Saturday, June 6, 2009


This is Vi. She's probably around eighty--"a spry eighty," guesses my dad. Vi lives in Texas in the winter and up here in Minnesota in the summer. She has a bountiful organic garden and sells vegetables and other relics and products out of her garage, hours: whenever.

Everything you see here is for sale, from glass bricks to flowering cactus. Swollen plastic jugs of honey: $7.50. Jars of beets she grew and pickled herself: $4.50. Old well-seasoned cast iron skillets: $5-10. Assorted glassware: 10 cents to a buck. Poplar logs: ask. Huge bottles of pure vanilla extract brought back from Mexico: $11. Radishes: she charged us 50 cents for a generous handful.

This is her garage refrigerator.

When I was growing up here, Dolores Nepsund (wildly creative cake baker, multi-grandma) had a perpetual garage sale out of her garage in town. In warm enough weather, she just left the garage door open, and you'd go in and sort through the heaps of donated clothes on the tables and racks and if she wandered in, you'd pay her, and if she didn't, you left the money in an honor system contraption. I wore a green wool duffel coat from that garage for seven years, from Ohio to Norway to New York, until it was threadbare at the hems and all the toggle-loops had broken.

Across the road from the lake, there is still an honor-system vintage shop set up in a little refurbished camping trailer parked in Iva Thielges' front yard. Inside, you find old picnic sets and paint-by-number horse portraits and dolls and embroidered dish towels etc., and a little hinged box where you write down what you bought and leave the money.

I prefer this kind of economy, run by old women and based on trust.

1 comment:

Amy said...

Aww, Vi! I just assumed she had closed up shop, as I thought she was in her late 70's when I was a kid . . . what a vibrant lady, though. Glad to see that her selection has grown more eclectic--why confine it to vegetables? Her produce is lovely, though not a stranger to Miracle Gro. The raspberries, I remember, were oversized, juicy and muscular.