A Day in the Life: The Queens Stoop Sale
8:45 am: Start nagging Vin to wake up so he can help me drag tables and all our old crap down to the sidewalk. Today’s our Stoop Sale!
9:30 am: Attempt to artfully arrange old crap so it appears fresh and exciting to others.
9:50 am: While I’m inside, Vin makes first sale. Lord of the Flies goes to a hip dad pushing stroller and sipping coffee. Vin is ecstatic; does a little jig on front steps. Will likely frame first dollar.
10:00 am: Officially open for biz. Chilling in beach chairs on the sidewalk. Gaze lovingly at my dessert table. I’m having a bake sale. Like a 10-year-old.
10:10 am: Vin starts reading his old books again before they’re sold. He picks up Wisdom of the Dalai Lama.
“How many of those have they had anyway?” I ask.
“What? Dalai Lamas? I think this guy’s number 14,” he replies. “Hey, you think I could be the next Dalai Lama?
“Eh. Why not? You’re nice.” I say. Seems like one of the bigger requirements.
10: 15 am: A big-boned couple from Hungary embarks on the wares. Hungarian husband holds several sundresses up to his chest and asks: “These are your size?” I want to answer, “Well, they’re not yours,” but can’t gauge whether he’ll think it’s funny or rude. He buys one dress and starts low-balling me for a men’s leather jacket.
“Ten dollars for the coat.” I say.
“How about eight?” He tries.
“It’s brand-new, never worn. Ten.”
“I think nine. Who will lose?” he says while dangling a 20 dollar bill in my face.
I grab his 20, and hand him a 10. He loses.
10: 25 am: Woman my exact same size but 20 years my senior starts putting my skirts and dresses on over her clothes in the middle of the street. She buys a few things and departs. I take one of my shirts off the table and shove it in my purse. Seller’s remorse.
10: 35 am: Dude! People are completely dismissing my baked goods. This is disappointing. Who doesn’t love homemade cookies? Am surrounded by fools.
11:35 am: Our friend Bridget arrives to camp out for the day. She’s brought a few things to sell. One of them is a Wonder Woman mug. Still in the box. This just upped the ante. Expecting crowds to swarm.
11: 40 am: Crowds do not swarm. We continue baking in beach chairs propped up next to garbage cans while gazing at all our old crap. This.is.the.life.
Noon: Bubble tea break! We send Vin for my favorite jasmine bubble tea at the new spot Ice Breaker Milk Tea down the street. I went to the new store like three times their first week and got our picture on the wall. This means I’m famous. If you’re in Astoria, you need to go there–they’re worried that not enough people in the neighborhood know about the wonder that is bubble tea. Like I said, surrounded by fools.
12:30 pm: A big crowd appears. Everyone is asking me questions in Spanish. I suddenly realize that my enormous stack of books, all written in English, will still be mine at the end of the day. They are not going back in my apartment, I mutter to myself. I would rather box them up, drive them to La Guardia, and fly them to a storage facility in an affordable state before I allow that to happen.
12:45 pm: A man with limited English but strong affection for booze circles the tables for a good half hour. He seems to only be interested in items he can’t recognize and has no purpose for.
“This is for kitchen?” He is holding a rubber stamp.
“No, it’s for making designs on paper.” I reply.
“Open for me.” He instructs.
“It doesn’t open. You press it, like this.” Somehow, my tutorial is strong enough to make a sale.
He goes for the movie Magnolia, a two-box set on VHS. Readers under 22: feel free to leave this page to google VHS.
Go ahead. I’ll wait.
“What is this?” He is definitely not under 22. He should recognize VHS tapes.
“It’s a movie.” I say. I feel like I am explaining Earth to someone who has just arrived from another planet.
“Open for me.”
I slide the tapes out of the box. He is satisfied and buys the tapes. I imagine him later putting them in his icebox to make movie popsicles. He also buys a drinking glass, two uggo necklaces from Forever 21 and Bridget’s teeny tiny drinking mug from Germany that he deems the best thing in the history of ever. He shakes our hands and thanks us for all the stuff. He had a very good time at our stoop sale and is wondering if our store will be open next weekend.
1:16 pm: When he leaves, Bridget and I share a giggle over his hodge-podge shopping and Bridget points out the alcohol she smelled on his breath. “I wish we could be at his house tomorrow when he wakes up and is like, “Where’d all this crap come from?”
2:00 pm: A really cute gay couple flies right by us, with one of them yelling back, “Ugh, what are you doing selling Mean Girls?”
I yell down the street: “I’ve watched it like 400 times already. It’s just time.”
They circle back and scoop it up. “Augusten Burroughs! Oh my god, this is like my dream stoop sale!” the same guy says before leaving with the video. I wish they weren’t in such a rush. We’d love to have scones with them on the front porch. They’re like our dream stoop sale patrons.
3:00 pm: Our friend Diana arrives to keep us company. She’s brought her 4-year-old daughter Sophie, who’s like the greatest thing ever. She’s even cuter than that teeny-tiny drinking mug from Germany. And worth way more than 50 cents. She’s a natural redhead. A rarity. You can charge more for that.
Little Soph looks up at me and says, “Jenn, do you have any toys?”
“Nooooo. Sorry. But I have crafty stuff. Do you like crafty stuff?”
“Yesssss.” Geez this kid is cute. She picks out a little red heart made of wood and smiles like she just won the lottery. I wish I could get that excited about something so simple.
4:30 pm: The glass domes on my cake stands are beginning to fog up from the heat. No one is buying the gruyere and black pepper scones, and it’s a shame because they are unholy. I head over to the dessert table and wipe the moisture off the glass with a napkin. Then I eat my feelings. They are delicious.
5:00 pm: We sell a few more things, but crowds are beginning to thin. We’re shocked that no one has bought Bridget’s red pasta bowl or my vintage coat. I am starting to dread having to drag all this stuff back in the apartment.
5:30 pm: We decide to hang it up. Sorry folks. It’s quittin’ time. Shop’s closed for business. Gone fishing. We’re busy washing our hair.
6:00 pm: Money made? $170! I am ecstatic. Do a little jig on the front steps.
6:30 pm: Reflect on lessons learned:
1) Very few people want homemade food from a stranger…
2) Purses and costume jewelry will go fast if you price them low, and…
3) The only people to get genuinely excited about your old crap will be four years old or drunk.