Yard sales are like treasure hunts, sometimes items lay for years in the dusty, dirty crevasses of attics, garages and storage units. Grandmas childhood trinkets and grandpa’s old tool box sit waiting to be rediscovered and enjoyed after years of silent stillness. Yard sales are a wonderful place for finding the lightly used and brand new. Here are my secret best bargain tips for finding your treasures.
Top 10 Best Yard Sale Tips
1. FIND YOUR SALES: You have to find out what is out there first. Here are the top 3 websites I like to reference the day before: Craigslist, Yard Sale Treasure Map & Yard Sale Search, and don’t forget the local paper.
2. THE GAME PLAN: Note your sale start times and plan a good route. This is important to save gas and to hit the most important areas first. More affluent areas may be your best bet for newer & lightly used finds, the older more established areas for more of your vintage gems. Hint: Block sales are a great timesaver too.
3. WANTS & NEEDS LIST: Yard sales are great places to find school clothes, home decor, sporting equipment, games, kitchen supplies etc. My youngest child has been impeccably dressed in the best designer clothing from garage sales for the past 4 years. It’s a teaching moment for kids in not only stretching dollars, but the importance of reusing, recycling and repurposing to save out planet.
4. APPEARANCE: You want to be able to negotiate right? Then don’t show up with your designer jeans carrying a coach purse, driving up in your BMW. If your outer appearance screams, “I CAN PAY IT, ” chances are you will and even your best negotiating skills will render useless.
5. CHECKLIST: Your map and sale start times, pencil and notepad (never know when you have to take a name/number down to put up an item later), GPS, phone, money holder (suggest a small item to wrap around wrist or fanny pack), hat/sunglasses and plenty of cash in small denominations. Also make sure your car is filled with gas the day before and you grab a couple of snacks and water so you do not have to stop.
6. BUYING: I always ask myself 3 things when I pick up an item. Can I use it, can I gift it or can I sell it? If I can say a definite yes to one of these then I go to my next step…..the negotiation.
7. NEGOTIATING: Yes this does take a bit of practice, but after a few times you’ll be a pro. Especially after you get to know the going rate of certain items. My big advantage is listening to the seller with other buyers prior to my offer. This gives me the edge and lets me know if the seller is firm on prices. I also try to smile and strike up a conversation with the seller, maybe find a common ground of interest. The instant “like” factor often helps me get a much better deal. I also try to be very fair with my seller. I never low ball too much but offer a lower fair price, leaving room for a bit of haggling. If a buyer outright tells me a price before my offer I often respond, “what is the lowest offer you would accept?” 90% of the time the priced is dropped again..sometimes much lower than I would have expected!
8. KEEP A SMILE: Yes it can get crazy out there! I have been blocked into parking spots, yelled at, pushed, insulted, and the list goes on! Keep your chin up, be polite, and don’t let anything or anyone ruin your experience.
9. BE SAFE: Its early and you’re tired. Wake up with that coffee and watch for crazy drivers. They will be out there flying through the neighborhoods trying to get the best deal before you. Also, never ever hit your brakes hard trying to get a glimpse of that sale across the street, you will get hit by the guy driving too close behind! Carry your phone for emergencies!
10. FUN: Have fun and remember that it’s a hit and miss. If you don’t find what you are looking today, you may find it next weekend! Happy hunting and drop a comment and tell me how this list worked for you.
WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST YARD SALE TREASURE FIND?
I miss the wholesome classic sitcoms of the 60’s through 80’s? Flipping through the channels these days, I am overwhelmed with the lifestyles, messages and ideals being portrayed to a very impressionable grade school daughter. I find myself taping entire series so that I can share some of these lesson learning classics with her.
What is your favorite retro sitcom and why?
Funky owl fashion has returned as one of 2011’s hottest trends. Its time to look in the back of mom’s jewelry box and pull out those vintage whimsical feathered friends. It all started in home decor back at the end of 2009 and has slowly trickled into the wearable fashion market. Necklaces have been the craze this summer, the wise old bird has also been spotted in pins and earrings too. Though stores like Forever 21 and Charlotte Russe have been cornering the market on affordable mass-produced versions, unique vintage styles are highly sought after and are fetching a pretty penny. Ebay is the perfect place to find those hidden bargains, including fantastic signed pieces. Looks like these guys will be staying perched for a while too. Vintage owls will transition nicely into the Fall retail market with their mix of earthy colors. They will be quite the “hoot” striking a couture pose on the runway with Fashion Designer Jill Stuart’s fall line , who is featuring owls in her 70’s inspired collection. What do you think about this retro return?
1848: Gold rush started in California and durable clothing was needed for the miners
1853: Leob Strauss (later changed to Levi Strauss) arrived in San Fransisco to start a wholesale clothing business. The miners were having trouble with pockets tearing and Jacob Davis had an idea to reinforce the pockets with rivets. Davis didn’t have the money to patent his idea at the time.
1872: Strauss worked with Davis to pay for the patent, and the production of copper-riveted “waist overalls” began.
1873: The first sales of riveted clothing began
1886: A leather label was added showing a pair of jeans being pulled in opposite directions by horses, thus showing the strength of the jeans.
1891: The rivet patent goes public and other companies begin to use the idea.
1930’s: The western movies of Hollywood showed cowboys wearing jeans increasing the popularity.
1940’s: During WWII jeans were not produced as much, but off duty GI’s introduced them to the world and people outside the US started to wear them after the war. Wranger and Lee competed for their share of the market.
