I spent just over a week in Berkeley, California, visiting family. My parents are long-time yard sale shoppers (yes, it’s in my blood) so they were up for hitting a couple of sales as we made our way to do other things on the first Saturday I was there.
The first sale was a block sale right where a friend of mine used to live, but there was nothing good. The second was an estate sale on a street that I don’t think I’d ever been on before (sort of a rare thing considering I spent the first 26 years of my life there). The front room was very organized and full of relatively nice things. As you made your way through the house it sort of devolved into more and more chaos, culminating in the back patio where it looked like the house had just sort of vomited up its more sketchy contents.
At one point heard my mom call to my sister, “Hey, come in here!” Thinking there was something good (or at least photo-worthy), I followed. It turned out to be a framed picture of my sister’s old first-grade teacher on the dresser. It must have been her parents’ house. Nobody found anything, and on the way out the door I decided to look through the jewelry piled on the checkout table — I ended up finding a really nice pair of pink rhinestone earrings for $2.00.
We decided to hit more sales the following Saturday. I looked on craigslist and found a few in our neighborhood. As we were getting ready to leave the next door neighbors came over and asked my mom if she could move her car from in front of their house since they were having a yard sale! This seemed exciting, but unfortunately it was their “we-decided-not-to-have-a-third-kid” sale, so it had nothing but baby stuff.
I was really intrigued by this one elaborate ad titled “Crazed Collector’s Clean-Out!” There were photos showing a house full of packed bookcases and all kinds of random junk stuffed in various nooks and crannies. As we were driving to it both of my parents said, “I hope this isn’t that one sale that is always there.” Sure enough, they recognized the house as one that has a sale going on nearly every weekend.
There must have been rooms in the back where the people lived, because the whole front of the house was set up with sale stuff.
It was kind of like being in a mini-Urban Ore, since there was just so much stuff. The sale was on the sidewalk, in the front yard, inside the house, down both sides of the house, and continued in the back yard.
I looked around for a while, and saw a few interesting things, but there was nothing that really grabbed me. Plus, these perma-sales sort of annoy me on principle, so I wasn’t exactly predisposed to shop there. But most of the stuff just wasn’t all that great. And I didn’t need any plants, lumber, or sculptural metal.
We went to a few more sales where I found various things that I might have bought at home, but weren’t worth dragging back on the airplane, like framed paint-by-numbers and one lone Russell Wright bowl. If I had really loved them I would have picked them up, but my suitcases were already pretty crammed and I didn’t think I’d really be haunted by leaving any of it behind. The most amazing thing I had to pass up was a terrific green ’50s formica/chrome table, complete with three chairs. They were only asking $35! It was actually kind of good that I wasn’t at home, since I don’t have any place for it in my house anyway. But if it had been in Seattle, I would have been really tempted. Even my mom was trying to figure out if there was somewhere she could put it, but eventually we just walked away, figuring that someone in Berkeley was going to be really stoked by their table & chair score later that day.
The only sale where I bought something was one advertised as “Eclectic Vintage Freakout!” This was a fun sale, with the winning combination of interesting stuff, cheap prices, and nice people. I purchased the book “Gentleman of Leisure: A Year In The Life of a Pimp” for 25 cents, as a gift for my husband. (I just poked around online and discovered this book was recently reissued in a hardcover version. Who knew?) It was at this sale that I also saw one of the most fascinating items ever. I didn’t buy it, but I did take a picture, which I’ll share in the next post.
My mom did end up with a few items, and even though I hardly bought anything, I had a great time making the yard sale rounds in my old stomping grounds.