They came together, the garage sale signs and the moving trucks. This weekend has already been full of both in my little town. For Sale signs are springing up, sometimes 4-5 to a block. Folks are opening their doors and saying "make an offer, everything has got to go".
It is unsettling, really.
I usually do a lot of shopping at thrift stores or garage sales...it just seems to make sense that if you can get something 'pre-owned' for so much cheaper than paying retail that you would. I guess I just don't have a lot of pride that way. I was so happy when I started seeing so many garage sales, with so much great stuff. Folks are selling really nice furniture, toys, books and movies....at first it seemed like an amazing stroke of luck. I was carefull, since the economy has affected us here at the Barefoot Manor right along with everyone else. I had in my head certain things I was looking for, sizes for the Sprout's clothes, prices I was willing to pay for certain things.
And then I started noticing that a lot of the houses with garage sale signs also had 'house for sale' signs. I started hearing mothers talking to their husbands about how it was sad to see Grandma's hutch go, but where would they put it when they moved? I started seeing that a lot of the things that were on sale were things that had been in use by these particular families not so very long ago.
Suddenly, it wasn't such a bonanza after all.
Our neighbors, who have only lived in their house for 2 weeks longer than our own residence at Barefoot Manor of 10 months, are having a huge garage sale. Both the Mom and Dad are out of work, and they are selling everything not nailed down. Noone has said as much, but the feeling I get is that they are trying to get enough money together to keep them going until one of them can find work. Every day I see the Wife out, clucking her tongue at a garden that is not doing well. She comes over and looks at my bed of onions doing so well and mentions that she will have to try my raised bed system next season. Unspoken is the thought 'if we're here next season'.
Down the street is a family that has had a garage sale every weekend for the last month. Every weekend there is new stuff out in the yard to replace the items already sold. There is a little girl still playing with her toys that are spread on blankets with little round price tags on them. The mother sits in her lawn chair in the shade by the house every day, all weekend long. Only when a car stops does she get up from her perch in hopes of making a sale.
I almost feel guilty that we are doing so well. Mr. Barefoot and I are both still working, with no rumors of either of us losing our jobs. We are still being carefull, making sure to fill the garden to capacity and working on food stores. We are still making sure to focus on getting our debt paid off and making sure that there will be heat for the family this winter. But we are doing well. When I go to these garage sales and hear the families talk of not knowing where they will end up, or see that they are selling beloved items that they would rather keep, it breaks my heart. A part of me feels it's wrong to even think about buying the items that they love, and a part of me wants to buy something - anything - in an effort to help them out, if only in a small way.
Change is in the air, for sure. I think some good will come from it all - eventually. Folks will start to value the little things again. Family will regain it's importance in our society. Folks will learn that we can survive, and even be happy, with so much less than what we think.
But getting there is going to be a strange road....