The Garage Sale Review: The Circle of Life['s crap]

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Roger Rice, an avid hunter of bargains at garage sales, examines one of his favorite things to find when he's out treasure hunt
Roger Rice, an avid hunter of bargains at garage sales, examines one of his favorite things to find when he's out treasure hunt

Howdy, you wonderful people!

It’s time for another edition of The Garage Sale Review. If you don’t remember, The Garage Sale Review is just a fancy name for that thing I do on Mondays where I talk about all the funky junk I find for sale in strangers’ yards and garages around Austin. It’s a breathtakingly fun time, let me tell you. There’s nothing quite like reaching your bare hand into an unlabeled cardboard box, pulling out a strange family heirloom from the ’80s and haggling with the seller over the heirloom’s price while trying to avoid touching the stray pieces of hair that have adhered to the object’s faintly sticky exterior. Trust me, brave adventurer, ignore that stickiness; it will all be worth it when you get home, wash your hands and immediately toss your purchase onto some shelf where you’ll never see it again. Well, at least until you host your own garage sale and attempt to dump the sticky artifact onto some other unsuspecting traveler. That’s the way the sacred Circle of Life(‘s crap) works, you see?

At this point, you might be saying to yourself, “When is this guy going to stop blabbering and do the thing where he talks about weird garage sale stuff?” Well, guess what, people who might be saying that? I’m not going to do that this week. Now, before you click away to check on your Myface’s and Twappers, allow me to explain.

This is a very special week in the short but lovely life of The Garage Sale Review. As you may be aware, Father’s Day was this last weekend. Father’s Day is a pretty important day for fathers everywhere, no doubt, but it’s perhaps the most important day for this series of garage sale focused Internet postings. If you’ve read the last two weeks’ posts, you know that the fire that burns in my blood for yard sales can be traced back to my own father, whose passion for garage selling is like a fierce, blazing sun compared to my own. Given The Garage Sale Review’s roots, I feel like it’s only right that I call him up on this day of days and conduct a short Q&A with the man. So, without further ado, I give you Allen West.

Actually, he didn’t answer. But fear not, there is a substitute! Roger Rice, a long-time friend of my father’s and a valiant garage-seller to boot, has graciously agreed to answer any questions I might have.

Q&A with Roger Rice, a seasoned garage seller

The Garage Sale Review: How long have you been garage selling?

Roger Rice: 15 years, probably. [confers with Ms. Rice, who is sitting next to him]. Well, 25 years. Let’s make it 25 years. I’ve consulted someone else who knows me better, so 25 years.

GSR: Who introduced you to garage selling?

RR: I don’t know. Myself. My dad and my mom weren’t garage sale people, but I enjoy it thoroughly.

GSR: What stands out to you as a particularly juicy find at a garage sale that you’ve been to?

RR: Last year I found two bicycles that were five bucks apiece that I gave to Steve (Mr. Rice’s son) and Jessica (Steve’s girlfriend) for Christmas. They were $1,000 bikes that I got for five bucks apiece.

GSR: Did the sellers not know they were $1,000 bikes?

RR: I don’t know if they did or not. One was a Bianchi and one was a Trek. We had actually already bought Steve a bike that he wanted but then the next week I found these bikes that were better than what he asked for. The secret is to go to a bunch of them and you’ll find something you want at a really good price.

GSR: What’s the strangest thing you’ve found at a garage sale?

RR: Women’s underwear. I find it to be extremely strange that anyone would buy underwear from a garage sale. Also, wedding dresses. I see those at garage sales and that’s just bizarre.

GSR: Do you have any advice for any novice garage sellers out there?

RR: Don’t feel like you have to buy something from every garage sale. Go to multiple garage sales — one or two won’t be enough. The earlier you go the better.

GSR: What time do you hit the streets when you’re garage selling?

RR: If the garage sale starts at 7, you need to be there at a quarter 'til  7. And the reason is, if it’s a really good garage sale, by 7:30 they’re going to be finished selling all their stuff so you’re going to miss all of the good deals.

GSR: Any more tips?

RR: The best garage sales to go to are where someone is trying to get rid of their stuff and not trying to make a lot of money. There are professional garage sale people that use garage sales as a store outlet because they’re trying to make a living. Also, go with a buddy so that you have a good time even if you don’t end up buying anything.

GSR: What about any tips as far as haggling goes?

RR: Never pay what they’re asking. As the day goes on, the prices should drop, so be willing to walk away or at least act like you’re walking away if they don’t accept your price.

GSR: Wow, have you employed the bluff before?

RR: Oh yeah.

GSR: Is there anything that you find yourself buying a lot of, inexplicably perhaps?

RR: Barbecue pits.

There you have it, folks — sacred advice from a veteran garage seller. We’ll be back to our normal programming next week, so stay tuned and watch out for barbecue pits; they’re like Sirens on the rocks.