By Cathy Kotze

Some emigrants can afford taking their entire household with them when they emigrate, but most of us have to start from scratch.

Luckily, there are GARAGE SALES.

This typical North American institution has been the salvation of many an immigrant. Someone else’s rubbish could easily become your most prized possession.

Canadians and Americans prefer the latest version of anything. After a year or so everything is discarded: furniture, television sets, paintings, stoves, fridges, clothes, toys, kitchenware …

The solution? Have a garage sale. Place an inexpensive advertisement in the local newspaper, and on a fine Saturday morning you put everything you deem redundant in your garage and driveway – and wait for the rush.

This rush is a given, because everyone is dreaming of the bargain of the century. Claire Wiegand-Beckmann of the US bought a small card table for $25 on a garage sale, and a couple of years later it was sold by Sotheby’s for $541 500!

When grandpa and grandma depart from this life, their children and grandchildren have a garage sale. All the valuable items they collected over the years are now up for grabs. Fortunately, there always will be those who will cherish such items.

Dedicated garage sale bargain hunters carefully inspect everything on display. There may be a Rembrandt or an undiscovered Van Gogh among the stacks of picture prints. And who knows, that toddler splash paint picture could be a genuine Jackson Pollock creation!

Vintage and retro toys are very popular. Furniture to pick and choose. Crockery. Expensive tools …

The man in my life had to leave behind most of the tools he had collected over a period of 40 years in South Africa. He was heart-broken, until he discovered garage sales. These days his workshop is crammed with only the best, and for most of them he did not pay more than $10 each.

His collection of cameras is impressive and worth thousands of dollars, but he never paid more than $20 per camera.

My Noritake dinner set I got for $8. For the three fine Royal Albert tea sets I paid $10 each. We paid $20 for a lovely antique cedar chest.

We even have constructed our own small weather station from old-style and antique valuables.

One sometimes tend to go slightly overboard at garage sales. I don’t think we really have to have SIX cuckoo clocks. And I have my doubts about all those magnificent wall-mounted clocks in our own garage – there is no more space in our home!

Garage sales have been good for us. So good, in fact, that we have had to have THREE sales ourselves!

This post is also available in: Afrikaans


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