high. Someone during the sale that really wants that item, might stare down on it, say silently - in their mind - "hmmm nice but too pricey" and walk on by. Meanwhile, i have no idea that he or she is interested. If they have to ask me "how much for this" DING! i know i have an interested buyer. Before i quote the price, i immediately begin yapping about that object, history, popularity, original price is was bought for, how many times it was used....and then only then, do i price it.....then i listen and look for a facial response.

If they frown or recoil, i know that they feel its too high. If they quickly say yes, i know i probably could have gotten more for it. If they counter offer, then i'll usually go down, but always say, "if you buy some more stuff, i'll give it to ya at that price" then i will add "keep lookin around, make urself a pile, the more you get the bigger discount i'll give ya"....then the magic happens....after the 2nd or third time, they stop asking about price and begin piling up stuff. Once they are that engaged and physically involved, then they are more likely to buy it all at a pretty decent price since now, they've been both hauling stuff to their pile and protecting their pile from the other garage sale vultures.

The sun peeked out around 8:30am and the rest of the day was beautiful. Cars streamed in to the gated community (we got permission from the home owners association to keep the gates open) and parked willy nilly all over the place (some dillapitated junked out cars - the true sign of serious garage sale junkies - yes they exist and quite a breed of folk they are - were parked in driveways of pissed off neighbors, some of which came bitching out of their homes, looked at the spectacle and wished they could kick everybody out). But alas, it was an approved event, i would find the owner, get them to move the car, and 5 minutes later the entire cycle would happen again.

Ironically, on the same day of the sale, the actual house had its closing, so even the house sold. So you could make a point that even the Garage got sold that day! Throughout the day, the long rows of stuff that were both inside and (flowing like a river of post or post popular consumer junk) outside the garage, slowly, slowly, thinned out. It practically dissapeared. By nightfall, as i was separating trash from the stuff i will haul off tomorrow to Goodwill, i thought once again of the deeper meaning of this most American ritual. It still amazes me how excited people get when they are in buying mode. Hunting for a deal mode. We are a nation of shoppers. some shop in malls. some in box stores. some even shop out of the most popular of ready to open retail shops; The American (2 car) Garage!

I'm off to Miami for turkey day. See my family. Warm my ass up in the sun.



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