Monday, September 24, 2012

Don't Forget the Garage and Yard Sales


      Until recently, I had not been to a garage sale in quite a time. I have most things we need here, and need to focus on organizing some things, general maintenance, etc. and not really on acquisition. However, my eldest son and my daughter do need a few things and garage sales can be a great place to get some of them.  I have a hard and fast rule that I do not buy toasters or electrical articles which could have a short in a garage sale, and later could start a fire. When the kids were small, I bought a broad range of good things from garage sales. If I bought toys I washed them all in hot soapy water with a cap or two of bleach in the sink before rinsing and drying them.  Some people run some toys through the sanitization cycle on their dishwasher and that would work too.
                      I must also admit that depending upon your area, you can go to a lot of sales which don't have anything in which you are interested. However, you really just never know.  It can certainly be feast or famine. You can go to a sale in which you are hard pressed to find even a single item that you need for something, and then go to another sale where you simply don't have enough cash to buy all the things they have that would be useful to you or to your family.   We were fortunate to have zeroed-in on one of these types of sales this week.  A woman in our area is selling everything and moving in with her daughter in another state, and she had many items which were new and in boxes that she had never used, for very reasonable prices.  She had a host of excellent pots and pans, and cookware in boxes, all of which my daughter needs.  My son found a top brand weed whacker, and you can simply never have enough of those !

These are a few tips I have found over the years:

1.  Try to go as soon as the sale opens. Many start at 8 am, on a Saturday, and a lot of their best items go to dealers or other shoppers at that time.

2. If you are available on a Friday, check your area newspaper and hit the Friday sales if you can.  Very few people can attend these and often there are some great items.

3. Don't buy things you can't clean or launder.  Although you can get MRSA trying on a pair of new shoes, you cannot dismiss the possibility that you can get it from even nice looking garage sale coats or shoes.  Spray the inside of new and used shoes when you get them with a generic lysol, and then let them air out for a full day. The germs will be gone, and by then, so will the disinfectant chemical odor which is something you don't want up against your skin either.

4. Always wash used toys by running through dishwasher or using 2 caps full of bleach in got soapy water at your sink.  Rinse them, and let them dry before giving to children.

5. The best buys in wooden furniture can be found in garage sales.  Many times, you can buy a piece of furniture or even a set for a fraction of the cost of the item new, and you can get far better quality than you can in many new stores.

6. Linens can be an interesting thing.  Most of us would not want linens which had been used, however, many times, bedsheets, blankets, and curtains are in new packaging. If the colors fit your decor, these can be fantastic buys.

7. Keep in mind not to over pay.   Garage sale items usually go for a fraction of the retail price of such an item, even when new.

8. You don't have to BUY anything. The journey of seeking can be just as enjoyable as the final result of acquiring things you want or need.

9. Bring cash, and singles when you can. It makes the process easier than getting change.  Very few take checks, and I wouldn't take one, and I wouldn't give my personal information by writing one either.

10. Bring a car with enough room. If you have access to two cars, bring the one with more room.

11. Bring some large roller style trash bags.  Sometimes you'll wish to put something like clay flower pots in a bag rather before placing in a new car.

12. I have bought lovely daylillies, irises and other plants people have split at garage sales and I have always done well. However, my son warns that this can be a way to introduce wire grass or diseases to your garden, so be cautious.

13.  Garage sales can be one of the best sources of older solid American-made gardening tools, which are all but unavailable in conventional hardware stores now.  Look carefully !

14. Almost everything from fairly new bunk beds sans mattresses to silver coins can be found at garage sales. Over the years I have found some wonderful things, although I will admit to pickings being slimmer in the past couple of years.

            Have a good time, and enjoy those special purchases which do eventually come.

Yes, everything from Wedgewood to silver can be found at some garage sales.


Dani said...

Garage sales are wonderful - the best way to recycle (repurpose I think you call it). Thanks for spreading the word :)

Gorges Smythe said...

A former friend of my wife's absolutely wore her out on yard sales. I've found a few good hand tools there, though, when I can keep her from howling.

JaneofVirginia said...

I stopped going in the last couple of years because I don't really need anything, and I really do subscribe to the idea that less is more. I am thrilled with some of the things we have gotten recently. My son bought a gorgeous corner table for which he paid $35. I thought that was a lot until I got the catalog today from Sturbridge Yankee Shop and the table we bought is $299.

LL Cool Joe said...

I've never been to a Garage sale, I sell all my old stuff on ebay but I wash everything. Even the kids old shoes go through the washing machine, but it amazes me how many people don't do that to used items!

JaneofVirginia said...

Joe, I still buy on Ebay and until the last couple of years when it became more expensive to sell on Ebay, I did that too. I made a tidy sum on selling my son's outgrown sporting equipment. Used golf clubs sold like hotcakes there ! The nice thing about garage sales is that if you need furniture, and my kids moving out do, the garage sales provide and easy and inexpensive way of helping to assemble a home, without spending a fortune. I still love Ebay and have been a member since 2002 !