Hi, I’m Sarah Winston. It’s Saturday morning in Ellington, Massachusetts, and I’m taking my friend Carol Carson to her first garage sale. I turn to her as I park. “No matter how excited you are about something you see, act like you don’t care. This is all about the fine art of negotiation. Find your inner poker player.”
Carol nods enthusiastically before jumping out of the car.
I follow her. “Take it down a notch.”
“Oh, right.” Carol tries to get her smile under control
I did a quick scan of the garage sale. It’s a mess. The only reason we stopped is because it advertised like-new designer clothing for kids. If it wasn’t for Carol, I’d hop back in my car and head to the next sale on my list. Clothes were heaped on a table and in bags on the ground. The couple of nice pieces of furniture were barely visible from the road. I shook my head. I could make this place shine given the chance. I spot something that looks like a bulletproof vest and go investigate. It turns out to be one of those puffy, down-filled vests.
Ten minutes later Carol squeals. “Sarah! Get over here. This platter matches your dishes!”
Yeesh, had she heard nothing I’d told her in the car? “Just a minute.” I yell as I continue to exam a vintage Christmas tablecloth. A small tear in a corner and large stain in the middle makes me put it back. I finally head over to Carol but stop when I spot a motion activated security system. I pick it up only to find it’s a smoke detector. I need to find a garage sale with security equipment. Carol still bounces with enthusiasm when I arrive at her side.
She shoves the platter at me. “Look it’s Dansk. Only five dollars. It would cost way more at Macy’s. Aren’t you excited?”
I glance at the woman running the garage sale and shrug. “I don’t need it.”
Carol looks like a little girl who just had her favorite doll snatched from her. I carry it over to the woman. “Would you take two for this?”
“Sure,” the woman said.
Back in the car I break into a big smile. “Great find. The platter would cost at least forty-five dollars at the store.”
Carol looks at me oddly. “Oh, right, poker face. I’ll do better next time.”
“Smiling and being friendly is fine. No bouncing. No squealing. It leaves no room for negotiating.”
After a long morning of poking around garage sales, I drop Carol off at her shop, Paint and Wine. I call it Paint and Whine because sometimes that’s what I do when I’m there. Lately I’d been around more often because of a list of woes: my recent divorce, my ex-husband who’s the police chief of our small town, no job, and not all that many marketable skills. My ex was in the military for twenty years and having a career when you moved every few years wasn’t easy. I loved all the duties and activities that went along with being a military wife, but it left big gaps in my resume.
Yesterday I told Carol about my biggest problem. Someone keeps calling me, firing a shot, and then hanging up.
You can read more about Sarah in Tagged For Death, the first book in the new “Sarah Winston Garage Sale” mystery series, published by Kensington.
GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 6 p.m. eastern on December 10 for the chance to win a copy of TAGGED FOR DEATH. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.
About the author
Sherry Harris started bargain hunting in second grade at her best friend’s yard sale. She honed her bartering skills as she moved around the country while her husband served in the Air Force. Sherry uses her love of garage sales, her life as a military spouse, and her time living in Massachusetts as inspiration for the Sarah Winston Garage Sale Mystery series. Tagged for Death is the first in the series. She lives with her husband and Westie, Lily, in Northern Virginia. Visit Sherry on her website.