Dallas residents may soon have to register with the city before holding a garage sale at home under a proposal being considered by officials.
Dallas city policy currently allows residents to hold two garage sales at their homes per year. Each sale can each be up to three days in a row.
But Mayor Pro Tem Elba Garcia said too many residents are abusing the system, causing traffic problems and disrupting neighborhoods with frequent sales.
Dr. Garcia said it's not uncommon to see people virtually running businesses by selling new merchandise from their homes or from empty lots.
Some offenders, she said, have been documented using department store-quality clothes racks to sell used apparel.
"It's resale, not a garage sale," Dr. Garcia said of the illegal home-based enterprises.
Both Dr. Garcia and employees of the city's Code Compliance office are analyzing proposals to change Dallas' garage sale ordinance to require residents to register with the city before each sale.
When Steve Segner goes to a garage sale, he doesn't pinch pennies. "Like that table over there. I paid $1,200 for it. But it's a Stickley so it was a real deal."
Steve owns and operates a quaint and cozy adobe-style hotel in Sedona with his wife, Connie. It's a small place, with only 12 rooms, but it's extremely well-appointed with top-notch furnishings and accessories. I could tell, however, these things - with their unique patina and historic character - couldn't be recent store purchases. There was clearly more adventure involved in acquiring these treasures.
My husband and I went to Sedona for a bit of hiking, relaxation and, yes, garage saling. I chose the El Portal Hotel, not knowing the owner was an avid garage saler.
I sauntered into the hotel lobby with its stone fireplace and interesting accessories just before dawn in search of my first cup of coffee when I spotted Steve reading the paper. I just had to know.
"Do you garage sale?"
"Oh, yes. Just about everything you see in this hotel comes from garage sales and flea markets," he told me enthusiastically. I knew it!
We shared stories of our favorite finds - mine is a 7-foot-tall iron candelabrum I got at a garage sale in Scottsdale for $10. Steve's favorite finds involve more money . . . a lot more. He knows quality when he sees it and isn't afraid to spend hundreds, sometimes thousands, on rare finds.
The native Californian has worked long hours in various ventures - including the newspaper and pet-food industries - but would always make time to go to garage sales. He bought so much, in fact, he had to buy a warehouse in which to store everything. "We collect and collect. And friends would come over to the house and say, 'You know, you have 14 lamps in your living room. So, we had our stuff everywhere."
Clay and Mae Cowgill were eager to earn some extra cash from their clutter. They were having a huge garage sale at their Gilbert home, selling a "collection of stuff from over the years."
Business was great on Friday. They unloaded more than half their items. Saturday was slower but it was still action-packed. Something the Cowgills could've done without.
It was early in the day when a Grinch stopped by. It happened during a busy time, when at least four cars with buyers had stopped at the same time.
"Folks were asking lots of questions and my wife was making change," Clay said. "We were swamped." That's when another woman asked Mae if she could break a $50 bill.
Clay piped in his opinion: "I told the woman it depended on how much she bought. And she turned around and grabbed something right beside her and said, 'How about this?' " The woman picked up a few craft items totaling $9. Clay gave her the change and she and her male companion left.
All seemed well until it came time to count the money. The Cowgills noticed that $50 bill didn't look quite right.
"The front side looked fine but the back looked kind of funny," Clay said. "So, we went over to the bank and they verified that it was a counterfeit . . . and a pretty good one."
Turns out the bill was slightly smaller than regular U.S. currency and an identifying watermark was missing. So, the criminals paid with a fake 50 and made away with $41 of Clay's real money.