Open Mic

Yard Sale Bait

By C. D. Payne

AFTER THE BRIEF but manic fondue rage of the early 1970s, surplus fondue sets became a common sight at countless garage sales. Here’s my take on current popular consumer items likely to suffer a similar fate:

“Miracle” ab machines. Your internal parent craves abs of steel, but your inner child prefers to snack while watching TV. This dynamic works to keep yard sales well stocked with lightly used fitness equipment. Lucky shoppers can still score the occasional harvest gold Exercycle from when our parents’ generation was trying to pedal off the flab.

George Foreman grills. Like all oddball-function kitchen appliances, these grills will follow the pioneering waffle iron first to the back of the cupboard, then to the garage, and on to the yard sale. There to compete with discarded hot-dog cookers, burger warmers, sandwich pressers, salad shooters, etc. (Be honest, when’s the last time you shot a carrot at your salad?) A similar fate awaits those heavily promoted rotisserie ovens. Be thankful these devices are just passing through America’s kitchens. Imagine the shock to our overstressed electrical grid if they were all still sizzling those succulent low-fat kabobs.

Palm Pilots and their ilk. Yes, these gadgets are cool, but how many of us need to carry around a machine in order to remember our semi-annual dentist appointment? After the novelty wears off (and the batteries die), into the sock drawer they’ll go. A few years hence they’ll bloom like dandelions at 10 million garage sales.

Mini-wheeled aluminum scooters. In the 19th century, gizmo-minded guys rode around on bone-shaking contraptions equipped with solid-rubber wheels. Then John Boyd Dunlop perfected the pneumatic tire, and the bicycle brought efficient transportation to the masses. Now, unaccountably, we have regressed back to the hard-wheeled era. Junior may be clamoring for a scooter, but these machines have “hula hoop” written all over them. It’s scary to contemplate the immense factories in Asia that must be running triple shifts to churn out this future garage-sale staple. Our only hope may be to recycle them into walkers for aging baby boomers.

Yes, these now-hot items are destined for yard sales and thrift shops. But even heavily marked down, will they find any buyers? Well, here’s a clue: When’s the last time you invited the gang over for an evening of cheese fondue?

C. D. Payne’s novels are featured at

From the December 28, 2000-January 3, 2001 issue of the Northern California Bohemian.

© Metro Publishing Inc.

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