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Jewish World Review May 25, 2001 / 3 Sivan, 5761

Greg Crosby

Greg Crosby
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Consumer Reports

But who buys garages? -- ALL my life I avoided them like the plague -- wanted no part it. I never attended one, let alone held one myself. But my wife was, er, persuasive, and with the help of family and friends we did it -- we had our first garage sale this past week.

It wasnít as bad as I had feared. We sold quite a bit of stuff that we no longer wanted or needed (otherwise known as "junk") and made some extra money which will help towards our moving expenses. The sale didnít generate the neighborhood riot I thought that it might, thank goodness. Nor did it cause nosy neighbors to wander over and check out our things "just to see what those Crosbys have been living with all these years." As garage sales go, this one went pretty good I guess. But Iím glad it went. And I do not want to do it again anytime soon. And I certainly do not want to attend someone elseís.

At the risk of being labeled a snob or worse, shopping at garage sales are just not for me. It goes against my grain in the same way that I donít particularly enjoy going to swap meets, flea markets and 99 cent stores. Iíd rather pay twice the price then rummage around looking for the right bargain all morning. Iím not a bargain hunter. Iím not a haggler. I like knowing the set price of a thing. Tell me the price of something and if I want it bad enough and can afford it, Iíll buy it. If I donít want it at that price or canít afford it, I wonít buy it. Thatís all.

I also like NEW things. Nice, new, well-made things. Things in their original boxes. Things with warrantee cards, even though I donít mail them in. I really like the smell and feel of a new product whether itís a television, or clothes, or a book, or a car. While I admit I do buy used books from time to time, generally it is because the titles Iím looking for are no longer in print and not available any other way.

Now, there are those who might say, "Well, big shot, you can afford to buy new things. Donít you realize that some people are so poor that they can only buy used items?" To those I say, "Flapdoodle, balderdash and pshaw!" not necessarily in that order. I acknowledge that there may be a few people so destitute as to shop only at garage sales and flea markets for their necessities of life, but the VAST MAJORITY of people I witnessed at my garage sale looked to me like they could easily afford a shopping trip to Saks or Neiman Marcus ... certainly Macyís or Mervinís. No, generally people go to these things as a hobby or pastime or because they simply enjoy bargain hunting (or they may be professional dealers). Which is fine ... for them.

Having now held my very own garage sale, I can speak with authority when I say that there is a certain amount of emotional trauma that accompanies putting oneís belongings up for sale. Why is it that no matter how expensive an item might be, no matter what you paid for something originally, the minute you put it on a folding table in the garage with a hundred other things around it, it suddenly looks like garbage? And then you have all those strangers handling your very personal and beloved treasures ... or what you thought were treasures at one time. Things that only you and your loved ones have heretofore touched are now being grabbed at, thumbed through, and scrutinized with disdain by people youíve never seen in your life and will never see again.

"How much for this?" someone barks out in your direction, holding up the china espresso set you once spent a fortune on. "Eleven dollars," you answer clenching your teeth and biting the bullet. You know itís worth four times that, but you havenít used it in years and well, this is a garage sale, after all. "Iíll give you two dollars," the bargain hunter replies.

There is a slight pause at this point when you quickly must decide whether to hold your ground, make a counter-offer, or throw the espresso set into the street smashing it to bits. Then you respond. "Sold."

JWR contributor Greg Crosby, former creative head for Walt Disney publications, has written thousands of comics, hundreds of children's books, dozens of essays, and a letter to his congressman. You may contact him by clicking here.

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© 2001 Greg Crosby