At first, it felt like a lazy, early June Saturday morning but then I hear the clatter of card tables and voices. No sleeping in this morning—it’s garage sale day—a common phenomenon on the streets of Toronto in the summer months. You’d expect it in a small town, but garage sale fever is alive in well in our otherwise sophisticated (and expensive) “city of small towns”. I suspect that our annual street sale is one of the first.
As “established” street residents, John and I boast that we’ve participated each year for 20 years. That’s twenty June Saturdays where we’ve dragged valuable junk out of our basement and exchanged it for other valuable junk from our neighbours (that may actually be the same junk we sold them a year earlier).
There was the year when a lady down the street displayed her used designer clothes and a cat -fight (women, not cats) broke out on her front lawn. There’s the annual bun-warmer exchange (how many times can you re-sell an item among neighbours?) and the rocks I sold out of our front yard for $5 each (and they weren’t even for sale. One year when we weren’t paying attention, someone tried to buy our car.
The first few years were modest by today’s standards—a small block party that concluded with a baseball game at the local schoolyard and a barbecue in someone’s backyard. But there’s no stopping the technological advances of today’s garage sales. Now there’s a participation fee (not contact, as yet), part of the street is closed to traffic, and the day concludes with a street party, this year outfitted with a jumping castle, live band, an outdoor theatre to watch the Boston-Vancouver Stanley Cup final, and real live “street party” crashers.
All for the want of a simple garage sale, which despite it’s fancy wrapping, remains the only place you can still find albums (when they meant records), plastic flower pots (that were free in the first place) electric warming trays, unidentifiable kitchen gadgets (they were never able to be identified) and the occasional treasures that make the whole thing worthwhile.
So this year, when it was suggested we give it up, the entire street revolted.
“Give up the annual garage sale? Not a chance!”
So in the absolute pouring rain, and later shivering in actual winter coats at the barbecue, neighbours once again gathered and congratulated each other on another great event.
And the stuff I bought? It goes in the box in the basement marked for next year’s sale.