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COMMUNITY COLUMNIST: Garage sales tell a lot about buyer and seller

By Penny Gumbert, special to the News

Okay, I admit it. I’m addicted to garage sales.
On Saturday mornings at 7:30, I already have my itinerary prepared for a two-hour thrill ride. It’s a fast-paced trek because all the good stuff goes quickly.
My itinerary is a map, not a list of items because it’s vital that you stay open to the experience, after all, and let the items ‘speak to you.’ You never know what you want until you see it!
That’s how I got the set of steps, with a washable cover, that allows my chihuahua entry to the adults’ bed. The brand new set of trunk organizers was another find and now cantaloupes no longer roll over freshly baked bread or squash the strawberries.
Yes, I admit, the silvery sapphire top was an indulgence.
It’s more than just buying things. There are the stories behind the sales. My frequent purchase, a needlepoint kit –  usually complete — always makes me wonder. Has someone failing eyesight? Are there no more friends who want her work? Has she switched to a new hobby?
What about the brand new pizza dishes, made in Italy –  did a gluten-free diet make pizza a no-no? The pages of sheet music are heart-wrenching. The pianist – is he a defeated soul or has he been silenced by arthritis or, worse, gone to another place?
The tailored suits and matching jewelry – a sad goodbye to a career or a brave hello to retirement? The doggy bed and toys? The snazzy wine opener? The yards of quilting fabric? And why can’t they even give away that Ouija board?
The buyers are an interesting bunch, too. Some come prepared to haggle and that’s their thing. Little ones follow their elders, learning words like ‘negotiate.’
Others have collections they’re trying to complete and this is perhaps why I received an unpleasant look when I snapped up a pristine boxed set of Hitchcock movies. Couple’s reactions to the same item is like watching a therapy session, with words such as ‘limits’ and ‘personal choice.’
Political correctness at a garage sale? Fuhgeddaboudit! Men hover over machinery and gadgets, remain focused on their needs, use few words and only purchase if things have a use. Women, however, take a different approach. They’ll caress another’s possessions, share memories and converse with the owners and each other. They’ll make decorating decisions when they buy the hand crocheted tablecloth or decide on a new hobby when they leap at the scrapbooking kit.
I rarely come home empty-handed. Perhaps it’s time for my own garage sale?
Penny Gumbert is a Mountain resident. If you would like to write in this space, call editor Gord Bowes at 905-664-8800 ext. 335.

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