The weather here in North Carolina seems to be stabilizing and one can tell that not only Spring has arrived, but Summer is shortly behind. As a result on the weekends, the roadsides are becoming proliferated with ‘Garage Sale signs.” For those who may not be familiar, garage sales are basically when an individual or family decides to hold their own sale. Many individuals will spend a week or more in advance preparing for such a sale by cleaning out their closets, drawers and cupboards and choosing to get rid of the items no longer needed or desired. Instead of giving or throwing away these items, they will be marked (priced) and set up on display in a garage sale. The garage sale may either be held in one’s yard or in one’s garage. Tables will likely be set up with the items which are on sale are displayed. Some items may be in boxes and others may stand alone or clothes may be hanging from a portable rack. I’ve always enjoyed garage sales and especially so as I am an avid reader. I read too much and too fast to keep buying books from the bookstores which can become expensive. Whereas at garage sales I can typically get paperback or hardback books for as little as twenty-five cents (or less)!
Garage sales are not seen too often in Saudi Arabia except on some of the compounds or at times some of the international schools will have sales. I believe that the segregation and the desire of privacy make garage sales less than popular in Saudi Arabia. Additionally, it is out of context with the culture and customs for a Saudi family to openly sell items from their home where anyone is allowed to come by during specified times. The closest I’ve really encountered to what could be classified as a “Saudi style” garage sale would be the Second hand souk, Haraj bin Gassem (Princess Souk) where one can find thousands of second hand (used) items for sale.
When we were living in the States, Abdullah and I held a garage sale prior to our departure to Saudi Arabia. Before we had our own garage sale, I introduced Abdullah to the American garage sales. It was pretty easy to do, we only had to take walks in our neighborhood on Saturday mornings and there would be multiple garage sales for us to visit and browse. Abdullah remarked not only on the quality of items being sold and the cheap prices asked, but also how friendly the people were. He was surprised to find that individuals who were in very good positions would hold a garage sale. And yes, he found himself enjoying going to different garage sales and he managed to find multiple items he chose to purchase. Like me, he was also an avid reader and between the two of us, we’d end up buying boxes of books! We also found items we liked for our home too.
By the time we were preparing for our departure to Saudi Arabia, we found we had quite a collection of stuff that we did not wish to take with us. We organized our garage sale two weeks in advance. Due to the number of items we had (we overflowed out of our two car garage into the yard) we chose to have an ad placed in our local newspaper. The ad stated we were moving out of the country and had much to sell. We were deluged with “customers.” Although our “sale” was not to start until 0800 hours, we had individuals knocking on our door at 0700 hours!
Abdullah enjoyed our sale. He interacted and chatted with everybody who came. For those who bought a lot of stuff, he helped carry and load the items in cars. One woman bought an adult swing we had for sale. He disassembled the swing and followed her to her home where he in turn reassembled it! He insisted that it was not proper for a woman to do such work.
Abdullah liked how neighborly and friendly the people were. He was surprised by some of the stuff that he considered ‘our old junk’ that other people viewed it as exciting and new treasure. And being the kind, gentle and generous man that he was, he encouraged each person to pick out another item that was in our sale, as their gift for coming.
So now it is garage sale season in North Carolina. I plan to start going to some to try and find new reading material. However it will not be quite the same without having Abdullah at my side and our hands interlocked together. May he rest in peace.
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