Saturday, 10 March 2012

The Value of Stuff

by Linda from The Witches Kitchen

I went to a garage sale this morning, and it has been going round in my head all day. "Are you moving", I asked, just by way of being friendly. "Yes", she said, "My ex has already moved out. Half this stuff is his."  Huge piles of stuff out on the footpath to be collected for the tip. Huge, unsorted, unloved piles and bags of stuff for sale. So much that it was hard to get enthusiastic about finding a bargain amongst it all.

Sometimes I like garage sales - I rarely shop for stuff anywhere else but op shops and garage sales. Second hand, ironically, doesn't usually mean worse quality. Often I can find beautiful quality things that have already stood the test of time. A lovely old damask tablecloth. A big, heavy china mixing bowl.  A bread baking tin already well seasoned. A garden fork made from real steel. A pair of real Birkenstock sandals. A "Made in Italy" woolen winter coat. A fishing rod that will make a great birthday gift.

Sometimes garage sales are nostalgic and wistful, when people are moving on from a stage of life that has memories.  Sometimes they are headlong and precipitate, when people are clearing decks and launching off into a new adventure. Sometimes they are even tawdry and tacky, when people shop as retail therapy, and end up with piles of junk that no-one, not even they really want at all.

But sometimes there are sad stories of stuff once desired, shopped for, bought, but in the end worth nothing. She sold us some weights that were his for $1. "Serve him right," she said, "for leaving me with all this stuff to get rid of."