Hillbilly pickers and the smell from hell

Posted by Meghan in Junk In My Trunk, Sale Tales | 13 Comments

Before last Saturday, Jenny and I hadn’t been to sales in months … I don’t think that is 100% true, but nothing blogworthy. We have had some book reports planned, but that usually ends up being us talking about book reports vs. actually doing them.

In the morning my husband called to say that it was snowing in north Seattle — WHAT?!?! I called Jenny to belly-ache and also say that if we planned to hit any sales up north, we should re-think that. In the car we talked about the ads for the “everything-one-cent heavy smoker sale” (not on our list) and the “pet photographer estate sale” (definitely on our list). Jenny had a plan to get on the list for an estate sale, hit another sale nearby, get a baked good and be back at the estate sale right before it opened. All of this worked about exactly as planned.

The first sale was maybe good on Friday?

Outside of a moving sale

Or it was never good. I am not sure.

Doesn't look so good

Things we did not purchase

A woman was looking over all the CD’s and then singing songs from what she saw. Like Gloria Estefan’s song “Conga.” Great, lady! Thanks for getting one of the worst songs ever stuck in my head.

I loved this large sign that wouldn’t let you walk into the kitchen. I think I heard someone making breakfast.


And this tray (tray! tray!) cracked me up.


After about five minutes of polite chit-chat with the owner we left. I know what you are thinking — five whole minutes?! Hey, sometimes while standing in someone’s living room they start talking to you and you can’t get away.

Back at the estate sale there was a pretty decent line. We were numbers 19 and 20, so we ended up being in the back of the first group let inside. Nothing was priced. That is always a pain, since you might grab a whole ton of stuff just to hear them tell that everything is $20 each. Or maybe it’s $20 for everything you have. Who knows?

The house was cute and small, but something just seemed not right about the whole thing. Neither of us took any photos, it just felt too cramped. We both picked up a few items, but it just felt like someone had lived there very recently. Like the whole family had left and not packed a single item. Jenny and I paid and I just thought I would ask about what had happened there. I have been to a ton of sales in my life, but this one was odd. Not bad, but odd. The guy mumbled something about a teacher getting killed there by her boyfriend. EEEK! No wonder something felt a little off. We both felt very glad that we hadn’t taken photos and honestly nothing was really worthy of poking fun at.

Off to the pet photographer’s sale. The sale was listed as “The apartment renter had been a professional photographer whose specialty was family pets. She even took a picture of a Bengal Tiger that was a pet!” It also said she had “costume jewelry including dolphin items.” Um, okay.

When we pulled up, the apartment building had that college party feel. Jenny pointed out a Miller tall boy can on the steps leading to the apartment. I mean it is blocks from the university. The second we walked into the apartment, we were almost knocked down by the smell of 25 year old dog pee. It was the worst smelling sale I could imagine in my worst dreams. How the lovely woman running the sale could sit there is beyond me. In the one minute we were in there, she told us how the woman had lived there for 40 years with two dogs. How? I haven’t been that skeeved out by a sale in years. We barely even looked around, although Jenny did spot what appeared to be a complete set of “Murder, She Wrote” on VHS.

Luckily the next sale was only about 15 blocks away. Mild-mannered husband and wife selling her mothers item’s. The house was clean, no odd smells, really nothing remarkable at all. Maybe this day is turning around?!?

Millie, I presume

We found a display with some leftover “happy retirement” signs and an odd little diorama of the presidents arranged on styrofoam.

Have A Great Retirement

Presidential close-up

While in the basement I saw this wreath made of bread dough.

Awful wreath

Does anyone else remember this odd ’70s craze? I think it’s salt dough crafts and at some point I remember making christmas ornaments in like 1978. So, I called to Jenny “hey, look bread dough crafts!” She hightails it over to me, not hearing anything about “bread art” and whispers in my ear: “HILLBILLY PICKERS.” Let’s be clear here — no, the sale didn’t have some dude picking on a banjo! It was three people in the next room babbling about what good scores they’d just found in some in-bred-dumb-ass-speak. I am not making a judgement on anyone from the South, but I am making a judgement on fools.

