There's really only one valid reason to get out of bed early on summer weekends, and that's to hit the garage sale circuit. In the past I've been rather diligent about it (as long as the preceding evening didn't involve too much in the way of booze or boys, or that tricky combination of both), and as Summer 2005 looms I'm slowly getting back in the swing of things.
Last year, during my travels throughout this lovely county, I made some observations about what people might do to make their garage sale experiences more fun and profitable. But keep in mind that I've never actually had a garage sale of my own. I think strangers perusing my belongings and then rejecting them would do very little for my self-esteem.
If you're having a garage sale:
• Newspaper notices are great if you have rare or otherwise exciting stuff you want to let people know about, but well-placed signs work just as well.
• Try to keep your sale sign from looking like the Declaration of Independence. Date, address, and time are all the information needed.
• Even better? Zipping around the morning of your sale and posting signage with just the word "Sale" and an arrow, hopefully pointing in the correct direction. And balloons are always nice.
• Convince a few neighbors that it's time to part with some of their junk, too. There's nothing that gets the heart of a bargain hunter racing quite like a little cluster of sales on one street.
• Be reasonable with your pricing, but don't let anyone bully you into lowering a price that you're hell-bent on getting. There's always eBay.
• Put a price on all the items you wish to sell. And if someone asks how much something costs, don't even think about saying, "I don't know. What do you want to pay for it?" I'll save you the suspense: We want to pay nothing. So either name a sum or fork it over.
• Prepare for bad weather. This is, after all, Rochester.
• Spend a couple of minutes taking your signs down after the sale. You will be so loved.
If you're attending a garage sale:
• Don't show up before the designated time of the sale. Yeah, some people might get there before you, but everyone hates them.
• Make a concerted effort to park courteously. Traffic still needs to get up and down the street even though you just spotted a green Furby.
• Be respectful of your host's merchandise. Fold something up if you unfolded it, and return it to its packaging if you dragged it out. And don't mock their stuff in front of them --- granted, they don't want it either, but at one time that magic defrosting tray probably seemed like a good idea.
• Feel free to haggle, but don't get too greedy or insulting about it.
• Try to have small bills and change on you for payment. The only people who appreciate a $50 bill shoved in their face at 9 a.m. operate outside the law.
And anyone interested in the art of the deal should set aside July 30 and 31. That's the weekend of the annual New York State Route 90 50-Mile-Long Garage Sale, which stretches from Montezuma to Homer. For more information, visit www.cayuganet.org/route90/shopping.html