We had four tables full of neatly stacked clothes, as if we were in a department store, only more cobwebs.
It was the night before our garage sale. We were knee-deep in baby paraphernalia, the functionality of which I could only guess. My wife, Hailey, and I were folding dozens of little shirts and jeans onto some tables we had borrowed from friends for the occasion. These were the same clothes we had been painstakingly sorting and storing for years, and I was giddy at the thought of getting rid of them forever.
Our sons, Jackson (12) and Grant (10), were helping us, and the big question on everyone’s mind was this: What are we going to do with all this money we’re about to make?
“Do we need a bigger cash box at the checkout table?” I asked.
Hailey suggested we could use the money to buy paint for the walls in the kids' rooms.
Grant cleared his throat and said, as politely as he could manage, "I don't think we should paint the rooms. Because I'd rather have my cut."
"Umm, no," I said.
“And we should put out a tip jar and say, ‘This is for the kids (cough cough).’”
I gave him another size 2T girls shirt and said, “Just keeping folding, OK?”
After we finished, we had four tables full of neatly stacked clothes, as if we were in a department store, only more cobwebs.
“This better work,” I thought. And I turned out the light.
The next morning, we got up early and set up everything in the driveway. It was game time.
I got out a speaker and put on some music, deciding that the Beatles would be a good choice to persuade people to buy stuff at a garage sale. My 2-year-old daughter, Kennedy, apparently thought it was groovy, too, because she started singing along to the drawn-out “Shhhh” sounds in “Come Together.” That, and she went back inside to put on another pink beaded necklace.
As the time went on though, Kennedy grew weary and sat in a lawn chair with her hands covering her face, as if to say, “What of my prized possessions will they try to sell next?”
I realized what a delicate balance you have to strike as the host of a garage sale. Do you sit there and stare down the customers as they’re browsing, hoping they’ll be too embarrassed to come and go without even buying one lousy toy from the 25-cent bin? Or do you feign indifference and hide behind a newspaper, hoping they’ll fall for some of your higher priced items?
Neither approach seemed to work very well, as the first several people came and went without spending much. Then there were the people who inched by in their cars, surveying our possessions and finding them wanting, not even bothering to stop and pretend to shop.
“OK, Jackson,” I said, holding the cash box in my hand like an urn. “Get some bags and start bagging everything up. It’s over.”
Hailey scolded me: "It's only 9:32!"
And then our friends called and said they saw the picture on Facebook of our wagon and wanted to buy it. Our profit just quintupled!
The inventory started to thin out to a degree as the squeaky rocking chair sold and then the bag of Lincoln Logs — but no one was buying the clothes.
When it was all over, Jackson tallied everything up, and it came to $92 and change. He showed the total to me on the calculator, and then, helpfully, he divided it by 4 to demonstrate how much we would all get if, you know, we decided to split it (apparently he either forgot that he had two younger sisters or didn’t consider their contributions worthy of a slice).
The grand total climbed some more in the next day or two, almost to the point that it was worth the trouble.
Now, the only question remaining is where did we put that cash box? It’s got to be around here somewhere …
SIDEBAR: How to find garage sales
If you're looking for garage sales, the city of Palm Coast's website has a very cool feature. Go online to palmcoastgov.com/garage-sales, and you'll see three tabs. First, you can see the garage sales in a list format, but then you can also see them on a map. The third is to help you register and to view the rules and regulations.
SIDEBAR: Readers react on Facebook to IHOP, Freedom Fest
Among the stories posted on the Palm Coast Observer's Facebook page this week was an announcement that IHOP had submitted a plan to the city to build a restaurant in Island Walk. The story was shared 228 times in the first 10 hours.
Julie Renner wrote, "I hate Palm Coast Parkway. That area is way too crowded as it is. Now they are adding this." Tina Curry added: "What about the south side of Palm Coast? I will not drive to Palm Coast Parkway for everything. What happened to all this commercial building that was supposed to happen in the Town Center?"
In response, Aimee Mahoney wrote, "Man, you guys are full of negative comments. An article about IHOP coming to town and everyone gets worked up. I wish my life was so boring that an IHOP article stressed me out. If you don't like that part of town, don't drive over there. It's easy. Don't turn your car in that direction."
A story about the Freedom Fest drew 166 likes or loves on Facebook. One of the comments was from Glenna Wallis Peterson: "My husband and I attended the Freedom Fest and were emotionally overcome with sadness viewing the Wall of names that sacrificed all they had for our freedom."
Mindy Matson Fitts added: "Our family had a great time overall! The Wall is a very emotional experience. It is a great opportunity to teach our children about history. Such an impact. Thank you!"