A recent study titled “The Things We Sell,” presented by Graduate design researchers from the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, took a look at the unique American tradition of garage sales, and the “cultural transactions” that drive this $1 billion industry.
Here’s a summary of what they found:
According to Dan Wandrey and Chris Meierling, Graduate Design Researchers, “one reason why the cultural practice of garage sales continues to grow is because it is an unregulated economy that generates somewhere between $600 million to $1 billion per year.”
On the emotion level, the two researchers concluded that the practice of garage sales can be interpreted as “a process in which stories become cultural transactions. The exchange of the objects is not nearly as important as the bridge that is formed by explaining the story behind it.”
“This project is the direct result of a conversation I had with my mother,” Wandrey said. “Her parents had decided to move into an assisted living community, away from the home where my mom had grown up, and they needed to shed 50 years of accumulated stuff. An estate sale was held and my Mom had watched as objects that carried a life’s worth of memories were being liquidated. To her, the items were invaluable and irreplaceable, and the experience was traumatic.”
Meierling says “While a Google search reveals plenty of ‘how-to’s’ about running garage sales, there are hardly any accounts, even anecdotally, about being a garage sale shopper or about how this unique American tradition emerged over the past 90 years.”
The two researches summed up their findings best by saying “On the shopper’s end, one can expect the entrepreneurs to be scouting out offerings early in the mornings and stragglers and tag-alongs to come later on in the day,” Meierling said. “On the seller’s end, you see a range of individuals from those who are most interested in the social aspect of garage sales to those who are essentially running a small retail business out of their house.”
Article Source: http://asunews.asu.edu/20100304_Things_We_Sell