Garage sales can unite the generations

Do OverHere it is Saturday morning and I haven’t hit a sale the entire summer. I rode by a sale on Selby near the capital on Friday and called my daughter to say, “They have some good stuff sitting out — you may want to drive by. They have a sofa that may work in your library. I like the color and pattern. It looks fairly new and unused.”

Going garagin’ was a part of my childhood that brings a smile and deep belly laughs to me. Like the time there were seven of us in the car and my mom found a bed that also had to fit in. Or the time me and my sisters with my mom as adults went garagin’ and we could only look through bags to have a conversation because the car was so full. Talk about driving dangerously.

Really, my mom was the garage sale queen. On Thursdays she would go through the section of the paper advertising garage sales and plot out where she would go on Friday and Saturday.

Timing and routing were critical to one’s success. Go to the affluent neighborhoods first and then hit the rest. She was adept and skilled at knowing what church had the best pricing and items.

She knew when to get up and be out of the house to get there before the lines began — being first in line was as important as knowing what section to go to. Each of us would have a section to hit first and get the goods.

Because there were so many of us and because my mom cooked for the entire clan, pots and pans were high on the list. Not just any pot or pan, but looking from a distance at the condition, brand and size was really important.

Next were sets of dinnerware: plates, bowls, cups, saucers, serving dishes, water glasses, pitchers and silverware… There was never enough. My mom not only fed the family and friends but also the hoboes who knocked on the door.

I don’t remember more than two or three weekends out of the year that we didn’t have company coming. Sheets, pillows, blankets, towels and bedspreads were always sought after. Again, the quality and condition were really important. If there were spots, stains or damages, depending on the size and severity mom made a decision.

Of course, having seating and tables was a must. Chairs for the kitchen, bedrooms, basement, front porch, and outside in the driveway were always needed. With our family coming in at 13 people, there were always an additional five to 25 or more on any given day.

Mom didn’t stop at chairs. There were also nice sofas needed for the porch and basement. At times she would find something that would work well in a bedroom.

Right before checking out, we would rally and Mom would look at each item and decide whether to keep it or put it back. I marveled at how adept she was and with such speed. Sometimes there was only a momentary glance. Amazingly, she was spot on all the time.

One of the key skills in garaging is knowing how and when to negotiate on the price. Mom was a true artist when talking people down. There was a seriousness about how she spoke: her facial expression, the fixation towards the seller, the look in her eye, and how she held her purse. She would have each of us bring our items up, so many forlorn-looking children who had the heart to stand firm on a few dollars or at times pennies.

The finality of a good day at garage sales was topped off with a trip to McDonald’s. Once we got home, each item was carefully looked at, washed, restored and put away for use.

I see some of those items when I visit home, and I appreciate them. Garagin’ is a good thing and is one of many lessons to pass down from generation to generation. I am grateful to share with my grandchildren something that is fun, economical and memory-making. Remember, “Every day is a do-over.” What do you recognize as a do-over?

Bob-e Simpson Epps has spent 40+ years leaning into life’s issues personally and professionally. She shares a revival of spirit, great hope and passion with others who have faced many of the same issues. She welcomes reader responses to, or visit her blog at