Let me stop here a second and have a small tangent. Not everything in the entire world is valuable. Not everything old is “worth something.” Our culture of “American Pickers,” “Picker Sisters,” “Storage Wars” — whatever flavor of the month is on the idiot box — is starting to get on my fucking nerves. You don’t need to carry a fucking loupe and a flash light with you to yard sales. Yes, I get that you saw that on TV, but are you Frank Fritz? No. You aren’t.

So, after looking around a bit, I go into the room they are in and I see a very small closet about 15″ wide — enough for about 10 dresses. I start looking at the dresses that are all in dry cleaning bags. Let me start by saying that you can’t really even get into a closet that small with someone you know, but you do not get into a closet with a complete stranger at a sale and expect them to be cool to you. It’s like trying to look into the same box of records with someone. It’s just not done. So, I assert myself by blocking the hillbilly picker lady a bit with my body — thinking she will get the hint. Look, lady, you have been in this room for 15 minutes, it’s not my fucking fault that you didn’t notice the closet. When she wouldn’t move I just grabbed all of the dry cleaning bags and walked out of the room.

Jenny then finds a photo album and one of the dudes calls out, “Them’s family photos!” Really? You think? I am pretty sure that “them’s” isn’t a word, you toothless idiot. I felt the need to repeat that phrase for the next half hour.

Is this really what our entire day is going to be like? I need to go home and go back to bed. Jenny mirrors my thoughts by saying “Maybe this is like our groundhog day, we stuck our heads out and now we know we should go back to bed for six more weeks.”

Out last sale of the day had this odd feel of them running a design-blog sale. The stuff was cool, but it felt like they had taken some clue from Apartment Therapy and started a company selling “design elements” or something, mixed in with random normal items. Jenny was a little pissed that the ladies were selling Girl Scout cookies without a Girl Scout being present — I guess that is a “no-no” that I knew nothing about.

They did have some amazing (but expensive) kids’ costumes and I talked her down on a very large West German first-aid flag.

Vintage kiddie costumes

But the whole sale just reconfirmed that we needed to take our few purchases and call it a day.

Junk In My Trunk 2-25-12

More Items from Our Not-Very-Funny Catalog

Posted by Meghan in Book Report | 4 Comments

More Items from Our Catalog

How could a trying-to-be-tongue-in-cheek humor book making fun of ’80s L.L. Bean catalogs end up being so not funny?

Down East Roach Traps

And it’s supposed to be funny.

Artificial Emergency Dressing

It definitely hits the style of the L.L. Bean catalogs, which do sometimes tend to go off on a tangent about special virtues of Chamois Cloth or something and get pretty silly.

I remember seeing so many of these types of parody books – has the internet really spoiled me that much, is just lost on me now? If I had a chance to re-read the Preppy Handbook today, would I think it’s just as dumb? (Does anyone remember “Save an alligator, kill a preppy”?)

I picked this up at a sale the last time we went out. It must have been some sort of hit, since this is the second one in the series. I might have loved this book in the ’80s and I can understand why it’s cherished by some people … but maybe humor doesn’t always stand the test of time.

Radar Knife / Bird Seed Pate

Goth art and chili cook-offs

Posted by Jenny in Sale Tales | 3 Comments

We only hit a few sales last weekend and for a while I didn’t even think there would be enough for a blog post. The first two were too boring to even mention. The next was something listed as a “High Profile Estate Sale” — when we got there we couldn’t even find the place. I rechecked the listing and realized it wasn’t starting for fifteen minutes, but it seemed weird they didn’t even have a sign out. Finally we noticed a line of about twenty people standing by an apartment building tucked off the street … we decided that getting breakfast sounded like a better idea.

Rather than double back to find out what the hell “High Profile Estate Sale” even meant, we decided to hit another one which seemed to have potential. As we parked the car we noticed a guy walking down the street carrying a very large stuffed dog.

Dude with dog

The odd thing was, he was walking toward the sale — not coming from it. I don’t know where he got the dog. Maybe he carries it with him everywhere he goes.

Inside, this was about the first thing I saw.

Middle-aged White Guys

Followed by a box of buttons … most of which had something to do with chili.

Chili is my life

I guess the guy was heavily into chili cook-offs — his kitchen had chili recipes and posters from events he’d participated in. There were tons of books and a couple of boxes of records, sort of a mix of stuff — nothing I needed to own but some of the covers were entertaining.


Gambler's Life

I ended up digging a handful of buttons out of the box and we each picked up a couple of other things.

