Saturday, May 24, 2008

Who'll Give A Dollar?

I'm a garage sale fanatic. A yard sale junkie. A flea market hound. Tag sale, moving sale, church bazaar, auction expert. I browse consignment stores, thrift shops, and every now and then, I'll "dumpster dive." Oh yes. True.

My parents are garage sale people from way back. Having found rare antiques, they've been hitting the garage sales since the early 60s. They can tell you a story about each piece of furniture in their house. Where they found it, how much they paid for it, what they wore and ate for breakfast the morning they bought it. But don't ask them what they ate yesterday. They probably won't remember. My point is, this has always been fun for them. It's rubbed off on their daughters, I can tell you that.

I bought a beautiful bench this morning. One that you put at the end of a bed, upholstered in floral material, with rolled arms at each side ... fifteen bucks. Perfect shape, never been used. I've seen them in consignment stores, stained and scratched, for fifty bucks. I've always wanted one. What a find!

In fact, I've converted my husband. He is now fully convinced we can furnish an entire house for next to nothing in price. Here's some tips:

- Don't waste expensive gas money going across town. Usually the best garage sales are in your own backyard. I've found my best buys just a mile from my own street.

- Get out there early. You'll find top notch stuff for dirt cheap at 6:30 and 7:00 on a Saturday morning.

- Garage sales are usually over by noon or one o'clock. But you can bicker on price as the day wears on. A five dollar item at 7 a.m. may cost only four dollars by noon. But don't wait if you really want it, because it'll be gone. I've learned the hard way.

- Most folks have garage sales to get rid of stuff. Making money is not the object of the game, it's just a benefit. So if you hit a sale that seems too pricey, walk away from it. Garage sale vendors need to learn that customers aren't going to pay store prices, discount and otherwise.

I once had a guy at a garage sale try to sell me some porcelain for $300.00. The retail sticker was still on it. I asked him what he was asking for it and he said, "I never used it, I'm selling it for what I paid for it." I laughed in the guy's face and walked away.

You got to be willing to nearly give things away. If not, sell them on eBay or put an add in the paper. Even though it may be a treasured find, I'm not going to pay much for your junk, no matter how bad I want it--no matter how much you originally paid for it. I'll take it off your hands for pennies on the dollar, otherwise, you can keep it. (That should be your yard sale attitude.)

- Get out there, rain or shine. This morning it poured rain. Who cares? It keeps the competition from walking off with that lamp you got your eye on. But, because of the rain, most yard sales listed in the paper never got started today. However, there were a few garage sales. That's where I found my bench. I found an antique mirror for 2 bucks at a church bazaar, held in their fellowship hall. The UAW was holding their parking lot sale for homeless veterans this morning, despite the rain. We stopped and walked around, getting wet, but I found a beautiful blue bowl. They wanted fifty cents, I gave them a dollar. It was for a good cause.

I'm happy with my haul.

Thing is, you've got to love bargains in order to do this. For every great sale, there are five sales filled with pure crap. You have to weed through it. Overlook the scratched and dented. You never know what you're going to find.

Blessings to you and yours.

No comments: