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Yard Sales Boom In Recessionary Times

Black Voice News, News Report, Chris Levister Posted: Jun 09, 2009

Sherrie Joyner is scouting for gold in the hot Memorial Day sun amid boxes of Dolce & Gabbana shoes and bags, designer jewelry, DVDs, artwork and forests of skirts and shirts dangling from plastic hangers on suspended rope. This piece is a steal, Joyner said excitedly, grabbing Thomas Blackshears Ebony Visions Limited Edition Nurturer. Sad to say, Im finding really good deals. Because people are losing their homes, said the Redlands tenth grade teacher.

Joyners observations offer a glimpse of Americans decades-long march to excess. And now with the recession, yard sales offer a peek at what people are doing to rein that in. Welcome to Riversides exburbs off Mockingbird Canyon Road near Lake Mathews where blocks of holiday yard sales take you into the private domains of young, up and coming Black and Latino families who were making money, buying big homes and designer everything. The housing boom unleashed a voracious appetite for bigger homes and more stuff to fill them. Then the bottom fell out. Riversides once red hot housing construction industry dove into unchartered waters, people lost their jobs, homes, families and in some cases their dreams.

Walt Brown a retired police officer and professed yard sale junkie from Corona, picked up an antique motor-cycle, African artifacts, a rare collection of gospel albums, tapes and books including an annotated Bible published in the 1800s owned by the homeowners great grandfather, a minister. In normal times you see childrens toys, clothing and the usual junk people dont want, said Brown. This is different. People are getting rid of family jewels, things they cant afford to hang on to.

The canyon yard sales drew a steady stream of bargain hunters like musicians Carlos and Anne Espinoza looking for instruments and rare sheet music.

Whats so shocking is that a lot of these people are still in denial, said Carlos. He recalls seeing his former neighbors who lost their home to foreclosure in 2007.

They were buying as if there was no tomorrow. On one hand theres this air of desperation and loss, on the other hand some folks are still trying to hang on to a lifestyle that says I am what I own.

A few blocks away, a garage sale is more of a fire sale for big ticket items at heartbreaking prices.

The homeowner Sandra would not give her last name because she did not want it in the newspaper. Fighting back tears she and a half dozen friends and family members tried to unload four ornate Italian lamps, antique rugs, artwork by renowned Riverside artist Charles Bibbs, wine racks, monogrammed linens, several high end appliances, a pricy designer bedroom set, granite counter tops, a nearly new barbecue grill, barely touched pool table and accessories intended for a pool she designed but never built.

Sifting through the neat piles of excess Sandra picks up a stack of memorabilia from the inauguration of Americas first Black president.

I wanted that magical moment to last forever. So anything Barack and Michelle Obama I could put my hands on I bought it. It breaks my heart to let these things go, but now its time for someone else to enjoy them.

While many in this community of upscale homes blame the recession and the housing construction bust for the rise in hardship yard sales -- Sandra, whose divorce became final in March, says shes downsizing to escape financial and materialism pressures. We bought to keep up with the Jones. Growing up in Mississippi I was poor but didnt know it. We were happy. My parents were married 53 years. They raised eight kids on a small farm. My ex and I finished college, landed high paying jobs, bought a big house and filled it with expensive stuff. Our marriage lasted 3 years.

For all the bad news this recession is spinning, said Sandra, there is an upside: Wealth and peace in this life dwells not from outward things, but within the soul.

Related Articles:

Recession Continues to Curb Blacks' Dream of Home Ownership

More California Homeowners Walking Away

The Silver Lining Behind Californias Gloomy Economy

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