I had a garage sale on Saturday. It was pretty much a bust. I opened at 6:30 am. Which means I woke up at 4:30 to get outside for set up by 5:00. I went until 2:30pm. I profited $32. They say location is everything, and I am sure this is the case here. It sort of sums up the last year of my life anyway.
We live on a very busy street. It’s a rural street with free flowing traffic buzzing by at a steady rhythm of 65 miles per hour. There is no time on this street. No rush hour, busy times, or two a.m. respite.
It’s called FM 1960, and the FM stands for Farm to Market. Back in the day, this was the horse trail that the farmers would use to cart their goods “into town” a la Laura Ingalls. The road was eventually standardized, paved, and over the last say, five or six decades, has been viciously attacked by real estate developers. This is no small part due to Houston becoming a major player in the oil industry, and the ripple effect of oil money coating the entire metropolis.
Now 1960 is a major thoroughfare in the Houston area, and spans most of the Northside of the city offering shopping, dining, and myriads of office and business space. It also offers traffic of the “slit your wrist” variety, and drivers who echo the sentiment that “life is short, brutish, and cheap,” as they maneuver the some-odd thirty mile stretch of modern urban sprawl. In short, 1960 is everything city life is supposed to be.
But this side, my side, is what I call the “dark side” of 1960. Not that it’s necessarily seedier than the rest. But this is the side that no one ever thinks about. The side where you can envision how the farmers must have plodded through here with their carts of tomatoes or whatever. About a quarter mile down, there is a saloon. Yes, a saloon. It’s got an archway entrance and everything.
Our next door neighbors opened a scrapyard on their property. It pays people cash for their old metal and aluminum. Over the last year, we have learned that “scrapping,” as they say, is an important source of income for the rising methamphetamine community in the area. We found this out after we started asking around about what might have happened to our six foot aluminum ladder, a metal curtain rod we had stored on the back porch, and the battery to our riding lawnmower (?)—(still working on how that worked). After that, we took the advice of, I believe TS Eliot, who said, “Good fences make good neighbors.”
So, when I had my garage sale, the city girl in me swore, “With all of this traffic, people should stop.” Not so. I got about five customers.
The rest of the day, I waited. And waited. And waited. I went through the books for sale. I found a Karen Kingsbury novella and decided to read it for market analysis. (Not impressed). I got bored and rearranged the tables. I made more displays. I set up a display on the curb with lawn chaises with a FOR SALE sign. I waited. I finished my Karen Kingsbury book.
I put large stuffed giraffes on the lawn chaises as if they were sunbathing. No change. I taped a huge YARD SALE sign between the two chairs to look like the giraffes were holding it up. Still no more customers. I parked my car on the shoulder to make it look like we had customers. Nothing. I made huge YARD SALE signs and taped them to the windows of my car. I took a huge Persian rug and draped it over the hood of my car. Nothing. We got my sister’s car and parked it on the shoulder to make it look like a customer, now that my car had turned into an ad. I put balloons on the mailbox. Still nothing. We checked on the garage sale signs we had put up down the road. Still holding strong. I waved to traffic. They waved back. The balloons flew away. I took a table we had for sale, and put it down by the side of the road, with a price sign taped to it. Nothing. We had a couch and dishes for sale, so I debated setting up an entire place setting display, or living room display on the side of the road. But, the couch was really heavy, and I figured with all the junk we already had out there, more wasn’t really going to help much.
So finally, I changed into my curviest jeans, dabbed on a little eyeliner and lipgloss, then grabbed one of my yard sale signs and stood on the side of the road. I got several honks, and one more customer—an older gentleman in a big pickup truck who smiled nervously, stammered over his words at me, and then said he was looking for tools. One look at my girly wares of high heels and Ikea décor, and he bid me adieu. After that, I figured maybe my “garage sale hooker,” routine wasn’t the best marketing strategy for my target market either.
So, I made some more lemonade. I went back to the books for sale box. I found a Nicholas Sparks novel and read the whole thing start to finish. And actually noticed some really great technique stuff that he was doing that might solve a major problem with my own novel. So, maybe it wasn’t all for naught. But that’s the story of the garage sale that day.