The People at My Last Garage Sale

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My last garage sale was 25 years ago when I still lived in Overland Park. The year was 1993 and I held the sale because I had left-over office furniture from my last not-for-profit job. I sold it all—at give-away prices—in two hours, shut my door and called it quits.

My other last sale—also in Overland Park—was a moving sale. Held in 2000, we sold a lot of stuff I can’t recall, which means I didn’t miss any of it. We were moving to Louisburg. Well, technically seven miles south of Louisburg to an acreage on this gravel road in the middle of Miami County Kansas. Or the middle of nowhere. Your choice.

Since that sale, I’ve held three sales—I hesitate to call them garage sales—in Louisburg. They all go about the same way, and it’s all about the people who show up.

A few guys in trucks come out to see what Jim’s got on offer. He usually does pretty well, although the older guys already have what Jim has, and they’d like to get rid of theirs too.

Retired couples stop to take a look at our stuff. They mostly talk about their stuff, and what they should do to empty their basements/closets/storage sheds.

Old high school buddies of Jim (and sometimes wives), drive out because they know the door is open. They’re here to catch up.

The middle-aged crowd. Someone might buy a collectible or a piece of jewelry. That’s what happened this time. That single sale ALMOST makes all the preparation worthwhile.

Young people flying by and seeing the sign might stop. But they are not interested in vintage anything, including conversation with vintage me.

And that’s about it. Six or seven people a day. Two days to go …

Did I say this was my last garage sale?

Don’t Call, Don’t Write

Ever wish you’d paid attention to something sooner?

That’s me. I go along and along and then one day, something in my brain clicks and I’ve had it. And I’m saying a great big—whoa, no.

That’s what happened today when I got a ‘personal and confidential, reply immediately’ letter in the mail. Sounds important. Right? But it wasn’t.

Turns out, it’s from a company offering to sell us unspecified warranty protection for one of our vehicles because it just happens to be out of the manufacturer’s warranty. We’re not sure WHICH one they’re writing about, because both cars and the truck are WAY out of manufacturer’s warranty.

I recognized the company’s name only because a month or so ago, I got tired of the daily marketing calls. Mid-morning, call about the warranty on Jim’s phone. Dinnertime, call about the warranty on my phone.

Now, Jim likes to have a little fun. “Oh no,” he says, “we sold that car ages ago.” Or, “Who are you calling? No one by that name lives here.” All the expected things one says to get a marketer to give up. But do the calls stop? They do not, and I finally reported the company to the Do Not Call List.

But I did more. I got an app from AT&T, called Call Protect, that labels and lets you block telemarketers, along with the handy feature of totally blocking potential fraud calls.

Yay. No more calls. But today. A snail mail letter.

Basically, the letter states that I haven’t yet called to activate my protection warranty and that means I’m responsible to pay for the repairs on my car. Okay, I’ll agree to be responsible. Don’t call anymore. Don’t write.

I wrote them back, letting them know that they used to call almost daily until I complained. I didn’t bother telling them about my nifty new app because they didn’t need to know. And then I wrote: “Figure it out, boys and girls. I haven’t contacted you to activate your services because I don’t want them. Stop bothering me.”

I wanted to call this something cute. Stalker marketing. Or stalkerting.  But believe it or not, there’s an organization out there using the two words ‘stalker’ and ‘marketing’ as part of their company’s name. I guess there’s something to be proud about in wearing down potential consumers until they buy your product or service.

Go figure.

Do I think they’ll stop? Not a chance. But be warned. I’ve officially had enough, and now have a file with their name on it.