City-Wide Garage Sales Are Awesome and Evil, All At Once.
First of all, one should always approach anything with the words "city-wide" and "garage sale" and ESPECIALLY "early bird" with extreme trepidation. Hardcore garage-sale people are vicious, armed with carts and buckets, and, most importantly, old, or cranky, or both.
I'd heard about the sale, and I drive by the building they hold it in everyday on my way to work. It's huge, and I figured since they held the "early bird" sale on Friday, everyone would be at work, and it wouldn't be too crowded.
Parking was atrocious. You either had to risk parking at the two Mexican restaurants nearby and buy a burrito to placate everyone and then SNEAK to the sale, or you had to park ACROSS THE DRAINAGE DITCH and two lanes of traffic, and hike to the sale, or, you could park in the "Super Mercado" parking lot (I am not kidding), and take the SHUTTLE, which was basically a 15-passenger van driven by a person who, I will say, was probably a little past his driving prime.
ANYWAY, when we were dropped off at the sale (I chose the Super Mercado option), we were dropped off by the door. The LINE to get in stretched nearly two city blocks (Texas-sized city blocks, of course) and disappeared AROUND THE CORNER. Luckily, you didn't have to stand in line, per se, you just had to make sure that before you went in, you had to have the police or a Meals on Wheels (that's the organization the sale was benefitting) representative take your three dollar cover charge and strap a blue bracelet on you. You know why? Because, believe it or not, people steal. PEOPLE STEAL THINGS FROM A GARAGE SALE. A GARAGE SALE THAT DONATES ITS PROFITS TO FEEDING THE ELDERLY. Really. An older Asian lady standing in front of me asked the poor "bracelet/cover charge" man WHY she had to pay THREE DOLLARS to get in. I was like, just give him the damn money already, so I can see what's in there.
There was a lot in there. Luckily, I found the crafty/sewing/old doll heads section right off the bat, and was introduced to the notion that many people do not come to garage sales to "browse" or "mosey". They come to swipe everything off the tables like those kids in the old Toys R Us shopping sprees they used to give away on Nickelodeon (most of you 30-somethings should know what I'm talking about). Those always confused me, because the kids would go and swipe like FIFTY Rainbow Brite dolls off the shelf and run around like crazy people, and I would be sitting in the living room thinking, "What the frack is she going to do with fifty Rainbow Brite dolls?!?!"....but I digress.
Luckily, I made it to the craft section relatively early and only had to use tactical maneuvers a couple of times, one of which was to grab an easel. The day before the sale, I was walking around Hobby Lobby, debating whether or not I should pay 100 dollars for an easel, and here I was staring right at TWO OF THEM for TWO DOLLARS EACH. Some lady was eyeing one, and since she did not possess the skill or tenacity to grab it, I took it as soon as she got distracted by some awful comforter set (Ew).
I carried those two easels for the better part of two hours through hoards of crabby people. I also got some cool vintage craft stuff, but the easels made the entire day worth it. When I got home, my hands were dirtier than they have ever been. Ever. I had to clean them with rubbing alcohol.
But look at them. Beautiful, no?