Rummage: A confusion of miscellaneous articles.
I don’t do rummage sales. People who can find bargains at rummage sales are my heroes. I admire them because I can’t do that. I buy things that are totally useless and that I will never use or I pay more for something than I would have paid at K-Mart. Bob is a good bargain hunter, though. He bought a little lawnmower a couple of years ago for a crazy cheap price and it has cut lawns every week-end for two years without a repair. If it had been me, I would have paid 4 times the price and the darn thing would have fallen apart a week later.
I don’t have rummage sales, either, because I make a pig’s breakfast out of all that I use and wear so there’s not much left that could be saleable. I use mixing bowls and hand mixers to blend concrete for stepping-stones. I clean the bathtub in work clothes, splashing bleach on my favorite shirts. I draw on important documents, turn down pages on books, and wrap sick dogs in my good sheets. (I can feel my mother’s spirit sigh in frustration with her messy, careless daughter.) At my advanced age, you would think there would be a pause button that said, “STOPPPPPPP!!”
There’s not. I have things that I love. My drawing pencils and kneaded erasers. My soldering iron. My glass grinder. Everything else that I’m in love with are people and they know who they are. I have been careless with them, too, but life and loss have made them treasure beyond value. What is that saying? “You never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.” I’ve spent lots of moments without a thought that they are a limited resource. I try not to do that.
We had a rummage sale for a non-profit last Saturday. For weeks in advance, we requested donations from folks cleaning their closets and garages who didn’t want to have their own sales. The Sunday before the sale, we dragged in boxes and unpacked donations. There were clothes, toys, small appliances, art work, and furniture. Plenty of kids’ clothes and jeans which are allegedly hot items at garage sales. There were also boxes filled with dirty laundry and unwashed dishes. We had a stack for “grab the paper towels and spray cleaner,” one for “throw in the washer,” and another for “go directly to the dumpster.” When we took breaks, we washed our hands up to our elbows. At the end of the day, we assessed the donation tables and smiled. People had been good to us; we would have a successful rummage sale on Saturday.
We met on Friday for final pricing. We had plenty of help which was handy. There was furniture to re-arrange, signs to make and post around town, and our sale goods to place in the most esthetically pleasing way. The sale was starting the next morning at 7 a.m. so there wouldn’t be time to do much work before the sale. I left when there were still people marking prices and shuffling things around, but it looked like they wouldn’t be there much longer.
It was dark when I arrived the next morning. Our committee chair brought her mother to cashier for us. Thank heavens for that! Not that one of us couldn’t take money, but my friend’s mom runs estate sales and has no problem saying “Absolutely not! That IS the final offer. I understand that they are marking down prices at 11. If you want to take your chances it will still be here, we can talk then.”
The rest of us run 80% people pleasers with the other 20% being non-confrontational. I’m both. My passive aggressive leaps in at things like our garage sale. I lower prices because I want the person happy with me and then resent them for asking for lower prices. (“Cheap buzzards!”) There’s just no winning with me.
We did a brisk business until about 10 when things slowed down. It picked up again at 11 when we started discounting. By noon when we surveyed all the clothes and home decor items that were left, we passed out plastic grocery bags, charging $1 for a filled bag. Things didn’t fly out of the building, but we didn’t have quite so much stuff to re-gift to Goodwill. At the end of the day we exceeded our low expectations which is a fool-proof formula for high fives. Setting low expectations, I mean. We also exceeded our high expectations so we were really, really happy.
We packed a couple of pickup trucks with the leftovers and cleaned up after ourselves. I put my purchases in the car: an ice cream maker for Bob ($5), a hummingbird feeder for the yard ($2.50), a garlic press for me (50 cents), and a wooden stand that a dressmaker’s dummy would top ($3). Bob will enjoy the ice cream maker, the birds will appreciate the feeder, and I will use the garlic press. My last one ended its service when I tried to use it as a hammer which made sense at the time but sounds pretty goofy now.
For the life of me, I don’t know why I bought the stand. Maybe it was because I like the woman who donated it; maybe it was because she patted it goodbye when she left it at the sale. She had a houseful of children, all grown now. How many Sunday dresses, prom gowns, costumes, and suits did it model for her as she sewed? Did she lovingly touch the garments as she imagined them on her young ones. It seemed like a shame to let it go into the trash.
Will it make a plant stand in its next incarnation? A lazy susan? There’s a hefty turntable at the base where she must have swirled it to check hems and get a 360 view of her project. Whatever it becomes, its career as a base to model newly sewn creations is over. I have delusions of grandeur but not in the realm of couture. It will be interesting to see how it enters this next stage of furniture life. More will be revealed . That works for sobriety and life and recycled craft projects.