When my parents first immigrated to America with two kids, they left behind almost all of their belongings. Upon arriving in Houston, Texas, where our family was being hosted by sponsors, my mom began the daunting task of acquiring “stuff.” Stuff we wanted, stuff we needed, stuff we could afford.
And that was the hard part.
Because we wanted A LOT.
We needed A LOT.
We could afford very LITTLE.
Until one day my mom was introduced to Garage Sales.
She was never the same again.
For our family this was the miracle she had been searching for.
Clothes for nickels, toys for pennies, lamps and vases and frames for mere dollars.
So it was no surprise that when we finally moved into our first apartment, our closets were bulging with, you guessed it, stuff.
We grew up on garage sales. And Kmart. (On a side note, it is super hard to be popular and cool when your back-to-school clothes come from Kmart. But she did her best, bless her heart).
As the years passed by and we moved to Southern California, our homes got bigger, our cars were slightly newer and suddenly we were shopping at THE MALL!!!!
But Saturday mornings came and off we went, hitting local garage sales to find happiness in someone else’s belongings.
I would be mortified, embarrassed to no end, always paranoid that we would eventually come across someone from the local school my sister and I attended. It was HORRIBLE.
And then I grew up, wised up, started paying credit card bills, had babies, and man, Garage Sales never looked so good! I remember before Superman was born, I went on a Garage Saleapalooza with my best friend, who was also preggers at the time, and we came back with enough stuff to put Babies R Us out of business. I will never forget turning a hideous yellow dresser that I bought for 25 bucks into a mint green treasure for my second born. I would kneel in the driveway in the high heat of summer, nesting like a mad woman, breathing in paint fumes (which sort of explains a lot….) feeling like I got the deal of the century. That dresser is still with us, tucked away in the kids’ closet, paint peeling and fading, its usefulness still outliving its style.
I definitely have rules for it though.
Books are great.
Furniture with artistic potential is a treasure.
Shoes and undergarments are a big NO NO.
And today I passed down the tradition of going to garage sales to my youngest, when we hopped in the Volvo, armed with one dollar bills, and made our way through our beautiful neighborhood. There was nothing special to buy, except when Superman found some random toys and made his very first garage sale purchase.
“Superman, you have to ask how much it costs,” I told my son. He approached the homeowner and her son and stood there, waiting for me to do it.
“Excuse me, we would like to know how much you would like for these toys?” I asked.
The mom nudged her son, and he began pricing like a true salesman: “Let’s see, the little one is a two dollars and the big one is five.” His mom grinned and adjusted his prices a bit, while Superman took out his five dollar bill. After getting his change, he carefully tucked it into his pocket, turned, looked up at me and said “That was easy mom! Let’s go find another one!”
Apparently he inherited the shopping gene just fine.