By Mary Lynn Bruny

For some people, the lack of garage sales during the pandemic has been a loss. Not for me; I’ve had enough for a lifetime.

As far as I can tell there are two types of garage sale shoppers: occasional and regular. Occasional buyers are looking for specific items once in a while. You know, sensible shoppers.

Then there are the zealots who go to garage sales almost every weekend. They have a whole different thang going on. They like to buy stuff they may or may not actually need or even want, but really enjoy the thrill of getting a deal. To these folks garage saling is an exciting competitive sport. Talking the seller down in price – be it $50 or 15 cents – gives them an endorphin rush.

We are all kooky in our own ways. And yet it seems to me that people who routinely go to garage sales are just a little kookier kind of kooky.

Take my brother-in-law, for example. He is a smart, kind, hardworking individual who on the surface seems completely normal. But lurking below that facade is a highly skilled super garage saler with the heart of a panther, ready to strike with precision force. This guy does not peruse; he conquers. He is the Terminator of garage sales. He strategically maps out his route the night before (based on projections of success), and arrives before the first garage sale actually starts.

This, I have learned, is what the really aggressive garage sale attendees do. They show up a half hour before (or even the night before!) at the sales that look really good. Some of these buyers make up pitiful excuses like they have to go visit their dying grandmother in the ICU. Could they please just zip through to see if they could purchase something for said grandmother to brighten her day? But then it seems curious that they buy a foosball table. That’s one spry grandma. These people are ruthless and have no moral compass. But I guess garage saling is like love and war: There are no rules, only winners and losers.

When I was a very, very big eight months pregnant with our first son (now six-foot, three inches tall), I went garage saling with my brother-in-law to look for baby-related items. This seemed like it would be an easy outing; he would do all the planning and driving. Silly me! You should not pair a slow, lumbering water buffalo with an edgy panther!

At the first stop, I was barely done hoisting my girth out of his car when he was done racing through the place and paying for stuff. By the time I starting wading through the piles, he was back in the car honking his horn at me. I barely had my person back in the car before he took off with the passenger door still ajar and me hanging on for dear life.

This went on for many sales, with my brother-in-law purchasing things faster than I could fathom. Eventually I bought an old wooden high chair. After many hours I was starving and suggested we head home so I could feed the huge demanding life form within me. But no, my brother-in-law was on a mission and would not be deterred by a weak compatriot. I just sat in the car nearly passing out from exhaustion and lack of substance until he finished his route and we returned home with our bounty.

As much as I liked that high chair (I painted it a jaunty purple and yellow), I would never go garage saling again. But interesting enough, our son occasionally likes to go to them. Go figure.

By Mary Lynn Bruny. Mary Lynn is a Boulder freelance writer. Contact her at ml.bruny@comcast.net.