Friday, March 30, 2012

Why I Love Yard Sales

Before I start, let me say this: Whether I say "yard sales" or "garage sales," I'm referring to the same thing. Library sales are also included in that term; it would just be repetitive and annoying referring to them as "yard/garage sales and library sales" as many times as I'm going to mention them in my post. Still with me? Then, here we go. Over the years, I've noticed that people that have something in common (whether it be those of certain faiths, those within certain occupations and/or organizations, or just those who are big fans of something) tend to be misunderstood by those who don't share that same association. For example, most people think all male figure skaters are homosexuals, but my mom adores figure skating, and she knows very well that they're not. Even when I was younger, I thought that all Scouts (that is, Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, and Girl Scouts) did nothing but camp and hike. When I joined a Cub Scout pack, I was shocked to see that they met inside a church; prior to that, I had thought that they met in campground picnic shelters or humongous tents. Whatever they are, such misunderstandings tend to be judgmental, which also makes them sinful (Matthew 7:1-2) as well as not very becoming.
Such is true of us "yard salers"; those people who don't go to garage sales don't get why those of us who insanely enjoy them. I've heard plenty of criticism of garage sales over the years. One of my childhood friends didn't want to play with a Velcro dartboard just because it had come from a yard sale; he informed me that he had been to a garage sale that was nothing but baby items--and I've seen tons of such sales for as far back as I can remember--so he just assumed that yard sales sold nothing but baby gear. Years later, a high school friend claimed that he had bought some roller skates from a garage sale that broke the first time he used them, and that made him not like yard sales.  Others just don't get the appeal of them, or think that they have nothing but junk, which isn't the case.  I could apply Stein Mart's slogan--"Once you go, you get it"--to yard sales, but I feel there's more advantages to them than will fit in a short motto.
First off: It isn't just the purchasing; it's the hunting.  Millions of people, including me, use web sites such as eBay or Amazon Marketplace to find good deals online.  If you're looking for a specific item, such as a certain book or DVD, then such sites are the place to go.  However, garage sales aren't quite like that.  An article in AARP: The Magazine summed it up like this: "Stores are for things that you know you want or need.  Yard sales are for things that you didn't know you wanted."  Many times, the sheer surprise of the things I find at garage sales is half the fun.  I've found things that I didn't know existed (i.e., a DVD of obscure Amy Adams film Moonlight Serenade, or a Star Trek board game) or hadn't thought about in a long time (e.g., some FoxTrot compilations, a CD by a cappella group Naturally 7, or the entire five-cassette A.D. set).  Sometimes, the shock is that the items are so cheap; I recently purchased the entire Visual Bible DVD set, which consists of three different movies, still in the shrink wrap for only three bucks.  Even things I haven't purchased were still fun to see; at a yard sale last year, I saw a book and audio tape set featuring Putt-Putt--my favorite computer game character as a kid, for those who don't know--that I didn't know of previously.  I didn't buy it, since I am much too old for that sort of thing, but it was still good to see.  Even better is the interaction I get; when I wear shirts with words and/or pictures on them to garage sales, people often ask me about or comment on them.
Second off: At yard sales, you can get deals that you can't find anywhere else.  I'm known as a bargain hunter; as much as I love entertainment, I rarely pay full price for it.  I buy literature at used bookstores and purchase used DVDs at MovieStop, both with trade-in credit.  Although the deals at those places are good, they rarely even come close to garage sales, where you can usually find a book for no more than a buck and a DVD for under three dollars.  People often want to buy new instead of used, but, as someone who came from a household that wasn't always affluent, I know that getting items used is sometimes the only way you're going to get them.
Lastly: Buying items new is way too expensive these days.  I'm not going to divulge my weekly pay here, but I will say that my current job doesn't pay enough to cover living expenses, even monthly rent for an apartment.  At some point, I hope to advance to a better-paying job, hopefully in a library setting, and then move into some sort of apartment or townhouse; still, for now, I'm living with my parents.  Some of you may know that, as part of a deal with my folks, I recently purchased a new Mac, which, as most of you know, was a bit pricey.  It was thanks to all the money I had saved up in my bank account that I was able to buy that new Apple; had I purchased all the books, CDs, DVDs, etc., I've recently gotten new, I probably wouldn't have had even close to enough to do that.  Prices of almost everything have skyrocketed in recent years; paperback novels cost at least six dollars, new DVDs are no less than fifteen or twenty bucks, and just one album usually will set you back no less than ten smackaroos...yet, you can find those same items in great condition at yard sales for much less.
In conclusion, I will say this: If I were to make a list (which I won't) of all the media I've obtained over the past half-decade or so, I think right many of you would be surprised at how much I did get, especially on such a limited budget.  Only a small percentage of those books, CDs, DVDs, and other media have been Christmas and birthday gifts; almost 97% of it was bought with trade-in credit and/or my own cold, hard cash.  It may sound odd, but I consider hunting for bargains (at garage sales or anywhere else, including online) to be fun.  As the song says, "You'll never know if you don't go."
Any comments?

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