As spring unfurls and gardens spring to life, the blossoming in neighbors’ yards is unmistakable – particularly when it takes the form of furniture and old clothes. Something about the first gusts of spring in Minnesota draws out the inner workings of people’s houses and, inexplicably, sets them for sale. It’s uncanny – the first nice day and suddenly everywhere you look there are yard sales in full glory, replete with Little Tykes playsets, records, suitcases, and dining sets. And I am not exaggerating… I counted five on a quick drive to the supermarket on Friday afternoon.
In the corner of Southern California I grew up in, garage sales are limited to Saturday mornings and are highly specialized. A certain type of person notes in the papers when garage sales are taking place and heads out with a route in mind. Around 6:30 am. They haggle over the jewelry and clothes and relentlessly swoop from one to the next. And the sales are over by noon, absolute latest. Honestly, I recall coming across very few in my lifetime – until I moved here. My theory on this is that after months stuck indoors with their things, Minnesotans are so sick of seeing them that they’re absolutely desperate for something – anything – new. Which is why they immediately head to another yard sale to buy someone else’s castoffs.
You can find anything at all at a Minnesota yard sale. At the Festival of Garage Sales this weekend – which I confess to attending – I saw bras hanging on trees, taxidermied animal heads, half-used boxes of assorted sundries. There were full bedroom, living and dining sets, dating from the 20s to the present. Velvet posters (including Elvis). Cars for sale. Plants. Broken bikes. Golf clubs. Dog clothes.
I write this post from an Ethan Allen rocking chair that I bought for 5 dollars, which has suprisingly turned out to be the perfect office chair we’ve been searching for (Jeffery can lean back and put his feet up on the desk with perfect ease). It needs a teensy bit of work, but for $5…? My other find was a brand-new Tupperware sheet for rolling out cookies and pie crusts. I had gotten one at the Tupperware party Jeff and I threw the first year we were married (boy, does that make us sound nerdy. Doesn’t it?) that somehow got placed on a recently-used stove burner… In any case, this new one was supposed to be part of a basket of Tupperware items that someone else had already purchased, but they left it behind… and I scooped it up for $4. Hooray for the upcoming strawberry rhubarb pies!
Which is to say, I think I’m embracing the yard sale mentality. I’ve always gotten the heebie-jeebies from used things – you’ll never catch me at a Goodwill store or buying clothes from Buffalo Exchange – there’s something of the oft-uttered parent phrase “you don’t know where that’s been” that niggles for me. But I’m liking that these cotton, wood and plastic flowers shoot up in neighbors’ yards alongside the daffodils, and I can happen upon them. And maybe – just maybe – I’ll find a bouquet to take home.