Besides saving heaps of money, enjoying the thrill of the hunt, and exploring some beautiful homes, there’s another reason I love yard sales: the social aspect. I come from New York, where strangers speak to each other all the time. They chit-chat at the theatre box-office; they converse in the apartment building elevator: they form alliances in the dog run at the park. I have a girl friend who met her husband on the subway. She started talking to him when she noticed he was reading a novel she loved. New Yorkers have gotten a bum rap as being cold: they are actually the friendliest people in the world (unless you irritate them, in which case they will curse you AND your mother).
Moving to L. A. was a big culture shock for me. Besides the unspeakable horror of blueberry bagels, there’s the isolation of the car culture: I desperately missed the person-to-person contact of the Big Apple. The social activity of yard sales was a lifesaver.
I’ve met some fascinating characters, like the 94-year-old TV comedy writer who has a new joke every time we run into him – or the white-turbaned Sikh couple who deal in contemporary art. There was one sale run by two gay furniture designers who offered every buyer a glass of champagne. Try and get that at Bloomingdale’s!
I also appreciate getting personal information about an object before I purchase it. One day I spotted a beautiful vintage lace bridal veil which I considered buying for my son’s fiancée. The owner and I were having a fine old time comparing wedding notes until she said, “Yes, the event was fabulous. Too bad the marriage only lasted eight months!” I am usually not a superstitious person, but I decided not to buy the veil – just in case there really is such a thing as karma.