This weekend I went to my first American Garage sale with my hardcore Garage Sale Hunter friend. She already had a list of the local sales in the area and we cruised around a nice looking neighbourhood looking for open garage doors and a pile of household goods on the driveway. When we spot one we park at the bottom of drive and jump out. My friend is half way up the drive before I’ve even shut the car door. A few other cars arrive as well, they all stop and the passengers quickly jump out and almost run up the drive way.
My friend and I were mooching about looking at the various items of this house’s past, things that they are willing to sell for a mere buck or two. The other people that have just arrived just start grabbing things, they aren’t even looking at what it actually is, picking up anything. They then pay and load up their truck, off to the next house and a repeat of the same grab and dash scene. It’s like a drive by, suburbia style. I won’t be surprised if in a few years time there will be drive-thru garage sales, it seems to be the American tradition of don’t get out the car and interact if you can help it.
My friend tells me that she goes to these every weekend, this time of year is the busiest, as everyone has a spring clean and de-clutters. She tells me that some sales have items that haven’t even been used, they still have tags on or are boxed. The consumer society is never more evident than at Sales like this. But if you’re a buyer and a frugal person you can easily furnish a house with good quality, often new pieces and find toys and clothes for kids that have barely been used. I do wonder if the recent downturn in the economy has increased the number of garage sales in recent times especially in more middle class areas.
Back home before we left for America we did a Car Boot (trunk) Sale to get rid of the things we couldn’t take with us. It was the first time I had done it as a seller and it was quite an experience.
The differences of a Car Boot to a Garage sale is quite self explanatory, one is done out of your own house and people come to you, the other is done out of the back of your car on trestle tables in the middle of a boggy field several miles from your home.
Just like at the garage sales, where people can’t wait to see what you’ve got and run up your driveway, at a car boot you have only just pulled the handbrake up and people are opening your boot already. It’s like the zombie apocalypse, but instead of crowds grabbing at your flesh they are dipping their hands into the back of your car and pulling things out, asking do you have any phones. No sod off and wait, you have to shoo them away like naughty children.
So you stay there in a field till a) you’ve sold most of your stuff b) the crowds are thinning c) if someone tries to haggle with you one more time about that drill set that is already next to nothing in price, you’ll stuff it where the sun don’t shine, so you leave as to not get arrested.
So I suppose they both have their good points, Garage sales you can just put some junk outside your house and sit there, not too much hassle. Or you have to load up the car with junk and tables. Car boots can be fun because they feel like a fair, you get to have a bacon sarnie and an ice cream from the burger van.
I would love to take my friend to the local car boot in my town back home, to see what she makes of it. Both experiences though definitely give you a real hit of either Americana or British eccentricity.