Next was a sale which just sounded odd. It had started on Friday, but on Saturday they posted a new ad, saying that new stuff had been added (including vintage clothes). And this:


They did not lie. Well, maybe they lied about the “amazing” part and the “ridiculously good prices” part, but definitely not the “goth” part.

Goth paintings

Can we get a close-up?

Chess battle ... for your soul

There were sculptures, too.

Goth sculptures

The sale was in the basement of the house. The vintage clothes were mostly unremarkable — the few things that were interesting were overpriced. There were two separate rooms filled up with books, tending heavily towards the sci-fi and fantasy. There were also some other things in there, like magazines, and calendars …

Boris Vallejo calendars

And this.

Heart with long arms and legs

Against all odds, we purchased a few things here, but nothing worthy of a trunk shot. Overall, the day was pretty much “meh”, but it’s January — and it wasn’t snowing — so I can’t really complain!

267 rabbit pelts … and snow

Posted by Jenny in Sale Tales | 6 Comments

Meghan forwarded me an email for an estate sale that listed a pretty typical mix of stuff: tools, antiques, furniture, jewelry … and “267 rabbit pelts in good condition.” That’s right, 267. Someone counted. So naturally, we decided to check it out.

We got there around 10:30 — it had opened at 10 and we were relieved that there was no line outside since it was extremely cold out. On our way to the door we passed two women walking away with piles of stuff. “Where are your rabbit pelts?” Meghan cracked, then took a closer look. “Oh, you really did buy some!” Sure enough, she had a couple of fluffy bits sticking out from the bottom of her pile. She told us she was going to make a skirt.

The house was sort of cramped and it was hard to move around, but we made our way upstairs, where there were two small bedrooms and a bathroom. One of them mostly had clothes and blankets, but also had a few oddball things. I’m pretty sure we’ve never encountered electric socks before. Apparently, they can be used to “obtain maximum satisfaction.”

Electric Socks

Meghan found a couple of items, including this crucifix — we made the obvious jokes about someone using it for a stash box.

Crucifix stash box

Out the window, we could see people digging through piles of stuff and going into the detached garage. We figured we’d hit that after we’d gone through the house.

The back yard

Moving on to the next room, what did we find but … PELTS!

More pelts

Lots of pelts!

Some of the 267 rabbit pelts

But not 267. This box only had 31.

31 pelts

I would guess I saw less than a hundred pelts altogether. Honestly, I felt a little ripped off. Though it was true that they were in good condition.

There wasn’t much else in that room. Meghan grabbed a couple of cool vintage patterns. I unearthed a stash of old internet CD-ROMs. I made a joke to Meghan about how she might want to get them, in case she needed 1000 free hours on AOL some day. These weren’t priced and I really wonder what they would have charged anyone crazy enough to want them.

1000 hours free!

Later, I noticed the address label listed a pet grooming company, with the same address of the sale. Does this explain anything about the pelts? Did 267 bunnies come in for grooming and never make it out alive? I doubt it, but it was a strange juxtaposition. Especially since I didn’t really see any evidence of pet grooming items at the rest of the sale. There were tons of books on crafting and jewelry-making, and some supplies, including a table full of attempts at “agate rock jewelry” … and this bag of googly-eyed polished rocks.

$5 bag of rocks with googly eyes

They also had these pirate bookends. Arrrrrrr!

Pirate bookends

The kitchen was a mess, with shelves of cookbooks. We were laughing about one that had a title I can’t remember now, but something kind of like “How To Stuff A Wild Tortilla” — it was trying really hard to make the idea of putting things in a tortilla seem exciting. There were boxes of Baggies that must have dated from the ’80s, and this plastic bottle of something called “Flame-Out.”

Dog, ducks, and Flame-Out

We also spotted two boxes of Hires flavoring for making DIY root beer.

It's High Time For Hires

I hadn’t found anything so while Meghan got in line to pay, I took another look upstairs. Uh, look what just happened!

And it's snowing

We had toyed with hitting a couple of other sales (even though they did not have any pelts) but decided we’d probably better just head home after a quick look at the garage. It had a nameplate on the door.

Mr. George

It took about 30 seconds to determine that there was nothing in there we wanted to buy — nor outside, where ancient lawnmowers and mystery items had been gathering dust and dirt for some time.

