The Rotary Club of Hanalei Bay is responsible for feeding my addiction.
It could be that they did it without knowing, but their “Greatest Garage Sale Ever” on Saturday was like a fix. You see, I love nothing better than roaming thrift stores looking for great deals on used stuff I probably do not need. But it doesn’t matter if I need another visor, more books, DVDs, exercise equipment or a backpack. What matters is if I got a great deal. What matters is that I only paid a few dollars for something.
Example: On display in my office are two sets of hands used as book holders — the green Hulk’s and the orange hands of The Thing. They’re very cool. There’s also a Chewbacca doll about 18-inches tall set high on a shelf. And a Tigger cookie jar. And a Magic 8 Ball. And a copy of the book, “Green Eggs and Ham.” And a Ringo Starr album, “Goodnight Vienna.” And the documentary, “Riding Giants,” starring Laird Hamilton.
Did I need any of these things? Absolutely not. Did they come at the bargain price? Yes. And for that reason, I own them.
I can’t pinpoint when buying used stuff became a compulsion, but I’m pretty sure it all started with my father. He introduced us at a young age that it was an American tradition to spend your Saturdays going to garage sales and yard sales buying whatever someone else was trying to get rid of. We drove around for hours, piling in and out of the car, rushing to inspect random stuff on tables and in boxes and stacked on shelves, swarming over it like it was as valuable as gold.
And never, ever pay the asking price. Always, my father said, offer less. He lived by this rule and he ingrained it into his kids. “They can only say no,” he always said. It is, to this day, why I cringe when buying anything new. If you need something, first check for it used. Only then, buy new. I’m still in counseling so I can learn to be OK with entering Kmart or Macy’s to buy new clothes. Imagine. New. Not worn by someone else. This thought nearly blows my mind.
I am not the only one in my family afflicted with this disease that used is better.
Whenever any of my siblings visits our brother in Ocean Shores, Wash., the first thing they do is go to every thrift store. My other brother in Seattle loves Goodwill. If anyone in our family goes to the town of Langley on Whidbey Island, the first place they head is the “Good Cheer Thrift Store.”
As for me, I’m a regular at Blooming Tails, the Kauai Humane Society thrift store across the street from our office. I often stop at Salvation Army on Rice Street just in case they have something I might want. And my wife and I can’t go the North Shore without stopping at the thrift store in Kilauea sponsored by Christ Memorial Episcopal Church because there might be something, like another CD, sunscreen or, God help me, a book about running, that I can’t live without. If I try to be strong and not buy something, it haunts me and I can’t sleep, remorse over what I didn’t buy. Yes, remorse of what I did not buy because now, someone else will get it.
But the Rotary Club of Hanalei Bay wasn’t aware of my addiction when they opened the doors Saturday to their Ninth Greatest Garage Sale Ever. It was nirvana for me. Used stuff as far as the eyes could see. Within minutes, I was carrying golf clubs, snorkeling gear, clothes, cups, weights — so much I had to pay and rush it out to my car so I could go back for more. Ah, it was lovely. And all the money I was spending was going to the club to support its many programs that benefit the community, so this was for a good cause, I told myself. So spend more.
Sadly, a co-worker who came with me to the sale had to go home. She had other things to do besides scouring over thousands of used items. So, reluctantly, I had to leave.
But, driving away, I took solace in knowing there would be a 10th Greatest Garage Sale Ever. And there would be more bargains and great finds.
Perhaps, I thought with a smile, the Greatest Garage Sale Find Ever.
Bill Buley is editor of The Garden Island. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.