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Garage Sale’ing’ 101

August 6th, 2014

garage sale map

I spend a lot of time at my “real job” searching for canned content. Canned content consists of very general stories on a certain topic. You see, the newspaper I work at runs a Special Section for each and every event there is. We have a Home & Garden Section, Beef Section, Grain Section (obviously we’re a bunch of farmers in this neck of the woods), Back-To-School Section, etc., etc., etc. It’s like clockwork, first week of August: Back-To-School Section; second week of August: Souvenir Fair Section (the one with a million photos of kids, chickens, hogs and horses along with a list of every purple, blue and red ribbon won at the County Fair); third week of August: Fall Sports Preview (the one with a million pictures of sweaty kids lined up for their football, volleyball, softball, golf or tennis team photo). This week is Back-To-School and while searching for content, I came across countless articles offering tips on how to save money when buying school supplies and guidelines for buying the best lunch bag. Other random stories were thrown in there as well (the search option never seems to find me the right stuff) and one was called “Garage Sales 101: Tips for shoppers and sellers” I gave it a quick read to see if I had been doing it right, garage sale’ing’ that is.

I’m not what you would call an avid “garage saler”, I’m a one-Saturday-a-year-garage-saler and that one Saturday of the year takes place the second weekend of June every summer in my little burg. That’s the day we hold our Community Wide Garage Sales and since I’m all about finding treasures in other peoples junk let’s see how well I did according to “Garage Sales 101: Tips for shoppers and sellers”:

Tip No. 1: Map your route. Target areas that are more likely to have what you want.

Check! This one is pretty simple since our amazing garage sale planner posts a handy map and list of every garage sale on the route along with a general description of what they have for sale. I printed mine out three days in advance in order to start preparing. Fifty-five garage sales this year! That has to be a record.

I headed over to my sister Kelli’s on Friday night so we could map our route. She had already been working the phones. Someone was giving away a free crib! A free crib! Kelli has been trying to buy a crib at Ikea on every one of our trips down south for the last year and they are always out of stock. Turns out the seller was a relative so Kelli gave her a call and secured her first purchase before the sale even started (technically it wasn’t a purchase since she got it for free, but what a deal).

leather chair

Next she called about the leather couch, chair and ottoman that Seller No. 17 had listed (it looks pinkish-red in the photo but is really dark brown.) My niece Marli would be joining us in the morning and would soon be moving into her first apartment. Marli was bound and determined to furnish said apartment while scouring her neighbors garages. Seller No. 17 invited us over to inspect the furniture, after giving it a test drive and sending Marli a few photos we had a deal… and the day hadn’t even started.

Tip No. 2: Shop early for the best selection.

Checkish? I was at Kelli’s at 8 a.m. Of course that didn’t mean we started shopping at 8 a.m. Marli was ready to go, in fact she told me she had woken up at 5 a.m. and couldn’t get back to sleep because she was so excited to do some Garage Salein. Kelli on the other hand…

Tip No. 3: But not too early. Don’t arrive hours before the sale starts.

Check! In fact that leads me to…

Tip No. 4: Always start the day with a good breakfast. That tip wasn’t actually in the article but it’s a good one anyway. Numerous sales on the route would be serving food all day but only one would be selling “hot breakfast sandwiches, frosted cinnamon and caramel rolls, blueberry, banana nut and strawberry bran muffins…”

breakfast sandwich

You guessed it… Cousin Stacy the Cupcake and Cookie Lady. Every year she transforms her garage into a cafe serving breakfast, smoothies, sweets and even a brown bag lunch.

Brown Bag lunch chalkboard

baseballs and flip flops

cupcakes

the big board

Kimberly and sweets table

Family members, like her sister Kimberly, come from all across the country to help her out for the big sale.

The place was already hopping when we got there, we were able to snag a table…

Martha having breakfast

and enjoy some homemade goodies. No, Marli didn’t eat everything in that to-go container, we stocked up for later in the day, gotta keep the energy up.

breakfast sandwich and balls

I also snagged my first purchase of the day at Stacy’s. See those scuffed up old croquet balls behind my delicious breakfast sandwich? Bought for mere dollars which brings me to…

Tip No. 5: Carry cash, preferably small bills. It won’t do you much good if you hand over at $20 after talking the price down on a $2 item. Check! Small bills it is.

Next on the list is Tip No. 6: Don’t drive your Lexus when you can take the Hyundai. Pricey cars show you have money to spend, and sellers will be less inclined to negotiate prices. Is a 2002 Trailblazer a cheap enough vehicle? It’s nothing fancy but got us where we needed to go. Even better, with 55 garage sales on the route we could walk from sale to sale trying to look as poor as possible in order to secure some good deals.

