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About three weeks ago, my neighbors had a yard sale. I heard them setting it up while I was still in bed at 7:30 and then got to watch all the buyers descend a couple of hours later while I had coffee at my kitchen table, which looks out onto their driveway. They sold a good amount of stuff and their garage looked a lot emptier, and so I thought, good for them.

Then they set up the sale again the next weekend. Somehow, despite the stash they’d just gotten rid of, this sale looked even larger. The weekend after that, it rained, but the following weekend, they were back out again. And after a conversation with another neighbor, I caught on: this will be happening all summer. Basically, this is their new job. They pick through other people’s yard sales and cleared-out storage units, buy stuff, bring it home, and resell it. What can the profit margin on this possibly be, I wonder?

You know it’s spring around here when the yard sales start. Of course, I realize that yard sales happen in many places, but they do seem to be very popular in my current area, whereas I don’t remember seeing so many sale signs plastered around, say, Somerville each April and May. By contrast, Watertown has their annual Townwide Yard Sale (it happened last weekend, coming and going unbeknownst to me), which you must sign up for a couple of months in advance. It usually features around 50 sales throughout the city, which is cool if you want to spend all day driving around picking through other people’s junk.

Myself, I dislike having yard sales and don’t particularly enjoy going to them due to my massive impatience with the task of sorting through crap. I don’t care if it’s my crap or yours, I’d rather just box it up and donate it than argue with someone determined to talk me down from $5 to $3 for a pair of almost-new leather shoes. You can try to convince me that haggling is an art, and maybe it’s so if you actually need or desperately want something you otherwise don’t have the money for. However, it is an irritating art, and usually I don’t want any part of it. At a yard sale we held with some friends once, one of my friends got so fed up with someone trying to talk him down from the price of $10 for two working, albeit small, TVs that in the end, he refused to sell them to the guy at all. “I’d rather put them back in the basement,” he fumed. Yeah, I completely relate to that. That was the same sale at which I had a woman who lived up the street return a rock fountain she’d bought from me about ten minutes earlier because she didn’t like it when she got it home. Knowing it worked, I asked her what was wrong with it, and apparently, she didn’t like the way the water came out on the top tier of the fountain and then trickled down the rocks. I can only guess at what my face looked like when she said that, but instead of asking her what she’d expected from a tiered rock fountain, I gave her back her few bucks so she’d go away forever.

So I guess what I’m saying is, despite the extra traffic and the random people wandering around literally right next to my bedroom and kitchen windows, I’d rather look at a perpetual yard sale while drinking coffee than have one going on in my driveway. If my neighbors think they’re on “Storage Wars” or “American Pickers” or whatever, so be it. But woe to the next idiot who parks me into my driveway in order to browse…

Oh, and you crazy kids, get off my lawn!

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