Proving Des Moines is NOT boring

The Signs of Summer in Des Moines

Nothing screams summer in Des Moines like a street corner crowded with a bunch of garage sale signs. Every Thursday in the summer (and late spring and early fall), the signs go up around town, advertising that week’s big sales. Garage sale-ing enthusiasts are quick to detour from their intended destinations with one glance at a sign reading “multi-family” or “block sale”. This weekend I jump into the fray as I am hosting my first garage sale in probably ten years!

garage saleMy mother used to have the occasional garage sale when I was younger. I got to be her assistant. More than hosting them though, I remember my mother’s love of shopping at garage sales. While she always enjoyed a good bargain, once she had grandchildren, her love for a garage sale only grew. She would spend the day Thursday mapping out her route, targeting houses that advertised “baby girl” items as well as “toys”. Now my mother has been gone for over nine years, so back in her garage sale-ing heyday, there were no Facebook announcements, no Craigslist posts, no Google maps to tell her where to go. She would sit with the classified section of the Des Moines Register and a map of Des Moines in front of her, plotting her course.

I lived out of town during these years, so I never accompanied her on her garage sale shopping trips. I can only imagine the haggling, the inspections, the wheeling and dealing she must have loved while out shopping. My mom loved car shopping for the same reasons she loved garage sale-ing: the thrill of paying less for something than the seller had asked.

Each visit with Grandma then would bring a new outfit or a new toy for my daughter. Certainly she would have been sure to launder or disinfect her purchases prior to passing them along. My mom delighted in bringing a smile to our faces with the presentation of a new item. Many of my daughter’s favorite toys and outfits were courtesy of my mother’s garage sale excursions. I wish she were still here to shop for my littlest…

I did not inherit my mother’s love of haggling and subsequently I am not an avid garage sale-r. Luckily for me, however, there are many more like my mom who recognize the value in a garage sale purchase and enjoy the experience as well. Hopefully many of these people come to my garage sale! This Thursday it will be me posting signs along Berkshire Parkway between Douglas and Hickman. This Friday, I am sure a few proud Grandmothers will stop by for some of my baby girl items and may try to haggle with me (try it…I am awful.) Hopefully by Saturday, I will have a few extra bucks in my pocket and a little more room in my closets. The whole time, I will be thinking of my mom and how she would have loved to be there to keep me company and help me haggle. To this day, a cluster of garage sale signs along the side of a road always reminds me of two things: 1) my mom and 2) that it is summer in Des Moines!