Have you ever been around someone who only talks about one thing—something completely uninteresting to you, like the stats and performance of a sports team, or, even better, some kind of fantasy-league sports team. On and on and on. Talking and talking. You can’t even feign interest because you have no idea what the basic parts of the subject are. It just seems to involve a lot of time on the computer, looking at players’ faces and some numbers that have to do with them. Boring. Painfully boring. (Andrew likes sports and has done the fantasy-team thing, but fortunately conversation about them is minimal.)
Alas, for the past few weeks it is I who have become the deadly bore. Of course, my topic of obsession has nothing to do with sports or fantasy sports. Instead, I have been talking much too much about a sale at the local Methodist church. They call it a “turnover sale,” and this is the seventy-eighth year the church has held it. Donations come from all over, and all the money raised goes to charity. And since Andrew is sick of hearing about it, and since yesterday was the last day of the sale, I will take this opportunity to talk about it one final time.
How to describe the sale? It’s not just a few tables of odds and ends set up in a church hall. The sale is meticulously organized in a gigantic outdoor tent and over two floors of the church’s social hall. Clothes, appliances, books, furniture, toys, tools, holiday decorations, baskets, jewelry, frames, makeup pouches, workout equipment, records, lamps—every category has its own dedicated space. It’s like the greatest garage sale or stoop sale multiplied by a hundred. It’s a treasure hunt. It’s eBay and Half and Craigslist and the Park Slope Parents Classifieds listserv all rolled into one. It’s like a Gabe’s for everything imaginable. And the best part—everything is pretty much as close to free as you can get.
My blood pressure is rising just remembering it. The sale was open for business six times; I went five out of those six. I filled the trunk of the car four times—literally filled it; once I had to put things aside in the church parking lot so I could drive back to get them. I hadn’t even known about the sale at first—I kept seeing a sign for a “Turnover Sale” whenever I drove past the church, but I didn’t know what it was. We drove past on the opening day, and a line to get in stretched down the block. “I think I better check this out,” I told Andrew. I hurried over after bedtime and from that moment there was no going back.
I’ve been garage-saling, flea-marketing, and Gabe’s-ing all my life, so I know how to look through junk. Getting down on the floor to root through tangled boxes is my forte. Doing this isn’t for everyone, of course, including my dear husband; but finding treasure among other people’s junk is second nature for me. Give me a tent’s worth of stuff that looks like it’s spent the past ten years out in someone’s garage, and I’ll find something worth getting excited about. And talking about way, way too much.
I could go on and on. I found great stuff, and I had a lot of fun finding it. And on Tuesday, I hired a babysitter, and after the girls were in bed I finally dragged Andrew along. He wasn’t into it at first—things were really picked over by then, and he stood idly by while I did some serious box-excavation—but he got more excited when we found a great chandelier for $5 and an even more fabulous vintage hunting-scene lamp (perfect for our library) for $10.
I bought so much I can barely remember it all. But here’s a partial recounting, totaling around $90. If the prices seem odd at times, it’s because sometimes I’d bring over a stack of stuff and they’d say “Take it all for $1”:
vintage Memory game, $1
vintage Perquacky game, $1
vintage Pit game, $1
chairs stacking game, $0.75
canister of letter-stickers, $0.75
large bag of tiny interlocking cubes (I think they’re used to teach “units” to kids), $1
Little People ferris wheel, $1
Little People amusement park (roller coaster and airplane-swings), $2
Little People garbage truck, $1.50
Two Playskool trucks, $0.50
Crayola easel, $5
vintage “toddler rocker”, $5
Sit n’ Spin, $5
lawnmower scoot-toy, $2
three outdoor wooden chairs with cushions, $5 (total! They were wobbly but Andrew fixed them.)
doll-sized jogging stroller, $7
doll-sized pack-and-play, $3
set of fireplace tools, $3
10 baskets, $1.75
fondue set, $5
serving tray, $3
knife sharpener, $0.50
large bag of tiny plastic dinosaurs (a counting toy), $1
bag of mini foam alphabet tiles, $2
gigantic foam-tile map of the U.S., $8
Lamaze-brand texture-caterpillar, $0.33
10 rings to attach things to stroller, $0.33
teether-ball thing for Greta, $0.33
bag of misc. ribbons, $0.25
craft-organizer drawer chest, $1
portable high chair for our porch, $3
2 buckets, $0.66
red stepstool, $0.33
vintage hunting-scene lamp, $10
4 picture frames, $4
tiny plastic mouse character, free (Lucia was with me that day and found this and the next two items on the floor. That’s my girl!)
orange plastic hand, free
a single metallic purple coin, free
Next year, my whole family plans to journey to New Jersey for the sale. I guarantee we will be among the first in line on opening night.