My philosophical dilemma with Garage Sales

For sale in Bruneau Idaho. If you want it.

Even though her baby is due in 5 minutes, Sam is going garage sale shopping today. It’s a pleasure for her. She loves it. 

She loves to dig through the boxes of ginzu knives, the used underwear, the bin of Barbie heads, the ziplock bags of clip-on earings, the once exciting walk-mans, the rows of dusty books, the piles of kids clothing and so forth and so on. 

 She walks into a garage sale and walks out with a designer belt or an exciting toy for one of the kids. I walk into a garage sale and get desperately fatigued. 

I find garage sales demoralizing. To me they are the disintegration of hope. Here’s the reason… 

A shiny new product, in its box, on the shelf, carefully arranged and lit by a paid employee, selling at its full retail price is a proud and hopeful object. It’s producers  are excited and hopeful. The retailers are excited and hopeful. It’s purchasers are excited and hopeful. It’s got respect! New, exciting, proud, hopeful. 

After it goes home and gets all used up its secrets are found out and its forgotten. The magic has vanished. It’s a garage sale item now. It’s box is gone. The shine is dull. It’s thrown on a fold up table with random items like fireplace pokers, cassette tapes of  Oral Roberts and packs of playing cards with 3 cards missing. Or worse it’s on an old bedsheet in the yard or driveway wilting in the sunlight. Sad. Sometimes when I go to a garage sale I don’t see the items. I see a row of prostitutes smoking cigarettes on a dingy downtown street. 

Garage sale items. 

“Honey, what should we do with this abdominizer?” 

“Put it in the garage sale box.” 

“Honey, what about this furby?” 

“Garage sale box.” 

“The Zig Ziglar book series on finding true joy?” 

“Garage sale” 

That’s just how I see it. 

My wife, however, sees possibility. She sees potential. She sees the rebirth of hope. She sees the prospect of an exciting future for these orphan items. 

And for that, I applaud her. 

 As for the photograph. In Bruneau Idaho there is a store called the “Fishin’ Hole” it’s got everything you need to catch suckers, sturgeon, crappie and catfish out of the mighty Snake river. It’s a local establishment. I took Jack and two of his cousins there with me on a recent adventure to the backcountry of the Owyhee canyonlands. 

They have a soda fountain with a homemade sign taped to it that reads “Soda out ’til spring”. The word spring is crossed out. It says “Later”. They’ve got pickled boiled eggs in a jar, slingshot loads, duck decoys, powerbait – you get the picture. This car is for sale right next to the “fishin’ hole”. 

It was a striking object in the brilliant sunlight. It’s dusty. Real dusty. I liked it.

The question is: Do you see a once beautiful car, now used up or do you see a potentially cool ride?


  1. Heh, garage sales are how I bought all my old cameras in my first collection. But I draw the line at old cars — not something you want to buy on impulse.

  2. I see a sweet-action Benz that is ready for another 100,000 miles of high-class motoring. After you spend $20,000 getting it back up to snuff of course.

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