Monday, February 24, 2014

Garbage Sales in Winter... by Ben Hazlett

Since we were moving back to Meridian, we decided to brave the cold January weather and try to have some yard sales in Ontario.  In spite of rain, snow, and freezing temperatures, we had a lot of success and sold a large majority of surplus things that we didn't want to move (like the huge front loading washer and drier). 

So naturally now that we're moved in with my father-in-law, Verl, and have had the chance to sort through even more things in both our home and my father-in-law's home, we suggested having another.  My father-in-law told my son: "your mommy wants to have another GARBAGE sale." To which Benson replied: "Papa, that's silly we don't sell garbage we sell our stuff... and hot chocolate..." Then he quickly added: "And we don't sell my toys, bike, swing set or... (thinking) ME!"

I had never heard it called a garbage sale either... I guess if one man's trash really is another man's treasure, then it fits.  This brings me to the first thing I learned from this weekend's sale: value depends a lot on need.  For instance, we had one individual who serves in the armed forces stop by.  He has recent had some tragic and unfair circumstances befall him which has left him with nothing.  So, while to us the nice, but superfluous queen-sized mattress, box springs, and frame were just taking up space, to him it was an entire bed for $75. Now one of our veterans no longer has to sleep on the floor. 

It's funny, although we had made a killing at our last 2 yard sales... er... I mean garbage sales, Verl was still skeptical. "No one's coming," he said the night before.  Repeatedly during the sale he would point at glasses, a vase, or some other object and say "no one will buy that".  Invariably with in several minutes of one of those statements, we did in fact sell that very item.  Oh, and people showed up at 8:30am when it started at 9am and kept coming steady until 2pm.  Some times in life Field of Dreams has it dead on: "if you build it, they will come."  How often in life do we have to walk a ways with the faith that it will work out alright in the end?  

Of course, it didn't take long for my father-in-law to come around. Then he started selling more things than I did.  Some little sweet elderly lady would pull one little spatula out of a box and Verl was right there: "buy the whole box and I'll make you a deal."  Then it was my turn to be skeptical.  "That'll never work," I thought.  "No one is going to buy a box full of junk for one thing they want." Sure enough, he sold more "box deals" than I would have thought possible... though I think some of them just bought the whole box to make him happy.  

So to continue the theme here, what's the life lesson in selling a box of junk?  As I have learned several times recently, a lot of times you have to buy the whole box of junk to get the one or two things you want or need. For instance, as I mentioned before, my dad died after a long struggle with early-onset dementia. That sure seamed like a box full of junk.  But, I was privileged to have him for more than 23 years.  He gave me the perfect example of how to live and what kind of father to be.  And even in death he has taught me how to deal with the loss of a parent so that I can help my wife Mary deal with the loss of her sweet mother. 

So the next time you are thinking about either having or going to a "Garbage sale," just remember, you might just come away with some treasure... or at least some additional perspective.