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Why I LOVE Garage Sales

Why I LOVE Garage Sales

This weekend was epic for garage-saling (garage-sailing? like the boat? I glide and tack from one sale to another?… Anyway…). I think that as people realize summer is over, they are getting more anxious about finally having that garage sale that they planned to have back in June. Or maybe they know that Princeton is crawling with poor grad students looking to furnish apartments. Whatever the reason, I am thrilled to reap the rewards.

Garage sales can be hit or miss, which is what adds to the excitement. You never know what you are going to find, or what you will see and fall in love with. And how little money someone is willing to accept for you to take away their trash treasure. In addition to the adventure, usually the people selling are friendly and helpful. One of this weekend’s garage sales even include free iced tea. Score!

There are two good times to go to a garage sale: First, RIGHT when the sale STARTS. That’s what you have the best pick of all the stuff.  Oddly enough, the other good time to go to the sale is RIGHT at the END of the sale. By that time the sellers are tired. They don’t want to move their crap back into the garage, or load it into a car and drive to Goodwill. So they are vulnerable and desperate  very willing to bargain. At the end of a garage sale, sometimes almost everything becomes free. Or large portions of it. Paradoxically, it’s best to be at a garage sale both first and last, but not in the middle. Good things come to those who arrive super early, and/or to those who wait. Go figure.

Anyway, I have a story from this weekend to illustrate. I found this garage sale listed on craigslist, an “everything must go” sale (these are infinitely better garage sales than those held by people who are just trying to make an extra buck and don’t mind holding onto things forever). I went by in the morning. The sellers were worried about rain, so they hadn’t taken much out of their garage, but invited me inside to rummage. What adventure! I felt like Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Arc (which is much more glamorous than being the sleep-deprived grad student who made a zipcar reservation for far earlier in the day than she should have, so she was trying to take advantage of her early bird status). And I found the mother load:

This gorgeous chair was just sitting there waiting for me. I mean look at those legs, and those curves! I know I sound like I am checking out a lovely lady, and that’s what this chair is. If I was a cartoon wolf, this is when my eyes would have bulged out of my head to the “Ow-Ooh-Ga!” sound, and my jaw would have fallen to the floor, then my tongue would have rolled out. Before speaking, I would have to re-roll my tongue into my mouth, and manually push my jaw shut with my hands. And then shake my head to that cartoon “I’m shaking my head now” sound. You know the one.

I asked the nice man how much she cost. He told me that she had a busted leg. I nervously inspected her legs, and saw that he had fixed one of the legs in an OK condition – could see the nail head, but it felt pretty sturdy and didn’t show too much. I asked again for her price. He said $10. I probably should have tried to bargain, but was too excited. I blurted out “I’lltakeit!” And then, he told me that he had another chair, very similar. The fast-paced part of the Indiana Jones theme song played in my head. Then, the nice man showed me this:

And again, my tongue rolled out of my open jaw, and the Ow-Ooh-Ga sound, etc… Only now since there was a pair of them, my heart throbbed out of my chest in the shape of a heart, and my pupils also became heart shaped. Just $10? Yes, please!!! The nice man had already started the reupholstering process, so he had the old fabric and the new fabric all cut and ready to go.  This would make my job of re-reupholstering much simpler, though I won’t use the fabric he had planned on using.

Just as I was congratulating myself for being an incredible archeologist… eh… cartoon wolf… eh… garage-sailor, I turned around and saw this:

Ginormous picture frame in great shape. I am not keeping the art work in the painting (that is just what was already inside the frame). But this thing is HUGE. It’s about 4×5 or something (I have yet to measure it) and weighs a lot. While the chairs fit easily into my zipcar, the frame required a little bit of work. I had to drive home with the trunk open. Oh well. I have lots of wall space to cover in the new apartment, and this piece will help with that. Plus, big frames are EXPENSIVE, and this one was not.

And, on my way out from this garage sale, I found 3 other little frames that I got for $9, total.

I don’t know what I will do with these picture frames yet, but it will involve spray paint, etc… And will be awesome. (Obvi.)

Back to the story I was telling about how I went to this garage sale early with my zipcar. I left to run the rest of my errands (and of course had to extend my zip car reservation because of the garage sale detour). Anyway, a friend calls me at about 12:30 because she is at the same garage sale (which was supposed to end at 1pm BTW). She says they have a sewing machine for $25 bucks. She knew I wanted one, so sent me a pic. I had her ask if the nice man would take $15 for it. He said yes, and now I have a new sewing machine. See, the point is, when I got there in the morning, there was TOO much stuff for me to find the sewing machine. When my friend went later, she found it easily. Together, we divided and conquered that garage sale with the one-two punch combination of arriving both early AND late. Woot!

Also, I went to another garage sale this weekend on the way to the Saturday flea market with a friend (which was a terrible flea market bust). We decided we would just swing by this one right-quick since it was on the way to the flea market. Thank goodness we did. Here is what I found:

The world’s CUTEST picnic basket for JUST $3!!! The lid is on hinges and everything. I died. I will use it for real picnics, but in the mean time, it will serve as an end table or something in my living room because it’s got the most perfect patina ever. I thing Yogi Bear may track me down, because seriously, this is the quintessential picnic basket. He probably smells it already and is telling BooBoo about it.

A gallon-size bag full of round wooden beads. I have big plans for these beads, which will all be revealed in due time. I went to Michael’s the day after I bought these, and they charge like $3 for maybe 6 of those beads. Garage Sale 1,000,000: Michael’s: 0 (except for all the other crap I bought at Michael’s).

Cool bamboo birdhouse for $8. I know that’s a little steep, but I bought another bird house at Goodwill for $5, and I really need two to bring together my inspiration. (Note, I stole my inspiration from here: – my bird cages are different shapes and sizes, but I will paint both white and it will still be awesome). Also, don’t judge me for ugly linoleum flooring – I live in student housing, and don’t have much of a say in the matter of floor coverings.

So (Garage) Sailor, at ease. And get yourself to the nearest garage sale! And then tell me about why YOU love garage sales, preferably with pictures.

3 responses »

  1. Just don’t spray paint the picture frames yellow and then leave them empty!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • I am only approving this comment because it’s from you, Jamie. However, viewers should know that it is PERFECTLY acceptable to hang empty frames. Sometimes, you just don’t have the right thing to put in them.

  2. Pingback: Amazing Find! Antique Dresser « Suits and Aprons

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