I’ll give you a dollar for the lot

by DaniGirl on May 23, 2005 · 7 comments

in Uncategorized

Garage saling has become a verb. It is now the thing to do on a Saturday morning in my end of suburbia. You don’t go to garage sales, you go garage saling.

Garage sales fascinate me. I love to look at what people are selling, and especially what people are buying.

I’m particular about what I’ll buy – it truly grosses me out that people buy other people’s sheets and flatware for example. But the combination of the thrill of acquisition and the even bigger thrill of a good deal is too much for me to resist.

It’s a ritualistic behaviour. Load the kids into the car early on Saturday morning (and it has to be early, much to Beloved’s chagrin. It’s the only thing that can lure him out of the house before noon on the weekend.) Fortify everyone with drive-thru coffee and timbits, and you’re off on the chase. It’s like following a modern-day treasure map.

You spot a sign, and you turn down an unfamiliar street. You peer ahead, looking for the next marker, and you make another turn. Up ahead, you see the cluster of cars parked haphazzardly in the street. You slow to a crawl, rubbernecking the goods while trying not to run over the lady crossing the street with the birdcage in one hand and the bread maker in the other hand, cord trailing behind her like a puppy.

You never know what you’ll find. Sometimes big fancy signs lead to paltry little sales with a few broken teacups and some 8 track cassettes. Sometimes a puny, don’t-blink-or-you’ll-miss-it sign leads to a multi-family extravaganza.

We’re usually on the lookout for kids’ stuff, especially outdoor toys. This past weekend, we scored a Little Tykes dumptruck perfect for the park, a ride-on Megablocks train, plus a deacon’s bench in need of paint but otherwise in good shape, and carpet steam cleaner — all for $20.

When we got home, I put the deacon’s bench in the garage until we decide on a more permanent home for it. I had to move the oak spice rack I bought at a garage sale last summer but never got around to hanging, and shift the old-fashioned school desk that was totally free and only needs a little bit of work to clean it up back into the corner.

On average, I’d say about a third of the stuff we’ve bought at garage sales has been something truly useful and really a great deal, like the weed whacker we got for $5. (Digression: our lawn mower was an even better deal. It was sitting at the end of someone’s driveway with a “FREE” sign on it, so I snagged it. Unfortunately, at the time I was pushing Tristan and Simon in the double stroller and walking the dog. We were a motley parade, with me pushing 60 pounds of babies in the double and holding the leash with one hand and dragging the lawn mower behind us with the other. We got a lot of funny looks, but free is free and two years later that lawn mower still does a fine job.)

Granted, not all our acquisitions have been gems. There was the lego set that did not lose its eau de cat piss even after an overnight soaking in bleach, and the fireplace poker set that was a really great deal at $6, even though it has been sitting in our garage ever since because it didn’t occur to me at the time that a house with two young boys has use for neither fire nor iron hand tools in the living room. But maybe some day I’ll use them.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 mgood May 23, 2005 at 3:11 pm

We are in for trouble – the Globe and Mail this weekend had an article in the style section describing how the truly hip people are now bypassing shopping in “vintage boutiques” and going directly to the source – our precious, precious garage sales.
Dammit, one of the benefits of “garage saling” was not having to deal with “vintage boutique” customers!

2 alliemom May 23, 2005 at 5:14 pm

Ooooh Dani. You know my view on garage sales!! I actually feel quite annoyed when I have to work on Saturday and see all those garage sale signs beckoning me!! I too have acquired some interesting ‘things’ in my quest for great bargains. There was the ‘perfect’ office chair that I couldn’t fit in the car so pushed it(fortunately it had wheels!!) the 4 blocks home. Brought it into the house, up to the office, sat on it and the seat gave way!! It also reaked of cigarette smoke. What the hell was I thinking?! Oh, I know. It was a bargain. How could I pass that up?!! LOL
ps Glad you’re feeling better. I’m sorry things have been overwhelming lately. Big hugs!!

3 SilverCreek Mom May 23, 2005 at 6:34 pm

I’ve only garage saled once….Havent’t the knack for it. I find it more fun to go with friends than myself or the kids.
Glad you got some neat stuff.

4 sharbean May 23, 2005 at 8:13 pm

I love garage sales — I can’t believe I ever paid full price for anything in the past. Especially kids stuff.

5 twinmomplusone May 24, 2005 at 4:45 am

During our pre-kids life we were for a while addicted to estate auctions/sales, every weekend sniffing one up…like the time this bar that went bankrupt was selling everything and where we picked up 4 crates of records (yes, the vinyl ones) for some outrageously low price.
Then the kids arrived and so many of their toys and books came from garage sales.
The most fun we had was last summer when we organized a street sale. The real serious shoppers arriving even before the sale was supposed to start. Couldn’t believe all the stuff we sold, wish I had put more out. It also helped that dd set up a lemonade stand thus quenching the thirst of passersby and forcing them to stay a little while longer ๐Ÿ˜‰
Sounds like a fun family tradition to have on Saturday mornings!

6 Batman May 24, 2005 at 5:17 am

It always amazes me what people will buy just because it’s cheap. I suppose I’m as guilty as the next person though. My problem is that once I buy something, I refuse to part with it.
I progressed from garage sales to auctions. I filled my house with estate furniture. Shortly thereafter, I implemented a self-imposed moratorium on buying furniture. I couldn’t fit another table or chair in my house if I tried. I found some great buys though (and of course some questionable purchases as well).
Restraint…what’s that?

7 Danigirl May 24, 2005 at 12:50 pm

Sheesh, first blogs are the new black, now garage sales are the new black… I’m so hip it hurts. (Or, did I hurt my hip?)
Allie’s Mom, I was thinking of you in particular as I wrote this!!
We got into auctions for a while too, although kids and auctions are not a good mix. And like Batman, we have no room left for big stuff, just little stuff that can be hidden under, stacked on or piled around everything else.
xo Danigirl

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