I'd had a bath and something to eat, I felt the compulsion to
write about my weekend experience participating in the all-American
pasttime...the family yard sale. This one had particular meaning
because I took the show on the road to my hometown, Iuka, Mississippi.
My Mom downsized a few years ago, but her garage was full. The
trip just wouldnt be complete without my trusty yard sale
co-hostess Beth. She volunteered to assist me with this endeavor.
She had not missed helping me with past yard sales, and another
trip to Iuka was way overdue. After careful reflection, she remembered
it was almost eight years ago when Steve and I married.
arrived the evening before and posted our neon hot pink and black
signs at the only intersection in Iuka. I surveyed the weekend
competition, knowing that Heritage Day would be going on all weekend.
I thought this could be a plus for getting people into town. It
only takes five minutes to get across town, so who did I think
I was kidding? I noticed one other "Yard Sale" sign
and someone advertising a "Quilt Show." I wasn't worried
about the plethora of County Fair posters. It was a few weeks
away. We posted signs on the two turn streets leading to Mom's
house. I had some trepidation about posting one in Mrs. Biggs
yard on the corner, since she had just won the Lucy Rowe Club
Yard-of-the-Month award. Her yard was pristine, and I felt a little
bit criminal about posting a "Yard Sale" sign in the
corner without asking. After noticing that her house was really
dark, I thought, what the heck. A brilliant idea occurred to me
that I should post one on the telephone pole as you turn into
Wal-Mart. I had visions of people spotting the neon hot pink and
gunning the gas pedal rather than turning right into Wal-Mart.
I reasoned it was only another block and they could do their Saturday
shopping afterward. Our signs were all hung and the Vidette
ad had been placed. Our advertising bases were covered.
ordered some take-out pizzas and headed to Mom's garage for some
pre-sale setup. We started putting items on tables and clothing
racks we had brought. We knew that our advertising was paying
off because two middle-aged women pulled into the street and rolled
down their windows yelling, "Is this where the yard sale
is going to be tomorrow? Followed by, "Can we look
at some things now?" We agreed to have them come back in
a few hours. Of course, my Mom had already done some pre-sale
bargaining, so those people were dropping by early, too. The whole
process gave new meaning to the words "pre-sale." It
was the night before, and we had already done $87.50 in sales.
Beth and I decided to get up early and do the rest in the morning.
began our setup at 5:30 a.m., thinking people would start arriving
by 6:30 or 7:00 a.m. Everything was out and our setup was good,
but we still didn't have any shoppers. We were quietly a little
concerned, since all our yard sale experience told us that lots
of sales occur in the first few hours. The first vehicle turned
down the street after 7:30 a.m. and the bargaining was on. Everyone
was impressed and amazed at Beth's assortment of books-on-tape
and movies. I guess a little less over the movies, because this
tiny town of 2500 people could support four video stores. Go figure!
You always get "warm fuzzies" from vans and trucks that
pull down the street. I meant to warn Beth about the high number
of Camaros that would be spotted. She commented on it later, and
I explained to her it was the state car of Mississippi. We finally
set up my sister's queen size box springs and mattress in the
front yard and more cars pulled into the street. I saw many classmates
parents, reminisced about high school days, and made connections
about so-and-so's brother-in-law who was married to what's-his-name's
ex-wife. You just can't let yourself think too hard sometimes.
large Cadillac pulled in and we knew instantly we had a different
shopper on our hands. She immediately asked about the mattress
set, and we agreed on $10 less than the asking price. This was
a real coup because we felt like we had to sell it before the
sale ended. It was not going back into the garage. After paying
for it first, the buyer was ready to scour for additional purchases.
She told us she was redecorating an old bedroom, to which we promptly
sold her the bedside table, sheets, and a huge assortment of miscellaneous
decorative items, as well as clothes. I recognized the woman as
the mother of a girl I went to high school with. I told her who
I was and she remembered me - or at least she pretended to remember.
She still looked the same - well groomed, tanned, and accessorized.
Ok - a few too many trips to the tanning bed, or Florida three
times this past summer as she told me, but otherwise the same.
We kept pointing out more items, and she added them to her pile,
stopping briefly for occasional tallies of her yard sale finds.
I knew from our discussion that we had a Trading Spaces episode
going for her guest bedroom. Beth was more than happy to assist
with her personal and bedroom makeover. Cadillac Woman finally
stopped shopping, and we began helping her load purchases.
morning was really busy. It was especially hectic during the times
my youngest son, Joseph, pulled out the sports equipment and toys.
He loved taking target practice at the TV trays with tennis balls.
I think he thought there was a prize for the person knocking over
the most items with one ball. It was a nightmare when he was armed
with a can of tennis balls. He threatened to wipe out the entire
sale more than once. Cadillac Woman's daughter-in-law stopped
to pick up the mattress and added to her wardrobe and that of
several of her friends. We were thankful that someone was young
enough to use some of the slinkier dresses and baby clothes. We
hoped the Cadillac family had a few more members so we could close
up shop and go home early!
local yard sale specialists began arriving for the clean up. We
haggled with one woman who announced to us that she was the new
General Manager for Pizza Hut. I realized she was the person I
had dealt with the previous night when I went pick up our pizza,
only to be told, "They should have never told you 30 minutes."
I didn't do my total "Linda Blair" routine from the
Exorcist, but I did feel my neck twitch a little. She thought
Joseph was really cute and told me I should bring him to Kids
Night on Tuesday night. They were going to have a clown and Tuesday
would be "Camouflage Night." Joseph was quite a marksman
and I hated to miss it. I didn't have the heart to tell the woman
that I didn't live there any longer, as she sprinted to her car
to grab a stack of coupons and promotional material. I had to
glance at Beth to see if there was any trace of concern, because
she was raised in the Northeast. I explained to her later that
this was a community where you could claim the opening of hunting
season as one of your paid floating holidays.
developed the brilliant idea to have a local flea market guru
bid on the remaining items. This meant more cash in our pockets
and less items to cart away. We had a buyer and began packing.
We thought we were through, but people continued to pour in, so
we let them dig. The Cadillac Woman returned with her sister-in-law
from Louisiana and the dealing was on. We re-hung some of the
clothes, as the sister-in-law proceeded to tell us about the transformation
in Cadillac Woman's guest bedroom. This was better than Trading
Spaces! Cadillac Woman had totally redecorated her guest bedroom
in less than three hours and her guest was bragging about how
beautiful it had turned out! I had some fleeting thoughts about
a new show on HGTV called Yard Sale Spaces where you redecorate-in-under-eight-hours-using-only-yard-sale-finds.
We made Cadillac Woman a really great deal on some remaining items,
since she was easily half the GDP of our yard sale.
We were now almost three hours past our close time and really
low on items. A neighbor of Mom's we had just met brought us cookies
for our trip back home. It was a reminder that random-acts-of-kindness
are in short supply, so why rush? We pulled a couple of items
for another sale and took the rest to the local Salvation Army
store, feeling tired but refreshed from the humor and warmth of
the small town yard sale.
Smith began writing in 2003 for her own enjoyment. Ruth worked
for seventeen years in the Information Technology field as a Programmer,
Product Development Analyst and Director of Technical Services
for a software company before deciding to stay home fulltime with
her children. She grew up in North Mississippi, observing the
many colorful characters of her home town. She often told people
stories of her childhood, which most thought were fiction. Ruth
is a graduate of Mississippi State University with a B.A. in Business
Information Systems. She lives in Franklin, Tennessee, with her
husband and two young sons.