ROSE NOLEN: Prowling rummage sales difficult to give up

Tuesday, April 26, 2011 | 5:42 p.m. CDT; updated 9:53 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, April 26, 2011

It's been an uphill fight, but I've managed to win it so far.

Of course, fighting with your addictions is never easy. And let's face it: I've been hooked on rummage sales since I was a kid.

It started in Kansas City, where the neighborhood I lived in was surrounded by secondhand stores. So one of my favorite Saturday pleasures was prowling through piles of junk looking for treasures and going to auctions. Treasure seeking is still one of my special joys. And passing by rummage sale signs without stopping to have a look-see is extremely hard for me to do.

In the beginning I kidded myself into believing that I was a collector only searching for certain things. And it is true that for a long time I did specialize in kitchen tools. However, I have to admit that it wasn't long before my collections began to include virtually anything that I liked. As it turned out, I accidentally managed to acquire a large collection of jewelry.

On my way to becoming a certified junk owner I began to establish flea markets that entitled me to collect even more treasures. After engaging in that business for several years, I finally retired from the endeavor last fall.

Unfortunately, it never occurred to me that I would one day be moving into a small apartment, which brings my story up to date. It has taken me a few months to sort through my treasures to determine what to throw away and what to keep. After narrowing it all down to what would fit in my new "digs," I still had to rent a storage shed to hold all the "undecided" stuff. Overwhelmed by what I considered at some time in my life items that I didn't feel I could live without, I finally had to come to grips with the fact that there was simply no more room for one more thing anywhere in my life. Following that decision, I have ceremoniously avoided rummage sales, auctions and all other opportunities to increase my holdings.

Unfortunately, this has not been a painless process. For years I've been getting up early on Saturday mornings in the spring and summer geared up for the hunt. I have a circle of friends who join me for the adventure. Waking up with the knowledge that they are out there without me makes me unhappy. Furthermore, rummage sellers are a special breed. We are buyers as well as sellers. We look forward to our annual visits the same way as Super Bowl fans look forward to their annual game. In other words, it's not just a matter of buying and selling; it's also a social event. It's a chance to catch up on what's happening in other neighborhoods. I have several lifelong friendships among people I've met rummaging.

Of course we could claim credit for being champion recyclers, but the truth is we simply like what we do. It's unimaginable that most of us would go to all the trouble it takes to pull out, sort and price the hundreds of items it takes to make a good sale unless we enjoyed it. In our community we are only allowed to have two sales a year, so we try to make the most of them.

In spite of all the challenges I've encountered in my move, I have to say I don't really regret my treasure-hunting days. Along with the many marvelous people I have met, I have also heard some fabulous stories and some interesting family tales. Above all, it has made for many fun-filled Saturdays. And I can truthfully say I haven't found any other adventure that has provided me with that much pleasure.

So, I'm proud of myself for resisting the temptation to stop and shop. And I've managed to save a lot on gas, too. If I still didn't feel a tinge of regret every time I pass a sale sign, I'd believe I was cured.

And by the way, remember all that "undecided" stuff I had to store in a storage shed? Well, my little apartment is already full, and I don't have anymore room. So I guess in order to get rid of all those treasures I'll have to have a rummage sale.

Imagine that.

You can join the conversation with Rose M. Nolen by calling her at 882-5734 or e-mailing her at

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