Oh, I can remember the days way back when:
When I was a new bride.
When I earned a paycheck.
When I shopped till I dropped.
When I had INSANE yard sales.
And then I remember when I ended up in Celebrate Recovery to “support my husband” only to find myself uttering the words ” My name is Jenny and I struggle with compulsive shopping.“ Phew- That was rough.
What a journey it has been! I am so fortunate that I can be on the other side of recovery and laugh about my thrift store renegades and Target trips. So grateful to God for revealing this thorn in my paw so that I could start to learn new ways of dealing with stress. Trying to recognize the avoidance behaviors before they spiral into a full-blown “episode” is definitely a discipline, but the victory is a sweet reward. And so is not feeling guilt, shame, and all that other stuff. Always in process, of course.
But in all honesty- I MISS THE SHOPPING!! We’ve definitely scaled back on luxuries since we had children and our income was cut in half. I loved being able to buy something when I wanted. Those days are few now, and I appreciate them even more.
Last weekend I found myself gaining a little perspective on the whole thing because we had a yard sale. It was my first one in roughly four years. We decided earlier in the week to “Just do it” since Sam had the time off, and it was more or less a spur of the moment kind of thing. (Who am I kidding? The car insurance was due, and we were short!)
Now let me give you a little history on me and yard sales: Yardsaling is in my blood.
My Grandma was a hardcore yardsaler. She didn’t miss shopping a single sale. In fact, she memorized parts of town based on whether she had been to a yard sale at “that house” or “the other” and she had her own sale every year for as long as I can remember.
She had folks who frequented her yard sales. That’s right, my Grandma had a following. Like the Grateful Dead, only her followers weren’t trying to sell weed in the driveway. Florence Burlile was known to buy something at the thrift store, shine it up, and resell it at her own yard sale for profit. It drove my Grandpa nuts, but it was her hobby.
I say it was the Great Depression in her. She was born in 1922, right in the thick of it, and I know that it affected her every day of her life. Picking up cans, saving tin foil, reusing sandwich bags, not a scrap of food that didn’t get reheated in a Tupperware for the next days’ lunch. We called her cheap, but now she would be “trendy’ and “Green.” Ha, she would have loved that.
Florence Burlile, classy as ever. I have her to thank for my thrifty ways.
My Grandma taught me the ins and outs of yardsaling- Setting up, pricing, advertising, you name it. And she had a few tricks up her sleeve too.
She would play some of her old records in the background to keep customers around and lull them into a state of vulnerability. I can still hear Doris Day and Bing Crosby when I think about it. You could watch the people walk into the backyard, and when the sound of a gently strumming ukulele hit their ears, it was over. Before long, they were swaying to “Songs of the Tradewinds” with an armload of crap they didn’t need.
Grandma was a clever lady. I remember being very young hearing this gem and trying to figure out just who she was talking about. A customer would try to haggle over a price and she would say “Oh that belongs to Millie, she is not here right now, I can’t take any less than she is asking.”
And the secret: Millie didn’t exist. Grandma…how could you? So sly, so sneaky, and so…
She would often put on her yard sales with my two Great Aunts, and they would all claim the broken or high dollar items belonged to “Millie” so that they didn’t have to explain themselves. It ended the price war right there.
Dagger through the heart! It kills me! I just think of these little old ladies smiling amongst themselves in their old metal lawnchairs in the backyard because they were getting away with it. I haven’t had the guts to pull this one yet, but it’s in my bag of tricks if I should ever need it.
So naturally, after we bought our house, we began to accumulate junk faster than we could use the stuff we already had, thanks to me and my shopping habits- ehem.
And I couldn’t just throw the stuff out, it was cool. And valuable. And well-intentioned (throw in a little guilt too because I spent good money on so much of the stuff I didn’t need).
And so it was time to have a yard sale.
I had a yard sale every year for four years straight!
That translates to: I was accumulating enough stuff that I needed to clear it out before I could bring more in. It kind of makes me sick just thinking about it. And the yard sales, well, they were just like my Grandma’s.
Something for everybody, I tell ya. Tables everywhere. Tents for shade, clothes on racks. Furniture in the driveway, everything had a department. Drinks too. In fact, the very last yard sale I had, I was actually selling my Grandmother’s things. She had died that year and we were clearing out the vast collection of knick-knacks, vases, and clocks that she was known for. My mom used to say trying to sleep in that house was terrifying because there were so many clocks tick-tocking at different intervals that you couldn’t relax enough to fall asleep. Sheesh. And the house was also equipped with it’s own burglar alarm. My Grandma’s vase collection lined every windowsill in the entire house, no one could open a window without broken glass everywhere. We’re talking over a hundred. a hundred vases. Fat ones, skinny ones, colored ones, glass ones, plastic ones, brass ones. But otherwise, neat and tidy.
Hoarding is in my blood, I’m afraid. Call it quirky or call me crazy, if you want. I have an eye for color and I like to look at pretty things. There is an artistic process to how all this stuff shows up. I’ve seen enough cable TV to know where that leads, so I have chosen to exercise a little self-control.
Back to the yard sale, I was kind of disappointed to see how much we didn’t have to sell. I know, that’s the crazy again, but you kind of want it to look full. Otherwise, folks slow down and drive by, and then keep moving on. We had mainly big stuff. Furniture, air conditioners, rugs. Baby clothes of course, but that’s about it. Not a lot to offer, and unless we got rid of the big stuff, we would have a full storage shed and NO MONEY. (gasp!)
Looking a little weak, if you ask me.
Well “Thank You Jesus!” Again! I swear God always comes through, even if He waits till the final hour to show His glory. We were able to sell all the big stuff, pay our car insurance, and come out ahead. It was all pretty amazing really.
We started putting our things out Thursday night for a two day sale. I had just set 2 beds out on the front lawn and my neighbor came over to check out my handiwork. I had a queen-sized canopy bed that I refinished, distressed, and was absolutely in love with… but I built a new bed, remember? This one had to go, and I am excited to say that she took it off my hands. Now I can go visit if I start to miss her. It was my favorite shade of green, you know.
My other neighbor bought our rugs. Again, my “dream rug” that I stalked at Lowes for months just waiting for a sale. The rug I “had to have” is now on my neighbor’s floor. But hey, you can only cover 1000 square feet with so many rugs, right?
This is the hard part, this letting go business.
But while I was taking pictures of things to put on craigslist, I captured this moment. And now I know why I haven’t had a yard sale in four years.
It’s people over stuff.