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I’ve been feeling unwell all week. My symptoms include alternating uncertainty and excitement, the hurling of clothing and accessories out of my closet and an irrational tallying of how much they might be worth on the open market. The garage sale market that is.

Ever since we held our first garage sale last weekend to rid ourselves of stuff we no longer need, I can’t help thinking about how much more we could sell if we just put our shingle out a few more times. The cash earned had burned a hole in our pockets just two hours after we shut down our operation. (Of course, we spent the money on things we actually need like a Bose docking station for our iPods and a Pottery Barn area rug for our new place in Ocean Beach). Now I want more cash.

I didn’t sell clothing at our garage sale, because, frankly, I’ve never been interested in buying other people’s old clothes. I don’t know if they use deodorant or bathe daily? What if they have a weird rash?

But after seeing people buy the most random things you can imagine — like the dog poop bag dispenser that wasn’t even for sale, but that I sold anyway in a fever of garage sale commerce — I’m realizing that I could have made a killing on some of my old clothes.

Garage saling can do this to you. It’s slow infection that grows as you start reading tips and hints for successful garage sales online — a store of information that is as intense as the people who seem to frequent garage sales.

I was told to start the sale early because the serious buyers shop early. And they did. A full 15 minutes before 7 a.m., our curb was packed with three large vans and a crowd of impatient people demanding to know whether we had T.Vs. or computers. We sold out of some of our largest items by 7:30.

The rest trickled in slowly, but they were serious and focused as they did. They offered a brief good morning but their eyes were already focused on an intent hunt through our items. It wasn’t immediately clear what they wanted, but they seemed to know. Furniture?

Absolutely. Books? Check. Linens in good condition?

Check. Small appliances? Not so much. Maybe they’re a collector hunting for a diamond in the rough, or a practical person who could really use a poop-bag dispenser. “Just what I’ve always needed,” I imagined that particular buyer saying to himself.

— CATHERINE HOCKMUTH

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