Sunday, June 02, 2013

The Garage Sale, or How I Like to Spend Summer Saturday Mornings

I've always loved garage sales. It's the fun of the hunt, the thrill of bargaining, the excitement of the great find. And it's a great way to spend a weekend morning in the fresh air, meeting new people and enjoying the sunshine. Garage sales aren't nearly as much fun in the rain. Just sayin'.

My mom and I would have garage sale dates on Saturday mornings when I still lived in St. John's. She'd pick me up, we'd swing by Timmie's for coffee and then follow the guide of the newspaper classifieds to scour the sales. Of course, if we saw a sign pointing to an unadvertised sale along the way we always made the detour.  My little house was decorated with my finds, from my china cabinet to the refurbished curio shelf in my kitchen to my medicine cabinet and more.

But my real addiction is for china cups and saucers and pretty dishes. I'm a real sucker for a pickle dish. Just ask my bestie. She mocks me mercilessly for this.

Now, in my current home, I am in a purge mode as you know. So I try to be more discerning in my garage sale purchases. But I still love the pretty. Our neighbourhood holds an annual garage sale, where up to 100 houses generally take part. We've been on the selling side a few times, but it's a lot of work, so now I just donate our unwanted items throughout the year. That means I am free to visit everyone else's driveways and yards full of junk treasures!

Yesterday was our 2013 sale day. Little Boo and I left the house just after 9am, and we were later joined by my bestie and her family. The weather was a little questionable at first, but it turned into a beautiful sunny day. We had a blast browsing, buying, and chatting with each other and the neighbours. Everyone found some great deals, and the kids all got a few new to them toys.

LB and I each had our own money. He left the house with $10.50, and I had $53.00. I brought a larger amount than I might have because I was knew I was buying plants, and I was looking for a shelving/display unit (didn't find one). At the end of the day, LB had spent $3.75, and I had spent $36.25. Here is our haul:


There were also hot dogs and drinks at the local church. Just check out what LB got for $3.75:


My favourite finds are the teapot and the old metal bar stand. I've already sanded and painted the stand and will be putting on the final touches later today. The DIY story will come soon in another post!

I want to leave you with some tips from the buyer side of the garage sale experience. These are some of the things I am trying to teach Little Boo. He loves a garage sale as much as I do, and I hope we are able to continue our outings for many years to come. Just like I did with my mom.

  • Be prepared to bargain, but don't be cheap. You'll only insult the seller, and that will shut down negotiations quickly.
  • But don't quibble over a 25 cent item.
  • Buy in bulk for deeper discounts. If you want a number of items from one seller, you can usually get a bundled cost. The price tags may add up to $11.50, but offer $10. Sellers usually just want to clear things out.
  • Be polite! Don't call things junk, even if they are. Firstly, it's just rude. Secondly, it's not going to get you anywhere with negotiations.
  • Decide on a budget and bring only that much with you. 
  • Bring coins and small bills; not all sellers have a great collection of change on hand. Plus, presenting exact change can help you strike a bargain. "I've got $3.25. Is that good for these?"
  • Bring your own bags and/or a buggy to carry your treasures. 

One final note, in terms of the benefits of garage sales for kids. If you give your child their own money to spend, they will have the opportunity to budget for how they spend it, and to decide if they really want/need a particular item, or if they should keep their limited cash for something else. Plus, there are opportunities to practice addition and subtraction, as they determine how much they need for the batch of items they've selected, or predict how much change they'll receive. They also can learn about coins and bills as they select the right combination to equal or exceed the total of their purchases.  There are learning opportunities everywhere - you just have to look for them!

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