Around the back of the garage

As we left I couldn’t resist taking a picture of their poor little sign all covered with snow.

Estate sale sign in the snow

And thus ended our first day of hitting sales — well, a sale — in the new year!

“HOW TO” write a demented garage sale decorating book

Posted by Meghan in Book Report | 6 Comments

It’s been a while since I have done a book review, but then I saw this at my local thrift store. Why, it looks like a great gag gift for Jenny!

The Garage Sale Decorator's Bible

It’s the Garage Sale Decorator’s Bible, by Shelley Kincaid. First, note her expression on the cover – is she afraid her cat is going to attack her? Or, as my thrifting partner suggested, worried that some of her “fabulous finds” are about to fall down and kill her?

The decorator herself. And cat.

The Amazon reviews aren’t as amazing as the ones for Microwave for One by Sonia Allison, but they really should be.

Most of the projects have a “crafty” feeling that even my grandma would be turned off by.

Canopy with cat

And the drawings are pretty low rent.

Lace leg lampshade instructions

Here are some of her amazing “HOW TO’S”. There are many, many, MANY more …


Some of the crap in here is useful, like if you wanted to learn how to re-wire a lamp, but most folks are going to either ask at the hardware store or watch a “how-to” video online. I guess it makes a little more sense since this came out before youtube.com. The book was written in 1997, but it feels more like around 1988. Except that it does explain the Internet.

How the internet works

There is also a basically useless price guide listing the “retail,” “garage sale,” and “Shelley’s Best” prices for 33 pages’ worth of items, from Acrylic Nail Set to Z Brick.

She does have one thing right — the title of Chapter 1: GARAGE SALE~ING WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE!

Christmas crap

Posted by Jenny in Grab Bag | 5 Comments

I know we always slow down on posts at this time of year, but it’s been getting ridiculous. Nearly two months without a post! Though it hasn’t been quite that long without a sale. I have hit two separate estate sales, hoping to find either good stuff or interestingly bad stuff, but they were both a bust: decent but unexciting items, nothing breathtakingly awful, no frightening or hilarious encounters with other shoppers to report. Though possibly if Vintage Picker Ryan Gosling had gotten there early to snag the #1 spot, they might’ve been better.

But really, I think hibernating from sales is a good plan around this time of year. So let’s just revisit a few holiday-riffic gems from older days! Starting with this gem from our most Christmassy post ever, guest star Leslie’s romp through the 1978 Swiss Colony Christmas catalog.

Heavenly Hash

There was the time Meghan leaped into a gingerbread man yard sale sign to provide some comedy gold …

Gingerbread Meghan

… and the early ’40s Boeing magazine with an interesting take on the Christmas spirit.

Um ... Merry Christmas?

And naturally, we’ve seen (and occasionally purchased) mounds and mounds of Christmas crap at sales throughout the years.

Hello Santa


Games and Jesus


Gingerbread structure

Tree full of Santa hats

Still life with major award

Need a sweater?

Flea Sign with Santa

Owl ornaments

Junk In My Trunk 5-23-09

So may the spirit of peace be with you this holiday season.

Give Peace A Chance

And here’s to some amazing yard sale scores (and stories) in 2012!

(Le) Creuset for a bruisin’

Posted by Meghan in Junk In My Trunk, Sale Tales | 17 Comments

It’s been cold and drizzly. Not as cold as the East Coast, but enough to make you re-think going to yard sales. Unless you are a diehard or just really dumb, you are probably staying warm in your bed on a Saturday or maybe you are hitting some thrift stores. Not us –- we hit a whopping four rainy-day sales.

Karl and Jenny both came over and we pretty much just talked about what the sales might be like, trying to figure out which ones happened on Friday and whether Karl had hit them the day before. In the end we decided to hit our usual cafe for a baked good first. This led to a 10-minute conversation about them “phoning it in” these days, as far as the pastries go. Long story short -– we had very little faith in the sales even being half good.

Well, the first sale was intense. I don’t really know another way to put it. It was an estate sale in the garage and basement, filled with really old, really weird stuff.

Dolly shelf

Game Fish Cyclopedia

Mah jong tiles

By the time I went back to take photos people had really started to clean it out, but you can still sort of get the idea.

