The Consignment Sale – by Cyma
Last weekend, my husband and I spent two days preparing items to take to my old neighbor’s bi-annual consignment sale. This is not your usual consignment sale; this is the mother of consignment sales. My neighbor prepares for months, delegating tasks, advertising and marketing this well-known event. We prepare for months, by adding old things to our now old-familiar consignment sale paper bags. These bags are hidden in closets and tucked away awaiting final examination. The items are then transferred to well-marked boxes and transported to the Event.
From the end of one sale, in the Spring, to the other sale, in the Winter, nearly every week is spent assessing the viability of too-small clothes, no longer used toys and ‘gently used’ accessories. I must confess that every stain that appears on my children’s clothing, every rip I find represents lost dollars and a futile attempt to make good on something now seemingly bad. I’ve spent countless hours spraying and respraying stain remover on grass, blood and crayon in the hope that I can recycle that one piece at the tag sale. Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn’t.
For us, the days leading up to the sale are a ritual, and one that takes on the tone of the High Holidays – this is when we get to assess; reassess; atone for past mistakes (i.e. items needlessly torn or broken during fun times, or during a fit of rage); and attempt to make better. We get to say goodbye to things no longer needed, items which came with memories, and items which have a story of their own. And of course, I, especially, feel the familiar sadness that comes with knowing that the clock can’t be turned back; that you, and your children can’t recapture time gone by. While they continue to race toward the finish line – “when I get older…………..,” I can’t wait until I get older……………..” — and seem to delight in adding their no longer needed items to the pile, I keep holding on to the past, reluctantly parting with all of this, knowing full well that the finish line never looks the same when you are standing at the starting gate.
The act of preparing for this Event takes on a life of its own: we separate the clothing from the toys; tag all items on the right side of each piece with the gold and silver safety pins we receive with our participant package; and list each corresponding item on the inventory sheet, being careful to disclose the type, size, wearer’s gender and, of course, the price. Nearly always, the price becomes a bone of contention between us – should we reduce it to nothing just to get rid of it, should we charge fair market value to recoup our original investment? Should we just get rid of things that are no longer useful by selling them, or should we donate them to much needier people? Ultimately, does any of this matter at all?
Once tagged, our items must be placed in boxes labeled with our name and participant number. This year, I sent in my prerequisite deposit money many, many weeks ago. I was sure I was the first to do so. I wanted the coveted #1 spot. I have been #3 and #5 during years when I raced to her house to give her our deposit. This year, I wanted the prize before the event. Our neighbor granted us our wish and secured our place firmly in (what I consider to be) the top spot. I was so excited that I bought #1 Award tags and affixed them to all our boxes. I made sure to show her that she made my day.
This time I had 68 items; actually 64 a few days ago, but the straggler pieces – things that I just stumbled on throughout the house — were added and added until finally we brought the boxes to her. Yesterday, I found something else to sell, but yesterday was too late. That item was placed in the new paper bag, awaiting the next sale this Winter.