My garage sale, an unlikely sign.

I was planning to host a little garage sale on Saturday.

Garage sales are the perfect two-birds-one-stone equation. Old junk goes; money comes. Perfect.

I cannot get past the beauty of the one-person’s-trash-is-another’s-treasure idea. The thought that someone would want my old, full-of-character, dark green chair is just delightful.

And in a perfect world the sale of my junk also lines my pockets. This bit, in particular, fills me with child-like excitement. Like the first time you’re paid to wash the family wagon after having to do it for free all your life. It’s heady stuff.

Then Shorn Lowry walks in and tells me that you need a permit for garage sales. I thought he was joking, like the time he told me I wasn’t allowed to dump the old couch in the park across the road, but no, he insists there are tight rules on yard sales in Brisbane.

As it happens, he’s not pulling my leg. Permits are not required, but there are fairly tough requirements on the contents of the sale and on signage. Yes, that’s right folks, signage.

“Directional signs” on “public land” are a great concern. You can almost imagine the bureaucrat nodding along with a face full of worry.

Here is an excerpt from egarageslae.com.au on the important issue:

“The Brisbane city council considers that directional signs can contribute to visual clutter in our residential areas, lead to increased amounts of litter, and produce untidy streetscapes. Council officers work both during the week and on weekends to ensure Brisbane retains its clean and tidy image, thus ensuring its livability. Signs which are contrary to the policy (such as garage sale signs) may be confiscated and fines of $375 (for each sign) may be issued to the holder of the garage sale.”

But don’t be dismayed. They’re a thoughtful bunch at the council, as you’ll see below.

“Don’t let fines eat into your garage sale profits. Please ensure any signage is located within your own property only and not located on streets, power poles or other street furniture such as bins and bus shelters.”

As if my crappy old chair and crappy old books were going to raise $375 for the dumpling fund. (That’s not to say you shouldn’t come to my garage sale this Sunday, because there are sure to be some bargains!!)

The fuss about the signs reminded me of a recent trip to Whale Beach in Sydney. Along the winding, picturesque coast road there are stacks of signs yelling an assortment of greetings at motorists, from the less-than-extraordinary Happy Birthday and Welcome Home signs, to more obscure posts which included curious in-jokes. I’m not sure how distracting the signs were for the driver, but it provided great entertainment for us passengers. I felt there was a tight community hidden amongst the beaches. How lovely!

In Brisbane, however “it should be noted that Council Officers patrol 7 days per week and will look at any issues which appear to fall outside the appearance of a garage sale.”

Now I’m worried that my poor green old chair will never find a happy new owner…

Photo by Chiot’s Run.

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