Shelf of estate sale goodies

Two odd products

Vases and planters

There was also a huge free pile out front.

Ginormous free pile

I don’t feel like I really can do the sale justice, but I picked up five 1920s vintage dresses, 3 1930s purses (2 arts and crafts style and one crocodile) and a ton of odds and ends. Karl picked up a large Le Creuset paella pan for $10, some other dishes, some vintage t-shirts, and a large stuffed crow (fake, but looks real). Jenny grabbed this crazy anatomy fold-out booklet poster thing from like the 1940s. I wasn’t paying that much attention because honestly, I really just needed to deal with what I had grabbed, Jenny even had to help me carry it all out. One woman told me she had filled her entire car with stuff. In the end I had spent $130. Ouch! I never spend that much at one sale.

The next sale we hit was what was advertised as a “mini estate sale” – whatever the hell that is.

Mini Estate Sale

They had all right stuff, but it felt like grandma had been sent to a home, so why not just dump everything on the floor and don’t price anything. That just made it feel really messy and like a yard sale tornado had hit it.

Bunch of junk

Cushions a-plenty

The kitchen was a little less chaotic, since they had just left most things on the shelves.

Household goods

For some reason they had about five of this item — a dog dish? It was very strange.

Faceless woman holding dog dish

I kept thinking I would find something, but it just seemed like a huge dud. Then I spotted a nice black medium Le Creuset cast iron pot with a lid, a frying pan, and then another smaller non-marked frying pan. I picked them all up and went to pay for them. The high school aged daughter said $7 for all. WTF, REALLY? I had a $10 bill in her hand before she could change her mind. Karl was standing behind me trying to purchase a walkman from the ’80s and this is when things started to get strange. All of a sudden I have a woman pretty aggressively telling me that those are her pans. Um, what?

Her: Those are my pans.
Me: I just purchased them.
Her: But those are mine.
Me: But I just paid for them. I saw them on the floor, I picked them up and now I have purchased them.
Her: I told your husband that those are MY PANS.
Me: Um, that is not my husband.
Her: Those are my pans!!!

I never raised my voice even when the woman was getting really loud about “her pans” — I explained what happened and even said “this isn’t worth getting so upset over and there is no need to yell at me.” Then the mother of the girl who sold me the pans comes up and wants to know what is going on. The woman was still getting upset, “I guess you have to hold onto whatever you want at this sale and I guess you can’t just leave stuff on the floor that you plan to buy” – well, yeah. That is every single sale I have ever been to, if you want something hold onto it or it probably won’t be there. The mother then asked her daughter how much she had charged me for the pans and started yelling at her that she should have charged me at least $5 each. Still a steal as far as I’m concerned, so I gave her the rest of the $15 and high-tailed it out of there. Jenny was outside and missed the whole thing, but Karl explained that he had tried to grab them a few moments earlier, and was told that she was buying them. I never heard any of that, but I guess it explains why she felt that she “told my husband.” It was one of the most aggressive conversations I have had at a sale and I can’t remember the last time someone yelled at me at a sale. But as far as I’m concerned, $5 Le Creuset is worth getting into a squabble over.

Our next stop was a country club sale. I have been to a few sales here, but it’s a mixed bag and this woman didn’t know what the heck she was doing and she wanted to have a long conversation every time we asked her about a price. She had nice stuff, but nothing amazing.

Country Club sale sign

Then we hit one last sale on the way home that I honestly don’t remember.

Nearly everything in the trunk was from that first estate sale …

Junk In My Trunk 10-29-11

Sale signs: two extremes

Posted by Meghan in Grab Bag | 3 Comments

Sometimes we see signs when we are just out walking. Maybe we missed the original sale because they only made a few signs, we knocked off early, or they never listed the sale on craigslist. Hard to think of someone having a sale and not listing on craigslist, but I guess some folks do.

This sign is wonderful, I walked by it near my work.

Moving sale with cute horsies

This is pure craftsmanship when it comes to moving sale signs. Hand painted, two ponies magazine cut-out, and the added-on part of cardboard at the bottom. You know they got bored after about four of these. I could have made like one of these and that would have been it.

The second one is the extreme opposite. I walked by this one last weekend in San Francisco. They didn’t even make signs, but just hijacked someone else’s sign from the month before.

Crossed-out sale sign

I love them both.