Not in my price range

A few years ago, my sister Sarah Nell and I attended what was destined to be the first of many estate sales. We both love them, even though they make me a bit sad. That first sale was in Hazlehurst and was organized and run by a professional group. Items were spread throughout the house with prices firmly attached. I was impressed and bought several items including books, a wok, and some flowerpots.

Since that fateful day, we’ve attended quite a few sales all over South Georgia including Vidalia, Lyons, and Ocilla. This past Friday, we drove over to Lyons to browse and look for treasures. In the first room I entered, my temper flared. The prices were outrageous. As I’d walked into the back door, I noticed a sign that said, “All flowers for sale, too. You dig them up. We provide the pots. Five dollars each.”

Just outside the door of what had obviously been a potting shed sat a dilapidated wheelbarrow. It was rusted with a crack running along the bed of it. Very neatly printed on one of the handles was “$40.00.”

“$40.00, my foot,” I sputtered, “for a worn-out wheelbarrow. I wouldn’t pay the twenty they’ll ask for on the last day when they cut their prices in half.”

I glanced around the kitchen for a while, looked at some beautiful dishes and furniture, then left. As I was going out the front door, I saw Sarah Nell coming my way. Her hands were empty, too. This group had priced these things that had been precious to the former owner right out of my price range. I’d gladly pay fair prices, not exorbitant ones. We left and decided to visit The Red Wagon there in Lyons while we were over that way. As I drove, we compared the two estate sales we’d been to that day.

The other was out in the countryside of Jeff Davis County, not too far from my house, even though I live in Appling. This sale was organized and run by family of the deceased. Everyone was friendly and helpful; the prices were reasonable. I bought a video tape about the goat man. If you remember him, you’re telling your age. He was a character from my 50s childhood. People would pass the word that he was coming, and families would turn out to see him and his goats that he traveled with. He lived his life with his animals as he chose and fascinated the rest of his world as he did. I remember Daddy taking Sarah Nell and me to see him at the Dairy Queen once.

If I had needed towels, I would have bought those freshly laundered ones that felt like 100 percent cotton. I did buy a medium-sized casserole dish for three dollars and some plastic storage ware. They had a dryer for fifty dollars which tempted me sorely since mine was currently torn up. However, Larry was waiting for the part to come in, so he could repair it. I reminded myself that patience is a virtue, and I’d do well to exercise a bit of it. I also left with two large umbrellas. Mine are always somewhere else when the rain comes. These probably will be, too, for that matter, but at least I’ll have extras. Maybe I can manage to keep one in the house and one in the car. Nonetheless, the ladies talked to us the whole time we were there. We enjoyed the visit and the shopping.

When we arrived at the Red Wagon and started browsing, I made a major discovery. The Red Wagon, which is made up of many booths with odds and ends to sale—everything from furniture to dishes to clothes to Knick-knacks, has many of the same things estate sales have, but their items are much more reasonably priced than the second estate sale we’d been to. I was delighted to find a Corelle teapot to match the dishes I’ve had for thirty or more years. I scooped it right up. No chips marred its surface and the lid fit just the way it should have. I found the decorative plate that now graces my mantle. I’m not sure Larry liked it as much as I do. He squinted, twisting his neck and the plate this way and that. He handed it back to me without comment after five minutes of careful examination. Nonetheless, I like it a lot.

I’m afraid those folks in Lyons at the estate sale lost my business for any future sale they might have. They reminded me of the big stores that lower the prices on their half-dead flowers hoping that someone will buy them. Not me. I won’t.

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