shopping / or not

Garage sale-ing on the one-in-two-out paradigm

Being fifty-something, I’m no longer pushing fifty.

I’m pulling it behind me: five decades of experience, memories … and clutter.

The experience and memories are here to stay, but the clutter is weighing me down. Clutter builds a giant barrier between you and life’s choices – travelling, relocating, downsizing … even upsizing.

Garage Sale Sign photo by Susy Morris

We started a declutter program about two years ago, clearing out the “stuff” one collects over the years.

Finally, we can get three vehicles into our triple garage (we’d been squeezing one in for several years). We even painted the concrete floor in a lovely terra cotta colour – given that we can now see it.

We can accommodate guests in the guest room and our storage cupboards no longer bulge menacingly.

What got us started? I read a couple of declutter books (then promptly sold them on eBay in what I considered the ultimate act of decluttering). They were inspiration enough to get things underway.

We still have a way to go, but that journey will be forwards not backwards.

To keep it that way, we have “house” rules: if you bring a new item in, you must remove two items to make room (and more) for it.

That concept – the one-in-two-out paradigm – has curtailed my garage sale pursuits over the last couple of years.

In days gone by when I ran a stall at the big local antiques market, I could garage sale to my  heart’s content … and I did. Every Saturday, I’d bring home a full ute load, ready for tidying up, sorting and ticketing. I loved it.

But when you’ve got no on-sell program and a strict one-in-two-out paradigm, it makes you very, very choosy.

So I basically self-precluded from garage sales.

That is, until an advert caught my eye promising a stash of upholstering goodies derived from a closed-down upholstery business. If you’ve seen my Bucket List, you’ll know I have big plans to do an upholstery course and this was very inviting.

So, out I headed. Unfortunately, the hundreds (nay thousands) of fabric rolls were outdated and overpriced. I suspected the tools and other fiddly bits were, too, especially when I have no idea what I might need when I do embark on that next craft adventure. I left it all sitting there (like any good second-hand dealer, I recorded the address details “just in case”).


I was out anyway, so I thought I might as well check out another couple of garage sales. (Well, they were on the route home.)

I found shiploads of stuff, great stuff, bargains, on-sellable treasures … but being a paragon of restraint I only brought these home (and I didn’t even need the ute):

carved wooden panel

A vintage carved wooden panel, possibly from a door or a dresser. A bargain at $3.

bill kirtley potteryThis fabulous piece of Australian pottery for 50c (yes, 50c!) It’s by local potter Bill Kirtley. Is it just me, or do Aussie potters do green glaze better than anyone else in the world?


Then there were these magazines, including Prima (which my mother-in-law will devour once I’ve flipped through them) and a couple of US mag’s that we don’t see here often (even a Martha Stewart Living). These cost between 30 and 50c each.

Yes, I can report that I have goodwilled four items to cover the wood panel and the pottery piece. Two-in-four-out. The magazines, I will pass on to others as soon as I’ve read through them.

That garage sale experience did much less damage than I suspected it might, except … please, someone drag me off to a Garage Sale Addicts Anonymous meeting before I slip back into old habits.

I’m just a tad tempted by this extravaganza: The Garage Sale Trail. That would be one helluva way to fall off the wagon.

I am Sheryl and I am a garage sale-er (or is it sale-ee?)

Photo credit: Garage Sale Sign photo by Susy Morris

2 thoughts on “Garage sale-ing on the one-in-two-out paradigm

  1. Great article. I have downsized several times in the last 10 years…getting rid of more and more stuff with each move. I now live in a small patio home…and it’s filled just right with things that I loved enough to keep. It makes it so difficult with I find things that I ‘want’ because…I just don’t have a place for them without getting rid of something else. Only rarely does something new sneak in…but that also takes away the joy of shopping!

    1. Thanks, Jane. Yes, it’s all about finding a balance between having a decluttered environment and loving the thrill of the hunt. I guess the solution is a slow “churn” of stuff to allow for occasional shopping break-outs. Oh, the fun of it! S.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s