Classified ads, Facebook postings and neighborhood signs all announce, “The yard sale season has returned!”
The quest to cloth children, find summer reading or replace an appliance yanks the penny-pincher, the budget-minded and thrifty shopper out of bed early on Saturday.
The quest may be universal, but the shopping styles are not.
The organized yard sale shopper begins the day before. She stops by the bank to get cash in small bills. No $100 or $20 bills for her to challenge the seller. She gasses up her car. At home she tosses in totes to hold small items, newspapers for breakables, and healthy snacks and bottled water to fortify her. Her purse holds a measuring tape, batteries and hand wipes. She takes a large canvas tote to hold purchases.
The night before, the organized shopper plugs her phone into a charger (and makes sure she has a charger in the car, as well as a GPS system). She knows the early bird gets the worm, so she programs her coffee maker to begin brewing before the crack of dawn with enough coffee to last the day.
The organized shopper studies the newspaper and Facebook postings to map out sales. If the day starts cold, she tosses cooler clothes to don after the temperature soars.
She wakes in the wee hours of the day, dresses and eats a breakfast to sustain her through the morning. Strapping on her hands-free fanny pack, she leaves as the sun peeks over the horizon.
Then there is the impetuous shopper. She wakes up Saturday, decides to go yard sale shopping, grabs her purse, realizes she does not have any money and raids the family’s piggy banks and hopes the sales take her by an ATM before she needs more cash. The impetuous shopper rips open a PopTart, snags leftover pizza, a diet drink and as she dashes out the door to a bright sunny day. She will find her mid-morning snack at a cardboard table where a smiling child offers lemon-aide and cookies. She can’t shop long, her kids have ball games to play.
And then there is the “experienced, been there, done that, now I am retired shopper,” who has tried the organized and been the impetuous. She admits, “I no longer boldly go where no woman has dared go before … the sun is up.”
Mid-morning, she inserts her dentures, finds a pair of extra strength reading glasses, turns up her hearing aids, straps on a back brace and tucks a portable medicine kit into her handbag. She moseys around the house, checking the couch and chair for loose change and stops by the grocery store to cash in the coins from her husband’s change jar.
Halfway down the street, she realizes she forgot her phone, the city map and the classified ads from the newspaper. Back in the house to get them, her growling stomach says she has not had breakfast, let alone coffee, and that she needs a bathroom break already.
Half an hour later she leaves the house with fresh coffee and an egg sandwich, only to turn back: she forgot her phone.
Size determines her purchases. If she can’t lift it, she won’t take it. But she will test drive all the furniture at the yard sales. Besides it is always best to take the mid-morning medicines while sitting and chatting with new friends. At the end of her shopping day, she returns home, looks at her bundle of goods, sighs and decides she can unload the car tomorrow. Right now, she just needs a nap.
Joan Hershberger is a retired journalist who has written her award-winning, slice-of-life columns for more than a decade. She lives in Parkers Chapel.