In theory, a garage sale is a great idea.
But, in theory, so is trying to ride a shark.
Not owning a garage, a yard, or even a shrubbery, Stephanie and I pitched the idea of a joint garage sale to our friends Benedict and Laura.¹ Benedict and Laura are Real Adults who actually have a garage and a yard.
And thus the comedy of errors began.
First came, The Professionals.
Our posted start time was 8:00 AM, Saturday. Our first customers arrived at 7:49 AM, and we were not even finished setting up. They swept through like a rabid crowd on the Blackest of Black Fridays.
Then came, The Hagglers. They make any garage sale depressing, because they can smell your desperation. The day before a garage sale, you mentally assure yourself, “I won’t sell [X item] for less than [Y price].” That doesn’t last long when The Hagglers show up.
“How much ya want for these old drum stands?” a man asked me.
“I’ll give ya three.”
I sighed. I caved. “Deal.”
“How much for this video game controller?” another Haggler asked.
I flinched. “One dollar.”
“Twenty-five cents, take ‘er or leave it.”
Ninja Music Man
While The Hagglers were fierce, they were nothing compared to Ninja Music Man.
He was so named due to a) his tabi boots and b) his persona. Ninja Music Man bounded to the yard as I laid out my goalie equipment. “I’ll take it!”
“The pads?” I asked.
“All of it!”
“Great,” I said. “The whole set will be–”
“No, I mean everything. All of it. Everything you guys are selling,” he said, his cadence doing Harold Hill proud.
I looked around for the Punk’d video crew. “Uh.”
“And I want a 25% discount.”
To sum up: he wanted to buy the entirety of our garage sale, in one giant lot, at a 25% discount.
Then the best part: “I don’t have any cash on me right now.”
“I can come back here around noon with cash.”
“I don’t think–”
Without a pause, “Do you have Paypal? I could Paypal you the money. Or Google Wallet!”
I searched my person for label showing I was born yesterday: “No.”
“Do you have a Square credit card reader for your iPad?”
“I don’t even have an iPad.”
At this point, Stephanie came to my rescue. Stephanie, a retail veteran, wouldn’t bend, and called his bluff. “You can buy everything right now if you have the cash. We won’t hold anything for you.”
He offered a sweetener: “I’m an event promoter, y’know. I can put you all on the guest list for an event downtown tonight.”
Despite our lack of interest in being VIPs, Ninja Music Man was not deterred. In fact, he proceeded to go around the yard rearranging our displays.
“What are you doing?” Stephanie asked as he finished pairing up the shoes and proceeded to hang towels over a shoe rack.
“I’m setting this up like IKEA!”²
I turned up the Grumpy: “We don’t want it to look like IKEA.”
“I’m just helping.”
“We don’t want your help,” I said.
He took the hint—about seventeen and half minutes later—and finally left. On his way out he said, “OK, I’ll be back around noon with the cash.”
Much to our delight, that was the last we saw of Ninja Music Man, although we collectively cringed when a car drove by the rest of the day.
There’s a saying about quirky characters which goes, “They only come out at night.”
I disagree. It should go, “They only come out for garage sales.”
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