Garage sales are a favorite summer activity of mine and they always have been. The simple joys of finding treasures or projects makes it fun, and you never know what you’re going to bring home. We liked them as young kids and I can remember some of our favorite finds still. I think the door alarms with the red laser were a favorite for years. We paid two dollars for those and got a lot way more than two dollars worth of entertainment from them.
As an activity it is really easy to moderate the time by going to a bunch or a few. You can usually drive by slowly and be able to discern if it’s one you want to use the energy to get out and look or not. Moderating money is very easy and the joy of ending up at a garage sale with someone who is your pants size and has similar taste is like happening upon Gold. Back when I worked, it was basically like Christmas to find work clothes in my size because one to two dollars is my favorite price for work pants!
My official expert (self-proclaimed) tips:
- Don’t take more money than what you want to spend, and stop first to break the cash down to smaller bills since most people don’t have an entire cash drawer.
- Many areas have a social media group with posted garage sales. There are also a few different apps you can download and check out before going. Do a quick search to see if you can compile some addresses and make somewhat of a game plan so you don’t drive in endless circles. (Yes Tom, I realize that I drove in circles today).
- Don’t leave the house without water. You might as well throw a granola bar or a few crackers in your car too.
- Keep in mind that almost everything can be spray painted: plastic, wood, and metal. Basically it’s all about shape and size since color can be changed fairly easily.
- Step aside and use your phone to check the price of a specific antique or vintage item on ebay before buying or offering a lower price.
- Never travel without hand sanitizer. A few weeks ago a friend and I realized it may be considered rude to instantly sanitize your hands upon getting back in the vehicle in eyesight of the home owners. Perhaps pull forward a block and then sanitize to avoid stares and angry glares.
- Yes, the wealthier neighborhoods usually have nicer items and name brand clothing.
- Always wash all linens or clothing before using or wearing any of it. Same rule as with thrift stores, don’t buy under garments of any sort.
Avoiding being murdered:
- Do not go inside someone’s house to use their bathroom even if you want to try something on. It either has to be worth the gamble for you to spend two dollars on it or not, but we don’t go in stranger’s houses, even if they offer us candy in the basement.
- Don’t go alone- offer to buy coffee and who could resist a morning looking at old junk with you?
- If you show up somewhere and it’s clear there is a heated argument going on, you can go ahead and skip it. After all, the paperwork of being a witness will take up most of your garage sale time anyways.
- Listen to your gut. Always listen to your gut. Today we ignored our instincts and I’m fairly certain that we narrowly avoided death. Let me share our near-death experience.
Today while garage sale-ing we saw a sign for an estate sale in a somewhat rural area. Estate sales, as opposed to garage sales, generally mean that you can walk through each room of the house and most everything is for sale. As we arrived we noticed we were the only shoppers there and that there was no other residence in sight. I saw two older gentleman standing down the property a bit. As we got out, I did my best long distance confused motion and he yelled, ‘You can go through all of the buildings, and the house.’
As we looked around we realized there were several outbuildings, a very old farm house, a trailer, a barn or two and a large shop area. We counted at least eight different outbuildings and sheds. Here is a picture so that you can get a good idea of the scene of our almost murdering.
Notice how remote this area is? It’s definitely a ‘no one can hear our screams’ type of place. That was a clue.
The first shed/storage area that we walked through could only be described as a bicycle chop shop. Perhaps they have been collecting pieces and parts since they moved into that green house when it was brand new, which I imagine was around 100 years ago. I walked inside and Tom came in behind me and said that there was a woman standing in the window of the trailer watching us closely. When I came out I saw the woman he was referring to.
As we continued walking through the building there were several suspicious murderous trap door looking places, as well as suspicious drains and hooks and so many other welcoming and comforting things. Like, hey, check out this super cool chainsaw. I am pretty sure it was used in the Texas chainsaw massacre.
Here is another room.
This next picture is terrifying. There is really no way to prepare yourself.
I think this was about clue #237 that we shouldn’t be there. I’ll be honest, neither Tom nor I was brave enough to go inside the trailer part of the house and the main reason was that we were pretty sure the lady we saw through the window would not be in there.
By the time we got to the car, we were fully expecting that the engine wouldn’t turn on as we were basically walking through the plot of a scary movie.
We survived, but you should follow your instincts rather than trying to power through like we did.
If you don’t get murdered though, sometimes you can find some really great buys! Here are just a few of my favorite purchases this year.
I love the little watering can fountain that I got for 4 or 5 dollars. I realize I probably overpaid, but I thought it was super cute and all the pieces were there.
I got this rocker yesterday for 25 and yes, I could have maybe got it for lower, but it is in perfect shape and I’ve seen it listed online at varying prices from 150 to 300. I feel pretty good about my 25.
That cute little side table with the faux brick on top and on the shelf was a grand total of 2 dollars; and I couldn’t buy the lumber for even close to that.
Lastly, the ridiculous book How to Survive a Garden Gnome Attack makes me giggle. I only read enough to see that it warns of crop circles and that made my day. I paid a whole 75 cents for it.
I think it’s a pretty happy space.