Meghan and I headed out Saturday with a list of a ton of sales in our neighborhood. There was a fledgling annual neighborhood sale across town that we considered hitting, but since there were only about 15 sales on their map we decided to just stick close to home. (Sounds like it went pretty well! Maybe we’ll make it over there next year.)
So we set out to various sales nearby: block sales, moving sales, and one weird sale set up at a long-abandoned gas station, where Meghan quickly sniffed out the only two items worth buying (a vintage rhinestone jewelry set and a very old book which I can’t recall anything about now other than that it was cool — I think she paid $5 for both).
At one sale they had some pretty good books set out at $1 for hardcovers, 25 cents for paperbacks. I picked up a few things, then I saw Meghan had scooped up I Like You by Amy Sedaris! I have been meaning to buy this book (after flipping through a copy at Meghan’s house), and I think I made a little sad whimpering sound. Meghan said “You have it already, right?” When I shook my head no, she handed it over without thinking twice. Which is just one of the many reasons that she and I are Yard Sale Buddies 4 Life. The seller then asked us, “What is that book about, anyway?” There was an awkward pause while we both tried to think of a quick way to describe this somewhat indescribable book to someone who has never heard of it. Thankfully it was obvious she didn’t really care, as she continued on: “I have no idea what that is. It must be one of my boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend’s books.”
Long time readers may remember us mentioning a yard sale regular who is famous (to us) for leaving his car door open when he stops at yard sales. Guess who drove up at our next stop?
This sale was pretty good, and Meghan bought three cool old dolls from the seller, who was really friendly and appreciated our inane running commentary on her stuff. All I ended up getting were some stickers out of her free pile (including, for some reason, Billy Idol stickers, which I found really entertaining at the time). But she did have a lot of other intriguing items, like these delightful artifacts of the ’80s.
We stopped at a lot of other sales, many of which had “kooky” lines in their Craigslist ads — I’ve noticed this is becoming more common. I’m not opposed to this; how can I be when I generally use the word “craptastic” for my own yard sale ads (even though this once led to the newspaper rejecting my ad due to “profanity”)? But with more people trying to make their listing stand out, interesting descriptions are becoming less indicative of interesting sales.
One sale we stopped at had advertised a tiki bar, but since I didn’t see it there I asked if it had sold. They said, “Oh, it’s in the back.” I knew there was no way I was going to buy it, but I was disappointed not to get to at least check it out. This sale had a ton of high-end men’s clothing at the amazing price of 25 cents each (10 cents for ties). We each picked up a few items just because they were so ridiculously cheap.
Another sale had advertised “Wine Rack – it’s huge and in the shape of a cow!” Amazingly, this was 100% true. Not so amazingly, they hadn’t sold it yet. Meghan asked how one ends up owning such an item and they muttered some story about an auction at a winery some years ago. Unfortunately, I wussed out on taking a photo of it. (But if you can picture a huge cow-shaped wine rack, you are probably not at all far off from what it looked like.)
We pulled up to another sale and Meghan groaned, “They have their sale every year, and they bring out the same stuff!” But this ended up not being such a bad thing, since they at least had the decency to lower their prices … and Meghan picked up a Bauer pot for $5 that she’d passed on at $20 the year before.
We were feeling pretty good hitting so many sales and the weather was even starting to warm up. I decided we should head up northward to an area that can be pretty hit or miss. Our first stop was an estate sale that sounded huge. There were a few items spilling out into the front lawn and the first thing I saw was this.
The second thing I saw was this.
My interest was up, and sure enough there was a houseful … but their prices were nuts! Most things were at least twice as much as you would ever want to pay. And the thing that got me was that it was also crazy disorganized. I mean, it is one thing to charge high prices when you have taken the time to sort and arrange the items. But it’s hard for me to tolerate anything more than bargain basement prices when things look like this.
That’s not so bad, you say? Well, what about this?
It was really weird … there were drawers in a vanity table that had things in them that were priced (ridiculously — like $9 for a fairly ordinary scarf), then just shoved back into the drawer all willy nilly. And you could tell it wasn’t that it had been orderly earlier in the day and then shoppers had run rampant. It’s not like I only want to go to a sale if it is neat and tidy. (I think that should be obvious by now!) But you sort of expect a price break when you are dealing with the likes of this.
There were definitely some interesting things strewn around. It was one of those estate sales where you could tell the person saved everything (and really shouldn’t have). This was one of several Valentine’s candy boxes I saw.
After perusing the living room, kitchen, and bedrooms, I descended into the basement, which was packed full of items in varying stages of crustitude.
It was just jam packed, and after a while the mustiness in the air was getting to me. My hands were starting to feel icky from touching things that looked okay, but felt odd, like maybe they were in the process of slowly liquefying. One area which seemed better-preserved was a little closet full of handmade costumes. I would love to know what kind of wacky performances these were used for!
Meghan picked up a small pile of things and while she paid, I headed outside, gratefully breathing in the fresh air. When she got outside, she discovered that one old bedjacket she had purchased was actually discolored, but it had been impossible to see inside the poorly-lit house. Sad.
I felt like being at this sale kind of ended the good vibe we had going, so I was glad that the next estate sale we went to was refreshingly clean. Unfortunately, there was hardly anything left in it. The few things that were still there didn’t give me the impression we’d missed out on much. I mean, I am pretty sure I don’t need anything previously owned by the person who hung this over their bed.
We had a few more sales to hit in the area before calling it a day. One of them had advertised that they were having an “Economic Stimulus Garage Sale,” but remember what I said about oddball ads not necessarily meaning the sale was good? Yeah. I sort of liked these Sonny and Cher TV guides, but not enough to pay $5 each. I didn’t realize until looking at the photos that she was also attempting to sell contact lens solution and tampons. Yikes!
Meghan was flipping through the books and read the title of one aloud: “The Secret Lives of Teddy Bears.” The woman said, “Oh … it’s just photography of teddy bears.” As if Meghan had been thinking that in this book, the actual secrets of teddy bears’ lives would finally be revealed.
The last sale we went to had some good CDs, priced at $2 or $3 each — too high for just your average CDs (especially when we’d picked some up at three for a buck earlier), but the guy had really decent stuff. We each had a handful and I asked, “Are you going to give us a deal on these CDs?” He hemmed and hawed about how they were already priced, and if they didn’t sell for what he’d marked them, then he’d just keep them … “So, that would be a no,” I said, and cheerily paid what he was asking. Hey, sometimes you have to try.
It was definitely a little bit of everything today, but altogether not a bad haul!