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Spring Makeover Part 2: Spring Cleaning

May 7, 2012

My weekends have been so productive lately, y'all. I'm exhausted, but when the Makeover Itch hits, you gotta run with it. I am going to lose momentum at any moment and revert back to re-watching every episode of "30 Rock," "Arrested Development" and/or "Parks and Recreation" soon, but for now I have a supernatural motivation to upgrade my life.

(I still make time for regular programming -- "Mad Men," "The Killing," "Once Upon A Time," "New Girl," "Up All Night" and season four of "Breaking Bad," plus "The Young & the Restless" and new episodes of "30 Rock" and "Parks and Recreation." And when all 10 new episodes of "Arrested Development" are released on Netflix, I will devote my weekend to plowing through them.)

(Yes, I watch a lot of TV. If my parents hadn't restricted me from it so much when I was a kid, I probably wouldn't be this way. Playing outside is for the birds!)

(Put a bird on it.)

(When do we get a new season of "Portlandia"?)

Two Wednesdays ago I read about a community rummage sale in my neighborhood, so I bought a table and decided to get rid of clutter. Friday night Ashmi came over and helped me sort through all the junk in my apartment. (I'm ashamed to admit I have moved three times with a rusty dog carrier which never housed Noli, 14 random forks and three beat up Old Navy purses, among many, many other things.) Saturday morning I was up bright and early loading it all in my car, and by 9 a.m. I was open for business! Except it was cold and threatening to rain.

As I stood behind my table and looked hopefully at each person browsing through all the junk -- which was mostly old CDs and children's toys --, I realized I may have had visions of grandeur when I first read about the rummage sale. The last time I participated in something like this, in a church parking lot in Stone Mountain, Georgia (coincidentally, where Kenneth from "30 Rock" is from), I made at least $100. And any time my family had a garage sale, we made loads of money. I can remember taking all the ones I earned from selling off my toys and throwing them above my head in my bedroom, pretending I was Scrooge McDuck. (Duck Tales! Woo ooh!)

"How was this advertised?" I kept asking the other sellers. All anyone knew was that it was in a couple of neighborhood newsletters. We should've made a Facebook page, hung up fliers, asked local businesses to plug us, my PR mind silently scolded the organizers.

Have I got a deal for you! Everything for $1! PLEASE!
As the children ran around and asked their parents for this and that toy, or suddenly noticed their mother was selling a treasure from their toddler years and protested, we adults longingly gazed at anyone who was making a sale -- especially one person, Max.

Max couldn't have been more than eight years old. He was wheeling and dealing like a pro. It was pretty obvious that Max had been coached, but a lot of it must come naturally. I watched him argue with an elderly Asian woman. How can you argue with an old lady?! "I can't go lower than five dollars," I heard him say. She offered him three, her hand shaking as she handed it to him. "Nope," he said. "Five is my final offer. No sale if three is all you got."

You'd think that his stern attitude would have been off-putting, but that kid was raking in the cash. So when he wandered over to my table, I had to mess with him.

"How much for this dog carrier?" he asked me. That nasty dog carrier was priced as $3, and I would have given it to him at that point in the day, but I needed entertainment.

"Three dollars, but I'll give it to you for two."

"Hmm, I don't know..." Max trailed off, looking behind him at his puppy, some kind of shepherd mix, who was obviously not going to fit in that carrier that was meant for 7-pound Noli. "What if I gave you one dollar?"

"Okay Max, I'll take one dollar," I said.

He hmmed and I-don't-knowed for a few more seconds, then he said, "I think this could be really useful for my new dog. Okay, I'll give you one dollar." He reached into his pocket and pulled out a wad of cash. As he began to unfurl a one, he said, "On second thought, I'd rather give you change for it."

As the woman beside me and I chuckled, Max's dad walked over and ruined the sale. "Max, your dog isn't going to fit in this." GET OUTTA HERE, OLD MAN! I felt like yelling. I was about to make a dollar.

Max inspected it some more then abruptly looked up and said, "Eh, I don't think I'll get it."


I almost sold an end table to a hipster who looked about one step up from a hobo, but, after I'd dropped the price to $5 and he'd stared at it for at least 10 minutes, he finally told me, "I'm just not at a place in my life where I can deal with a glass table top." What the heck.

In the end I broke even and made about $30 on top of that. I donated most of my stuff, but it was such a great feeling to cleanse my teeny space of the junk. Next time, though, I will just call Salvation Army and have them come pick up everything. I found out after the fact that they will bring a truck with movers and take out your stuff, including furniture. A rummage sale may work in the suburbs, but not in the land of yuppies.


  1. When I was a kid we would bring in 100s at garage sales, and before I moved to London I made over 1000 selling off a lot of my worldly possessions (but I was selling most of what I owned). But in my neighborhood now a days (mostly Hispanic), they will pay 25 cents for a stained t-shirt but not $5 for a nice blouse. And if you put things out neatly on tables they will not look, but if is dumped on a sheet on the ground they will dig through it. We don't hold garage sales anymore but a lot of our neighbors have them frequently.

  2. I love everything about the photo of you in this post.

  3. I love everything about you in this photo!

  4. I'm not at a place in my life where I can deal with a glass table worth $5? That should be the postcard for guys women should avoid. I love that comment! Too funny!

  5. Oh dear. I loved your description of Max. I really, really wish he paid you a dollar BEFORE his dad came around. I mean, isn't it paradoxical that he's adult enough to sell his own stuff and make a fortune but not adult enough to make his own purchases?

  6. A wise man once said it's 70% coaching, 30% naturally coming.

    The question is, was this wise man The voice of his generation, or A voice, of A generation?


  7. Cleaning while earning is great! What a nice way to get rid of the mess in your place. I was planning to clear off my house and just throw the clutter in the junk but this post made me think twice about doing so. Maybe I will try my luck on a garage sale and hope that I will get some dollars out of it. Thank you so much for giving me this idea.

  8. Spring cleaning is such an amazing practice because this allows one to really get to assess which things need to go and which are still useful. If these are even put up for a garage sale, then there is a great possibility that you will even earn from your clutter. Thank you for sharing this post. This is just very inspiring.