One of the things I love most about America is garage sales, or yard sales or even 'yarda' in deference to most of our customers this morning. I love the fact that you can make a huge pile of all your rubbish on your front lawn, post a sign on the nearest cross-street and watch your hard-earned stuff walk away for 25¢ a piece. I know the UK has jumble sales at the scout hut and drizzly car-boot sales on that field off the ring-road, but there's something heartwarmingly freeing about being able to host your own, on a whim, because you need to raise a few bucks for your upcoming trip to England.
OK, not actually our lawn, because being professional slum-lords we know that if we even let our tenants have a sniff at having a yard sale there'd be one every weekend and suddenly all our garden furniture, nicer shrubs and guttering will have walked. We are nothing but cheap, and not a little savvy so we 'borrow' our friends yard in a much nicer neighbourhood for the occasion and make them feed and babysit our child while we make money. Good times.
I love selling too. Napoleon called England 'a nation of shopkeepers' and Good Lord it must be in my blood because I'll admit I get a little frenzied when the hoards arrive to nose through my hand-me-downs and it's a good job it's not held at my house otherwise I'd be plundering every room for things to sell.
It's an education in the true value of 'stuff' though. You have to mentally let your crap go well before you hand it over to that shuffling bloke who's spent an implausibly long time looking at your cast-off sports bra. There is nothing as disheartening as watching someone walk off with that mirror you spent $150 on two years ago, that has now a market value of $8 (and only $8 because you originally said $20 then they frowned, and you thought, crikey, I need the money, and then they didn't have a $10 they only had $8 and would you consider that?). Sheesh.
However, if you think about it in terms of people paying you to take away your rubbish then it's fine sport indeed. I would do it every month but even in America it's hard to accumulate crap that fast.
My question is though - have garage sales gone downhill? We don't go to as many as we once did, it used to be our regular Saturday morning pursuit, grab a coffee and a bagel and drive round the nice neighbourhoods hoping to pick up a $10 coffee table. Now LK works on Saturdays and the thought of buckling and unbuckling Anna into her car-seat so I can look for that one back issue of Hello magazine in a big pile of 'Watchtowers' leaves me cold.
Now that everyone uses Craigslist, no-one would even consider selling a nice couch, or an armoire that used to house a TV but no-thanks-we-now have-a-flat-screen at a garage sale for $30 and a chance it might not sell when you can just post a photo online and wait for the customers to come to you. Don't you think? If we were ever to get a flatscreen (ha, oh ha ha ha) and needed to ditch our armoire I would never dream of hauling it out on to the street on a Saturday morning when I could get my full asking price from someone who will haul it out of my house themselves. Has anyone else noticed this or is it just Santa Barbara? Is anyone still getting amazing yard sale bargains?