This photo of Wyatt's formerly beloved toy toolbox, tool belt, hard hat, and cooktop basically represents his first five years. I hope I will forever remember him playing, for hours on end, construction worker, chef, and worker-in-the-cherrypicker-bucket. But it's now time for new adventures. First up: Fishing. After all, there is no more logical choice for a city kid, right?
We can thank Golden Gate Park for this inspiration. The first time Wyatt and I rounded the end of the par course at Golden Gate Park, he noticed the casting pools down the hill. Once I had explained what the pools were and what the two people were doing with "those sticks and strings," Wyatt exclaimed, "I REALLY want to get a fishing rod. When can we do that!?" I told him I would look into fishing rods, and then I forgot to do any looking whatsoever, even after he reminded me.
Meanwhile, Marc and I had been asking Wyatt for months to identify the toys he didn't use anymore so that we could consign them or give them away. He kept telling us he would think about it, but he never got around to identifying any toys, and we pretty much stopped asking.
Our mutual procrastination evaporated last week when Wyatt said, "Mom. I REALLY want to get a fishing rod so we can go practice casting soon. I think I'm ready to get rid of all of these toys. Should we take them to Chloe's Closet to have them sell them and then we can order me a fishing rod?"
In a split second, I swallowed my surprise and calculated that we might, if we were very lucky, get $10 from a consignment of all the toys. I also knew we wouldn't see any money for at least six weeks. And how would I explain "consignment?" "Weeelll," I said, "I'm not sure Chloe's is the way to go for this. Do you want to have a pop-up toy shop this weekend and see if you can sell these yourself?"
"YES!" he beamed. "I'm going to go see what else I can find!"
I have no experience with garage sales, and neither does Marc (who was out of town for work when we hatched the plan and fortunately said "YES!" to the plan, even though I didn't check with him first, like a thoughtful partner should). But the pop-up toy shop was worth a try. I figured the worst case would be that we'd sell nothing and head to Chloe's.
Wyatt gathered toys and one book. On Saturday, we laid everything out and organized items into price groups: $1, $5 and $10. Marc and Wyatt put price stickers on everything. I made some signs, and Wyatt and Marc stapled them to telephone poles around the neighborhood. I wrote posts about our sale on our neighborhood online groups. I also got some coffee, stirrers, half-and half, and the ingredients for watermelon agua fresca because why not sell drinks? Fortunately, I also remembered to get some change in case everyone showed up with a $20.
Sunday morning, we were open by 9:00 am, as advertised, and we had brisk business for the first fifteen minutes. Then, much to Wyatt's dismay, the long lulls began. He had no idea that keeping shop could mean a lot of waiting around. We were supposed to close at 11:00 am, but when that time came, Wyatt flatly refused to go inside. So Marc went around with a sharpie and changed the end time on all the signs to 12:00 pm. But we stayed out even longer than noon. We ate lunch outside, and with every passing hour, until almost 3:00 pm, we sold more items.
As the hours passed, Wyatt made improvements to the shop. He wanted to do some advertising himself, so I made him a sign to hold. And once many of the toys were gone, he concluded the table needed to be more beautiful, so he covered it with play silks.
We sold toys and drinks to our nearest neighbors (some of whom we had never met), as well as to people from further away who had seen our advertisements. We got to visit with dogs while their families shopped. And we heard from our favorite neighbors about how in the 1970s and 1980s, the whole street would pool together and have garage sales on the corner, or in each others' garages. We heard about how the best garage sales used to be out in The Avenues. One neighbor suggested we turn our table 90 degrees so people down the road could see what we were selling. I remarked that we hadn't done that because we wanted to be sure that pedestrians could easily pass by. His eyes twinkled as he said, "People always find a way by. And, you know people who sell stuff on the sidewalk are no good anyway, right?"
In total, we sold $55 worth of drinks and toys. Our favorite neighbors also donated $5 to the fishing pole fund after Wyatt helped with some gardening during one of the long lulls in the shop. We were left with only six toys, and Wyatt seemed to have no pangs of regret as he demonstrated the most wonderful aspects of each toy before selling it.
At the end of the day, as Wyatt and I quietly watched a beaming brother and sister carry his hard hat and tool box back to their house, I took a deep breath. And for once, instead of wishing I could freeze time, I thought: Bass Pro Shop, here we come.
Watermelon Agua Fresca
I do not pretend to be an expert on agua fresca, but we love this drink. I combined a few of the recipes I found online and arrived at this refreshing combination. I hope you like it, too!
- One small seedless watermelon (mine had about 8 cups of melon in it)
- 12 mint leaves
- 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
- 2 cups cold water
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup, honey or sugar (or more or less to taste)
Scoop out the flesh of the watermelon. Put all the ingredients in a blender (in batches, if necessary) and blend until very smooth. Drink up!