How much for the load of crap?

Janet Urquhart

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, so they say. In Grand Junction, one family’s crap is another family’s kitsch. Make that passe kitsch.

I’m pleased to say my family was the one selling the crap, not buying it. Of course, how we came to own it in the first place is a matter I’d rather not contemplate.

Lured by the prospect of emptying my parents’ house of even a fraction of their ample possessions, plus a share of the proceeds, I headed for the big GJ last weekend to help run a garage sale. And when I say “run,” I mean sit in a chair and make change for people with truly questionable tastes.

I had hoped to see the garage stuffed to the rafters, given my parents’ penchant for, shall we say, accumulation and closet clutter, but when I arrived, I found the tables stacked with a scant sampling of stuff. They’d barely made a dent.

Every time I pulled Mom aside and pointed to some item and hinted that it might be added to the array of merchandise, she’d say, “Your father won’t let me sell it,” or “Your brother might want it.” When I’d privately suggest my Dad slap a price tag on something and toss it out in the garage, he’d reply, “Your mother won’t let me sell it” or “Your mother thinks your brother might want it.”

I wonder if my brother knows he may want a doll buggy.

Despite what I felt sure was a lackluster assortment of used goods – one that would entice few to pull out their wallets – I opened the garage door at the appointed hour on Saturday morning and then ran for cover. I was nearly trampled by the rush of strangers lurking outside – people who’d arrived early just to make sure they had first crack at things like a broken toaster oven, a stack of old Reader’s Digests and a box of rusty wing nuts. (The latter actually sold, by the way.)

Let me just say, the garage sale crowd includes some cutthroat bargain hunters. These people ought to be in procurement for the Pentagon; there’d be no more headlines about $640 toilet seats.

By noon, I was holding a half-off sale on anything priced at a buck or more. After all, the best stuff – the king-size blanket in a putrid shade of green and several pairs of used shoes, for example – was already gone. And still, huffy shoppers were haggling for a better deal.

A brand-new patio-table umbrella, marked at $15, was now down to $7.50, but a guy driving a $30,000 SUV started dickering over the price. Six bucks was his final offer. I sent him packing, sans umbrella. Guess I showed him who rules the rummage.

Of course, the umbrella is still taking up space in the garage. Oops.

At the end of the day, our in-house accountants tallied close to $200 in receipts.

There is, however, no accounting for taste.

Janet Urquhart wishes she could buy a garage. Her e-mail is