1950’s: Denim became popular with many young people and was often known as a sign of rebellion. Some schools banned the wearing of denim. Teenagers called the waist overalls “jean pants”.
1960’s: Many college students wore jeans. Jeans reflected the 60’s fashions (embroidered, painted, patched). Outside the US, jeans became a symbol of “Western decadence”.
1970’s: World trade regulations relaxed and jeans were being made faster and cheaper in 3rd world countries. More people outside the USA begain wearing jeans
1980’s: Jeans went designer! Famous designer made their own styles and labels. Sales skyrocketed!
1990’s: Jeans sales went down and other fabics, finishes, cuts etc were introduced.
2000’s: Mix of decades past denim fashion blends. This is when we also see the $100 to $300 jeans.
Hats off to the man that started it all, Levi Strauss. What was your favorite Levi Strauss Style?
Material items seem to mean so much more when people pass. Every time I pick up a wooden spoon a rush of emotions turn to memories of my grandmother who I lost a few years ago. Grandma Tumbleson was a whirlwind, a silver ball of fire who could whip up an entire feast in the blink of an eye, darn a hole in any sock you thought was destined for the rag pile and had an incredible way with stories that could keep any child entertained for hours.
I remember when I left for college she gave me a dishrack dryer filled with soap, towels, cleaning supplies and a few other kitchen essentials to include a wooden spoon. I don’t remember grandma using a mixer too much if at all growing up, but I sure remember her wooden spoon. Its just one of those things I always associated her with. She was either using it to mix up one of the heirloom recipes, or shaking it at a child when they were out of line.
My entire family lovingly remembers her famous line that will forever be instilled in our hearts, “you better (here you have to insert the issue at hand) or I will beat your butt! “This was always said while clenching her worn wooden spoon and chasing the guilty around …most of the time the kitchen table, until you would be laughing so hard that you would agree to listen to anything she said. No one was immune to this treatment when she was around, I remember my father was even subject to this behavior a couple of times.
Today you will always find a wooden spoon in my kitchen, not only does it spark soothing childhood memories of a wonderful lady, it’s a way to teach my children about the gentle balance of order and turning life into happy moments.
My Wooden Spoon
This honorary junior picker received her new wheels today. My trusty wire basket served me well for about 3 years, but was horribly bent out of shape and sort of tilted to one side as I rolled down each dusty row of venders. The jeers and smirks I normally get from “not having the proper equipment” were met with great big smiles as my cart was hijacked by an 80-year-old man! Before I could question this odd behavior, fingers all pointed to a brand new shiny white metal rolling basket. “Here”, said one of my mentor pickers, “now you can roll like the big guys, now get going before the good stuff is gone!” Gotta love these guys of the greatest generation. Tough gruff exteriors but each has the heart of an angel.
My amazing find today came from a table piled high with costume jewelry that must have spanned at least 80 years. Treasure hunts like this tend to be a favorite of mine, but when it’s quickly approaching 100 degrees, you must work fast! A gold tone filigree pin caught my eye..oh, and its signed. I didn’t recognize the signature on the back, so I looked it up when I got home. This is what I found!
A gold tone JOSEFF of HOLLYWOOD filigree flower pin/brooch that dates back to the 1930’s-40’s. Joseff made jewelry used by the biggest stars in Hollywood. His beautiful creations were seen in movies like “Gone with the Wind” and “Around the World in Eighty Days” For Joseff it was very important to create pieces based in historical fact. The combining of movie industry requirements and his amazing talent resulted in some of the most gorgeous pieces ever seen. Currently on sale, click link below.
1920s Braves Field Press Box Stadium Seat
The 1920’s were the Golden Age of baseball. All but two of the stadiums are gone from that era, Fenway Park and Wrigley Field. Stadiums then were built to last, unlike the ambiance lacking typical box stadiums of the 60’s and 70’s. Braves Field was built-in 1915 and was home to many sports teams including the Braves who played there between 1915 to 1952, before moving to Milwaukee. Boston University purchased Braves Field and turned it into a football field, demolishing most of the original structure renaming it Nickerson Field replacing, the grass with Astroturf. This nostalgic piece is one of only two known stadium seats that sat in the Braves Field Press Box and recently sold at auction for $239.00. Notice the rare shade of green paint?
The 80’s were just a hoot anyway, but Gary Larson made them all the funnier. Gary Larson is the creator of The Far Side, a cartoon series that syndicated internationally to newspapers for 15 years. He produced 23 books prior to his retirement in 1995. I remember his comedic coffee cups always being given as gifts for that bit of humor during that perfect occasion and everyone had a copy or two of his hilarious paperback books that were always fun to pass around. Something you may not know about Gary is that he originally worked in a record store, was a jazz guitarest, designed an album cover for a jazz band and a cover for the New Yorker. I dusted off my copy of The Pre-History of the Far Side: A 10th Anniversary Exhibit. From Gary Larson’s introduction:
One day, a long, long time ago at a retail music store where I had been working for almost a year, I had an unexpected revelation. As I stood next to the cash register, the sky seemed to suddenly open up over my head and a throng of beautiful angels came flying down and swirled around me. In glorious, lilting tones, their voices rang out, “you haaaaaate your job….” And then they left. But I knew it was true – Angels don’t lie. I hated my job.
He’s an amazing artist, who followed his dream through a successful career and now his highly collectable art is coveted my many.