Last Saturday was the day we’d been waiting for all summer: the annual Greenwood-Phinney neighborhood yard sale extravaganza. For at least a decade this has happened in late April and we’ve often referred to it as our “spring opener.” For some reason, this year they changed it to September. This might possibly have had something to do with the fact that last year’s sale day had snow … or it could’ve been for some other purpose. Whatever the reason, it really felt like the natural rhythm of the season had been thrown off. It didn’t help that they picked the same date as another neighborhood sale we always hit — Olympic Manor.
We figured we’d head out early, cruise through Phinney, and then maybe hit Oly Manor on the way back. We made a plan to meet up at 8:00. This might have been kind of stupid, since there weren’t actually any sales starting at 8:00. Not one! We used the time to get our pastry and coffee fix in early and hit the ATM, and then started stalking some of the sales on the way to the big she-bang. A few weren’t open yet, but as it got closer to 9:00 we found some that were ready. At our first stop Meghan found some cute ’50s framed drawings. I found (but did not purchase) this.
The next stop had listed vintage pottery. They weren’t kidding around! Great stuff, but they knew what they had. The prices seemed reasonable if you really collected that stuff, but kind of high for a random yard sale purchase.
The next sale had a very creative free box (or should I say freebarrow).
Everything in there was free, including the wheelbarrow itself. Karl pulled out a truly demented and wrong “Cat Lady” totebag. Note also the bizarro hand-knitted ’80s sweater, which wasn’t free (I think it was $3).
By this point it was about 8:45 and we were still on the outskirts of the actual neighborhood sale. We were driving along towards it when Karl suddenly yelled out “STOP!” Meghan and I had been too busy yakking to notice that we’d driven by a random sale. This sale that we hadn’t even known about turned out to be amazing — so amazing that it really deserves a whole post, so I will let Meghan cover the bases on that one later. Suffice it to say that we were there for over 45 minutes and had to go back home to empty out the trunk (AND back seat) when we finally got out of there. (Purely due to Karl and Meghan’s purchases. I don’t know if I’m somehow channeling Yard Sale Addict these days or what, but I bought nothing.)
After our drop-off, we beelined over to the Phinney sales. We noticed immediately that the usual crazed tangle of cars all trying to fit down narrow streets at the same time was missing. I’m not complaining about it being easier to get around, but it didn’t have the same manic vibe as usual. There seemed to be fewer sales, and definitely fewer shoppers. I think there is something about having it at the start of the season that really brings people out. We’re all itching to go to sales in April; by September, lots of people are kind of over it.
The first few sales we hit were really boring. Not even bad in an interesting way, just full of baby stuff, cheap kitchenware, and boring clothes. Well, some of them were boring — others were just hideous.
I’d printed out the official sale map, but we didn’t end up using it. There were enough sales that just meandering through the neighborhood seemed to work pretty well. A few sales even had extra signs up pointing the way.
We followed some bright pink signs to an estate sale. When we got there we weren’t sure if we were at the right sale — it just seemed like regular yard-sale stuff out front. Then we realized it stretched around the side of the house.
Most of the boxes were filled up with very crusty books. I managed to find a couple of choice items that weren’t too funkified. Both of them are from 1961 — isn’t that the year the first season of Mad Men takes place? They’d definitely fit right in: Stoned like a Statue: A Complete Survey of Drinking Cliches, Primitive, Classical, and Modern (with intro by Dean Martin!), and The Executive Coloring Book — completely un-colored-in. As I shelled out my buck twenty-five, the seller told me about how some relative had passed away fifteen years ago, and they’d just stored all his books in boxes until now. Like I couldn’t have figured that out from the stank.
Next we stumbled upon a sale where Karl knew one of the sellers! The sale stretched out through a carport and all through their yard. Sadly, there was not actually a dance hall.
I was excited to unearth an orange vintage bowling shirt hidden below a bunch of new-ish clothes. There was no design at all on the back, but the embroidered name was “Glenda,” so I was happy to cough up $2.
After stopping to get some water we decided to cruise over to Olympic Manor before calling it a day. It was already noon, so we figured everything would be pretty decimated at that point. Sure enough, we weren’t really feeling the vibe. We did stop at a house which seems to take part in the sale every year. Two years ago they had zillions of dolls. This year, there were only about a dozen. I was kind of amazed by these super-flaming ’80s Ken dolls (or Ken-like dolls — the hell if I know what they really are).
After just a few more fruitless stops, we decided it was quitting time. The trunk wasn’t as full as it had been earlier from that one sale (which you’ll hear about soon!), but we did okay …