Tip No. 7: If you buy something too big to take with you, request a signed receipt from the seller. Be sure to write down the seller’s address. Make sure the seller puts a sold tag on the item, along with your name and phone number. Uhhh, we kind of ignored this tip.

Marthas trapped

Marli found an awesome, old, rusty, metal gate that she immediately proclaimed to be her new headboard. Ahhh, a girl after my own heart. After a bit of wheeling and dealing she purchased it and instead of us driving two blocks over and borrowing the old man’s pickup, we decided to cram it into said Trailblazer, along with Marli. She crawled in back to guide it in and by the time it all fit in my car she was stuck, so we left her there. And then, as evidenced by the wooden bench…

Marthas trapped 2

I piled my purchases on top of her as well. However, we failed when it came to Tip No. 8: Carry some wet wipes or hand sanitizer to clean your hands. See Kelli in the front door behind Marli? She’s trying to clean up her can of pop that spilled all over my front seat as we shoved Marli in the car along with the gate. While other shoppers stopped to stare and laugh at us, the gate seller came over and told me he would have been happy to deliver the gate to my house for nothing. Good to know, I’ll remember that for next year.

We did however, learn from our mistake, after dropping the gate off (and unsquishing Marli) at my house we stopped by the high school. They were selling some old school furniture out of the bus barn. I snagged some sweet school chairs…

school chairs

FOR EIGHT DOLLARS!!! YEP, THAT’S WHAT I SAID, FOUR FOR EIGHT DOLLARS! And see that old, wooden teachers desk behind them? Marli picked that up, along with a matching wooden chair, for $25! SCORE! This time I paid attention to Tip No. 7 and asked Seller No. 24 to mark the items sold so I could come back with the old man’s truck to pick them up.

We also failed miserably when it came to Tip No. 9: Try to make fast decisions. If you find yourself wavering too long, put it back and move on. You probably won’t use it. At Sale No. 18 we lingered and we wavered. We came across this amazing bedroom set…

Sawyers dresser

a large dresser, headboard, footboard…

Sawyers vanity

and awesome vanity with stool. It had been the sellers childhood bedroom set and would be absolutely perfect for my niece Morgan who was at that moment searching for a bedroom set for her daughter in Kansas. We sent pictures and made several phone calls but ended up having to wait around for a final decision from Kansas. While waiting I stocked up on old picture frames and was entertained by these two happy little guys…

Jase and Jax 1

twins Jase and Jax were helping out at the family garage sale. Their job: testing the merchandise…

Jase and Jax 2

they took their assignment seriously…

Jase and Jax 3

and were really good at it, with a little help from mom.

Finally the verdict was in… the bedroom set was a go! Can’t you just see it with a coat of pink paint in a sweet, little girl’s bedroom?

Next we headed out to the country and happened upon a quonset filled with old treasures. It was in this old quonset that Marli adhered to Tip No. 10: If you’re not sure about an item, carry it around for awhile. That way if you decide to buy it, it won’t be too late. This is what Marli carried around for awhile…

Owly wrapped in a towely

if anyone else were carrying that around I would think they were crazy. But oddly enough, it fit Marli’s personality perfectly. I also ended up carrying around a crate full of treasures…

Garage Sale finds

I can’t pass up a good soda crate, that flying saucer will be added to my collection of old metal toys and Seller No. 55 wondered if I knew what those metal things covered in polka dots were. “Of course,” I said, “They are old noisemakers. I collect them.” She was shocked that I had a collection of them… hey lady, I’m no amateur.

After picking up a few more items for Marli’s apartment, a set of lamps and some kitchen supplies, we headed back to Stacy’s for our brown bag lunch…

Lunch Sample

she thinks of everything doesn’t she? We also nabbed a few more sweets…

Rainbow cookies

for the little girlies who were currently zooming down I-35 on their way to visit us.

All in all, it was a successful day and like most canned content, the tip list didn’t really teach me anything I didn’t already know. Soon we traded my Trailblazer for the old man’s truck and made our rounds…

Truck load

picking up purchases along the way I swear I could hear the “Sanford & Son” theme song following us around… bumpbum, badow, bumpbum, badow, badow, bum, bumpbum, badow…

2 Responses to “Garage Sale’ing’ 101”

  1. ang Says:

    I’m seriously jealous and will probably need to skip the Wichita basketball tournament next year just to snag some treasures. I’ll be getting up before 8 to beat you to the goodies.

  2. Kathryn Says:

    Just LOVE reading your blog posts! Your photography is great and your way with words is just as good! (Would love to see a post – or at the least a picture – of that awesome bedroom set painted pink!)

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