Treasure hunting for pure junk at the Curbside Swap: A short story and photo essay

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The saying goes “one man’s discarded and dirty junk is another man’s newly found burden.” No wait, I think it’s “one man’s junk is another man’s discarded and dirty treasure.” No wait, I suck at these.

As a child my family would load up into the old Ford truck and drive out to this giant garage just outside of the city called “The Consignment Sale.” The Consignment Sale was filled with years of discarded and unwanted items waiting around to be turned into treasures. Instead of hosting your own garage sale or putting your treasures onto the curb free for the taking, you could take them to the consignment sale where they would collect years of dust before being picked up by the hands of a true bargain hunter.

You kissed a lot of frogs going here. It was indeed pure junk.

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Each person was given a number and at every visit you could check your number to see if any of your items had been sold. The lady that owned the place had a physique of a punching clown and had these ancient cat-eye style glasses that she wore around her neck by a jeweled string. Whenever you asked her for your total sales she would let out a horrendous sigh, put her glasses back on the bridge of her nose and open up a old dusty balance book filled with chicken scratch. I think she was sighing at her own disorganization.

There was a free box out at The Consignment Sale. It sat just outside the front door and looked like it was never brought in during the evenings or during the rain. Overflowing with unrecognizable skeletons and silhouettes of household items, not a single thing in that free box was worth taking home.

It was the first thing I would check as soon as we arrived. I would dig through it, inspecting it and taking inventory to see if any of the previous treasures had been removed. Very rarely it happened, and I always found it amazing the items that would be gone. I guess I found it interesting the things that people find worthy when the price tag is free.

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– All photos and story by Victoria Allbright.