The house that crap built

Posted by Jenny in Junk In My Trunk, Sale Tales | 6 Comments

Garage sale signs

Regular guest star Leslie tipped us off that there was a neighborhood sale near where she lives in nearby Bellevue last weekend. We weren’t sure what to expect, since this area isn’t really known for killer sales (high percentages of baby stuff and newer boring items), but it was in a part of town with a lot of great midcentury modern architecture and we hoped that the good would outweigh the bad. Plus, we just felt like doing something different. We got there a little before the official starting time and saw tons of signs, but we stopped at the Official Map Dispensing Location to pick up the Official Map. (Which turned out to be quite helpful — even though there were tons of signs up, the streets around there are awfully crazy and windy and dead-endy.)

Garage sale maps

The first few sales were nothing special; newer crap like framed pictures and exercise machines, and one with “antiques” that were boring and overpriced. Then we hit one sale where an older woman was still bringing things out. Meghan grabbed a few items off a table where everything was priced at 50 cents — for that kind of price, you don’t need to be too picky. She got two vintage board games (Finance and Scribbage) and a well-preserved stuffing mix box, now full of little muffin tins. She later confessed that she really just wanted to take a picture of it, but figured for 50 cents she would just buy it. I’m sure it will end up in our next sale.

Mrs. Wright's Stuffing Mix

We dug through some jewelry and then Meghan hit the score of the day, digging out a vintage Bulova watch and two 1930’s class rings from a box of stuff the lady hadn’t quite finished putting out yet. I think she paid less than $20 for everything!

Nearby was this sale with a ton of new home decor items. I wondered what the deal was until I noticed a stack of business cards for an interior decorator. Meghan and I both almost purchased sheets here, then rejected them at the last minute when it turned out they were $5 per sheet (not per set).

Decorator's sale

At another sale Meghan unearthed a kids’ book called The House That Crack Built. She didn’t buy it, but we couldn’t stop talking about it as we made the rounds. Aside from being a little startled by the title, it just seemed out of place among the other more typical kids’ books at the well-to-do suburban house.

We kept seeing signs for a “MEGA SALE” and eventually found it after a few twists and turns. Really, once you got in the general vicinity there was no way you could miss this.

Patriotic sale signs

The stuff was spread out along a large driveway and again, seemed to be mostly new, with tons of framed prints for sale. I didn’t think there would be anything there I wanted, but I ended up picking up a 1950s Betty Crocker kids’ cookbook (with suitably retro recipes like molded jello concoctions, a.k.a. “Satan’s Salads“).

Patriotic sale

We kept going to sale after sale after sale, most of which were sadly pretty boring. Even at the coolest-looking houses, the stuff tended to be mundane. Many sales had lots of stuff, but mainly newer home-decor type items that you just knew no one was going to buy. It was one dud after another and at one point I leaned over to Meghan and said, “A lot of these sales make me feel like I’m at Ross.”

Though to be fair, it wasn’t all run-of-the-mill stuff. There was this heartfelt work of art, for instance.


After a long stretch of not buying anything, we went to a sale outside a community pool where we were each thrilled to purchase a donut, a bottle of water, and a small pile of 50 cent CDs. (That’s the price, not the artist.) Just as we were leaving, it started to rain, with huge big drops seeming to come out of nowhere. The people running the sale started freaking out all their stuff was spread around completely unsheltered at all (it had been nice earlier). As we pulled away I grabbed my camera to take a photo, which was sort of a bad idea because as I was rummaging around for it I spilled my opened bottle of water right into my lap. I was concerned that people would think that I’d peed in my pants, but Meghan assured me that it wasn’t all that noticeable. (Even if this wasn’t true, I appreciated it, because there wasn’t a damn thing I could do about it at that point and I wasn’t about to stop going to people’s sales.) After all that, it wasn’t even that great of a photo.

Rained out sale

The rain didn’t last long and we continued around the neighborhood, finding a few more things here and there: kids’ shoes, books, a Bodum tea pot, a crazy Hawaiian dress, and some Polaroid film (amusingly, the box showed a Polaroid of a man talking on a banana-phone). At one of the last sales we hit, a guy was selling crutches, and Meghan proceeded to tell him that you should never get rid of your crutches because that’s usually when something will happen and you will need them again. This thoroughly spooked him and I heard him say quietly to his wife, “Maybe we shouldn’t sell the crutches …” I should have just told him not to worry since it was really unlikely that anyone was going to come along and actually want to buy them.

As we drove away from this sale we noticed that their sign was bilingual. Probably just to be cute, since I didn’t see any roving bands of Japanese yard sale tourists (who surely would have understood “G-Sale” in any case).

Bilingual G-Sale Sign

We hit just about every sale on the map (over 40!) and then drove back to Seattle. What was really strange is that as we headed towards home, we went for two or three miles along busy streets and saw absolutely no yard sale signs. Closer to our houses we did find a couple, none of which were all that remarkable. So it seemed that we picked a good weekend to go off and explore new territory … not the most fruitful day ever, but not a bad haul either!

Junk In My Trunk 5-31-08

6 Responses to The house that crap built

  1. ismoyo says:

    hey there! love your blog, the stories and all the photos, not sure if i left a comment before, but just wanted to let you know i enjoy your thirfting adventures!
    Love the shoes in this score! The adult shoes and the little kids’ shoes, adorable!
    And you can’t go wrong with Sarah Vaughan.

  2. Maria says:

    what’s up with that CAMP CAMP book?

  3. Meghan says:

    It’s photos of people at camp from the 80’s. It’s just o.k. (great for a yard sale buy, but just o.k. for a full price book)

  4. Christine says:

    I love these blogs! I read every word and then envision what your homes might look like with all of this stuff hee hee. Probably like mine – very unique. I am currently collecting scorpion paper weights hee hee. Um, the creature, not the band. I love the trunk photos! OH, and polaroid film is less stable than regular film and usually won’t work properly if it’s more than a year expired. I learned that one the hard way. xoxo

  5. Monica says:

    Hey, we had a band of roving Japanese yard-sale tourists at our sale in suburbs of Minneapolis a few years ago. There were about 6 younger guys (ages late 20’s early 30’s – we don’t get many Japanese people at our sales here!) One guy bought a kitschy set of wooden drink coasters with “witty” sayings and pictures painted on them, probably from late ’50s/early 60’s. I had a hard time imagining him bringing them home to his wife – “Hey honey, look at the souvenir I bought you from Minnesota!”

  6. Jackie says:

    I wonder if that’s the Bodum tea pot I donated to the flea market over at the Norwegian nursing home. Brooklyn is a ways off but hey, you never know.