Go home, Barter Broads. This isn’t 1882.

At the last garage sale I ran, there was a neighborhood “shopper” who I highlighted in the Garage Sale Aftermath blog. We called him Mr. Ferris. Mr. Ferris has descended from thieves and neer-do-wells and has learned the lifestyle well. He tried to steal my ipod, which was right next to my chair, pinned under my personal, a-little-green-at-the-top, perfect banana. He knew better. We all know that he knew better. He knows he knew better.

But because garage sales in my tiny town seem to share the same 12 people at every one, I knew I’d see Mr. Ferris again. That’s how these things work. Today was another garage sale.  I have, over the last few months, thought through appropriate things to say to him. I wanted to make my message clear while still presenting a Christlike mindset. But even Jesus wasn’t fond of thieves. But I guess the Temple is also different from the random garage. Either way, I had planned on writing him a little note and setting some really strict ground rules. He was not going to be given free reign, like he apparently had during the last go-round. But there are a lot of things to be done in order to pull off a reasonably successful garage sale, so my personal correspondence to Mr. Ferris did not happen. Even so, my mind was set.

The sale started at 8.  The vultures began swirling at 7:30.

The sisters looked to be sisters in their early 70s. If they do speak English, they won’t speak it to me.  Let’s call them Flim and Flam. They wanted to buy some things. To pay for these items, they wanted to offer us acorns out of our own yard. But I had a secret weapon to combat their thievery. I had Spemma (Spanish Emma). Spemma can old her own with old non-English-speaking ladies. Within moments, there was a conversation going on, thick with numbers and “No, Cinco.”

To this moment, I don’t know if they were primarily cheap (to a FAULT), unintelligent, uncultured in the rules of garage sales, or dishonest. It may have been a combination of some of the above. What I do know is they were a problem. A HUGE problem.

You know what I really hate at garage sales? I hate it when someone just picks and picks and picks at you over 75 cents and when you finally agree to ridiculous terms, they hand you a twenty.  Well, now. Looks like you could have afforded my original price, doesn’t it?

While Spemma was trying to secure some funds from this very terrible transaction, Mr. Ferris walked up. Awesome timing. As is his custom, he walked up all friendly like and started making friendly banter. I was emotionally ready for this one. I simply looked him in the eye and said, with a smile on my face,

“You tried to steal my iPod. Do you remember?  I remember,” I said and I motioned to the merchandise and finished it off with, “Everything here is full price for you.” He had a stunned look on his face. Was he stunned that a regular person of  non-CIA parentage could see straight through his super sneaky schemes? Or was he stunned that anyone would think him a cheat? He started to back away, obviously wounded, and said, “Well, that’s not a very good way to start out.”

And he left.

And I don’t regret anything I said or his leaving.

A garage sale is not an excuse for poor behavior or business tactics.

Flim and Flam were back 30 minutes later.  They wanted to make a return.  Did you catch that? They wanted to return a one dollar, working, lantern-style flashlight. I have several responses to this. They are as follows:

  • No.
  • No. If you want to return merchandise, shop at Target.
  • Actually, shop at Target no matter what.
  • Go away. We were tired of you 2 hours ago.
  • We do not accept returns.
  • No returns. No exchanges.

She tried then to go find a little dish of some sort. She walked it up to us and said, “Este para eso?” which meant “This for that?” Apparently, she didn’t understand the “no returns, no exchanges” policy.

“No.” (She had opened her mouth to speak again.)

“No.” Just no. No. I know you understand this. In Latin, Italian, Spanish, and English, No is always the same.

They left. We sold. We chilled a little.

And then up walked Dirty Old Man. My local friends reading this blog will know who I mean. If you’ve been to a garage sale in this little town, you may have shopped alongside this creepy fella. But if you have hosted a garage sale, you have definitely met him. He comes to every garage sale. Every single one. And he shuffles up in his 86-yr-old pair of slippers and asks if we have any dresses in his size. Then he pulls out the fake one million dollar bill. Then he tells the dirty triplets joke. Blah, blah, blah. He doesn’t buy anything. He’s just looking for friends. Bide your time. Try not to vomit right in front of him.

Today he left out the three standard jokes that he usually tells (he has new material now!) and went straight for Spemma. He asked her to marry him. But just for the weekend. I think I could have had him arrested for this.

He had a cold sore.


Creepy and gross.

Noon arrived and we were totally shot and ready to close up shop. So that’s precisely what we were doing. And up walks Flim and Flam. Again. We just were not going to have any more of this. So we pushed Spemma out in front to spew the following phrases over and over and over again. “No mas. No mas. Finito. No mas.” That means, “No more. Finished. No more.”

We will not sell you anything. Nothing.

So you know what they did? They sat down on the couch we were about to move back into the garage and watched us pack up. Ten minutes they sat there. And they remained there until we started to pick up the couch on which they were sitting.

So we locked them in the garage.

They are still there.

That’ll teach em.

9 thoughts on “Go home, Barter Broads. This isn’t 1882.

  1. I once had a yard sale and had two separate people give me counterfeit twenty dollar bills. The took all my change AND left me with fake money which I unknowingly tried to spend at the ice cream stand. Boy, did I look like a jerk trying to buy a ice cream cone with a fake twenty! Now I get one of those pens they use at the store before I take any large bills at a yard sale!

  2. Get this! We had a woman who came to our sale in January, then 2 1/2 months later called to say she never got her mattress and boxsprings for which she paid $25. She had left the set because she had no way to pick it up and several days later someone arrived to get it, did get it, and I am positive she got it too! She was saying that her son-in-law never picked it up. But someone picked it up and how would they have know about it if she didn’t tell them? Weird!

  3. I always believe everything in your blog; but surely none of this happened. There just can’t be people in the world (or at least in this country; and why are they in this country anyway?) who act like this.

  4. I had forgotten about Dirty Old Man. Like Mr. Ferris, I once told him to leave one of our sales. Never had the pleasure if meeting the Barter Broads.

    Thanks for watching out for Memma (my Emma). Sounds like you guys made a good team.

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