Last updated: May 13. 2014 1:54PM - 1276 Views
By Travis McMullen Contributing Columnist

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It’s garage sale season in Sedalia.

And that also apparently means it is time to casually ignore city ordinance with reckless abandon. (More so than usual, of course. Many of us break city ordinance regularly without realizing it.)

“I thought the city had an ordinance about putting rummage sale signs and other advertising between the sidewalk and the street,” went one comment in a recent edition of the Sedline.

Yes, Sedline caller, you’re right. See Sec. 50-27. Prohibited obstructions:

“No person shall place any advertising, decorative articles, merchandise, tables or other articles upon any sidewalk, street or the parkway between any street and sidewalk in the city.”

At least 90 percent of the garage sale signs that we see each weekend are technically in violation of city ordinance, when you consider the above ordinance and the following one, which hits a lot more of them than the first:

“Sec. 36-276. Posting notices on trees, poles, etc.; prohibited. No person shall post or affix any notice, poster or other paper or device calculated to attract the attention of the public to any lamppost, public utility pole, shade tree or upon any public structure or building, except as may be authorized or required by law.”

Yes, those utility poles and stop signs full of neon-colored rummage sale signs are crime scenes. And what’s worse, is that they break ordinances so boldly that they do it with something that has their address on it and they leave it up long after the sale has ended. At least pick up your signs afterward.

Many of Sedalia’s utility poles are showing the wear of years and years of tack and nail abuse. Their surfaces are covered with metal bits and paper shreds, too deeply imbedded to ever come back out. It’s like a terrible game of Jenga — maybe the next garage sale weekend will bring the tack that will finally cause a chain reaction of the existing smaller splits in the wood and cause a significant chunk of the pole to fall off. Someday someone’s going to get stuck with a nice bill for a whole new pole. It’s death by a thousand garage sale signs, and eventually they add up.

I know the city code enforcement officials have their hands full with just the section of the city code that has to do with buildings. But for the sake of the city coffers maybe every once in a while they should hit the pole at 16th and Ohio, or 16th and Ingram and score some of the easiest code breaking investigations in the history of the world. I wonder who’s breaking ordinance here? Gee, must be the people at this address! Take some pictures, mail out some fees with some indisputable evidence. Ignorance of the code is no excuse!

But of course that leaves the problem of how people should advertise their garage sales. I’ve got a few suggestions.

There’s probably some sort of stray animal in your neighborhood. Simply catch them (With your hands, of course! There’s no sport in it otherwise!) and spray paint their sides with the relevant garage sale information. Bigger animals are obviously better for this purpose, but harder to catch. Paint up the whole pack and then put a big pile of something that they like to eat at the corner of the most highly trafficked intersection near the location of the sale. If you’d rather not paint them, then rig up a personalized sandwich board for them to wear.

Of course anyone that knows anything about outdoor, street-level advertising knows that the real way to draw the crowds is to hire yourself a professional sign spinner. The sign spinner is most effective when he is spinning the sign so fast that you can’t even tell what he’s advertising. A sufficiently spun sign might be incomprehensible to the normal human eye, but it sticks in your subconscious.

But the revenue stream from a standard garage sale probably doesn’t justify the salary that a professional sign spinner would demand. So as long as you fly under the radar of the local sign spinners’ union you can just hire that kid from down the street. His sign spinning skills might be lacking, but the value is great because he works for garage sale toys.

Or you could just get yourself a little remote drone and hang a garage sale sign on it. Now that’s dynamic! If the traffic is low you could just move it somewhere else and it comes with the added benefit of being able to make strategic strikes against rival garage sales!

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