Why I’m a Garage Sale Geek

Walking down Dahill Ave in Brooklyn yesterday I came across a Garage Sale (or yard/tag/stoop sale, depending on your locale). Now most garage sales, especially in my neighborhood, aren’t really much to cheer about – my best Kensington find is a framed Coffy poster, which is hanging in my room right now. Every once in a while though you come across a goldmine, the kind where just a glance has you sprinting towards the nearest ATM.

A little background:

I come from a family of hunters, hagglers, and hoarders. My brother is the best/worst. He has a sixth sense for finding amazing deals and rare finds. So much so that he often owns more stuff than he has space for. Take one look at my bedroom and you’ll see what I have in common with my bro. I’m learning to read the subtle signs of the garage sale/thrift store/antique store that I pass by: to know in a glance whether it is worth a peak inside, a walk-through, or an afternoon; to know from the proprietor’s demeanor whether they would inch down a price or hold firm; to know if the seller of the items is the original owner or a third party – a hint: a third party is best, a lack of emotional connection to the goods and often ignorance to their worth. Still, I’m a novice compared to my brother but I’m getting better. Every time I’m home we go out and he delivers a few nuggets of wisdom.

Well, back to the Brooklyn garage sale. Walking down the street I noticed the sale and saw a good sign from afar: three uniform boxes underneath a table. This means a few things: either books, VHSs, records, tapes, or CDs are in those boxes (it’s never DVDs) and whomever owns them cares enough to keep them in similar boxes and out of the sunlight. Lucky for me they were chock-full of VHSs!

“What? Who cares about VHS? It’s a digital world now!”

That’s enough Voices In My Head! VHS rocks. Here’s why:

1. Some movies are still scarce on DVD (I’m looking at you The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover and, until very recently, Salo: The 120 Days of Sodom). Old movies in particular can be hard to find, it beats waiting years for the eventual Criterion release.

2. You can view movies pre their obligatory 90s digital remastering. You get to see them as people saw them when they came out. Yes, I know Barry Lyndon looks like liquid Jesus on DVD, but Kubrick didn’t make it to look like that. You can also find the un-fucked-with versions of movies such as Star Wars and E.T., where Jabba is not made of corny late-90s CGI and that FBI dude is still holding the gun.

3. Holy fuck they are cheap.

Case in point:

As I hunched over the boxes at the sale the man who was running it (who was not the owner, score) brought out three more boxes of tapes. Now, this was one of those collections… I could have bought 40 movies I really liked, but I kept it lean.

I left with:





Taxi Driver

Teen Wolf

A Fistful of Dollars


Dirty Harry

The Deer Hunter

The Exorcist

Weird Science


Dances with Wolves

and an original Hey Mickey 12 inch single in English AND Spanish

for 13 bucks.

He quoted me a buck each, but he and I both knew he would throw in a couple extra if I bought a bunch. I could have bought more but, as I said before, I’m not exactly luxuriating on space here.

I am somewhat embarrassed to say, but I have never seen Dirty Harry, A Fistful of Dollars, The Exorcist, and (until last night) Alien.

Yeah, yeah, I know. I’m sure there are a few of you out there who just gasped “The Exorcist??”.

I know, I’m terrible. But I’m on the right track! Viva la VHS!

1 Comment

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One response to “Why I’m a Garage Sale Geek

  1. Kate

    did you Teen Wolf the bus on the way home to celebrate your newly acquired Teen Wolf?

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