Confessions of a Junkie: What I Learned on the (Yard Sale) Streets
Ενημερώθηκε: 7 Ιαν 2020
There are dozens of reasons that motivate yard/garage sale shoppers to pull themselves out of bed on a Saturday morning. Motivation may be as simple as knowing your neighbor is selling his lawn mower at his garage sale - the weekend after yours broke.
There are shoppers in search of a broad category of items, such as furniture for the nearly adult son who is moving out soon - with his vehicles and his dog. Yes, you may read between the lines on that one.
An industrious yard-thrift shopper may be looking to replace a lost or broken item. That was my motivation when I searched yard sales to replace the glass plate from my microwave. (Easier than I thought it would be.)
For real thrifters though, the possibility of finding a treasure is enough to remove one's self from those cozy blankets.
For me, the reasons I uncharacteristically take the short and fast route getting up and out of the house on yard sale day are all of the above. In addition, there is the fact that I am a junkie - not the drug-addicted kind, but the kind addicted to the thrill of the junk hunt.
My love for junking is inherent from my father, and his father before him. My grandfather owned Gib’s Bike Shop. He sold new bikes, repaired and sold used bikes, and repaired bicycles and sold parts for the riders in his community. Where and how he scouted for parts I do not know but I imagine him being a barterer and a haggler. Make sure you read my short and sweet story about Grandpas bike shop in “This is Why. Why What? Why She Has a Vintage Addiction, of Course.”
My father may have learned to love junking from his dad. Like Gib, Gil repaired and sold bicycles. Fishing poles, cameras, and film projectors were other items he enjoyed restoring and putting into use.
Dad and Grandpa would be proud of my junking skills. I have a knack for finding valuable items at very low prices. Rarely do I make a purchase that ends up being a flop. By using my tips and tricks you too can turn your junking adventures into a prosperous investment of time and money while avoiding common purchase pitfalls.
Of the thrifting venues - thrift, antique, and consignment stores, auctions, flea markets, and yard sales - yard sales are my favorite. We’ll focus on the art of treasure hunting in that venue - master yard sale skills first.
1.Dress for success.
Wear sturdy shoes - you never know where and how a sale will be laid out. Wear layers of clothing you can shed as the morning warms. Have pockets for your car keys and money. Don’t haul your big purse. Keep your hands free.
2.Be Prepared to Buy.
Bring small bills and coins - don’t be the guy who haggles someone down to $5 and then asks if they can break a $100 bill.
3. Be Prepared to Carry.
Bring a couple of big canvas or nylon shopping bags for block sales, church or group sales. Carts and wagons work for street sales too.
4.Create a Junker's Tool Kit
Use a shoe box, tackle box, tote bag or a ziplock bag to stash an assortment of batteries, a standard light bulb, a magnifying glass, a jeweler’s loupe, your reading glasses, a silver polishing cloth, a tape measure, a notepad and pen, a flashlight,a small screwdriver set (for battery compartments), hand sanitizer and a pack of baby wipes. Pack an old blanket to cover furniture, car floor, seats, or trunk bed; a couple of cardboard boxes for containing smalls; and, some newspaper to wrap fragiles. Adding to the fun, you may find elements for your yard sale kit at yard sales!
5. Drive Your Largest Vehicle
Avoid the remorse of “I’d buy that if I had my (husband's) truck.” Junking in my Corvette is fun and looks good but sure does limit the size and quantity of my purchases.
Use newspaper ads, Craigslist, local market pages, google maps to create your driving route. Pay attention to opening and closing times. Generally, I start the furthest from home and work my way back.
8.Take Your Time
As I move throughout the sale I focus on each item, one at a time, not the full table. When I shop slowly I see treasures I may have overlooked in a scanning glance.
9. Inspect, Inspect, Inspect. Condition is Everything
Pay close attention to the quality and condition. Feel every edge of pottery and glass. Look at details.
Make sure an item it contains all parts, is in working order, has no broken pieces. 52 cards in a deck plus 2 jokers.
Use the items in your toolbox. Make sure you ask the seller if it is ok for you to inspect off the property if you need different lighting, or want to use a polishing cloth, gold test it, etc…
10. Check Again
If you have gathered up several items, take a moment to look again at your intended purchases - discern again - sometimes what I pick up first doesn’t make the final cut.
11. Buy it Now
If you love it or need it, buy it now if you can. You know your finances and limitations.
12. Stay on Budget
I stay on my self-imposed budget, but it is not easy. They know me so well that my family requests that I go to the grocery store the day before I yard sale. It could happen that my desire for a treasure makes me dip into the budget that provides their dinners next week. “What’s for dinner?" "An antique gold locket.”
13. Close the Deal
Haggle if you want. I don’t. When the items are fairly priced for their condition I am willing to pay the asking price. More frequently, I offer a flat price for a group of items. A fair offer is a good deal for the seller who is eager to off load as much as he can.
14. AVOID - DO NOT BUY
For health and safety reasons do not buy helmets, hats, wigs; clothing bedding or linens that cannot be washed; mattresses, pillows, undergarments; anything broken; make up; non-stick pans with damaged Teflon; car seats; and, baby items that do not have current consumer safety tags,
So there you have it, the secrets to my junking fun. Go out and treasure hunt.
Next time we'll talk thrift, consignment and antique store junking, The skills needed to shop there require some advanced experience.
After that, we'll promote ourselves to pros and take our adventures to a whole new level. Then, if you want to make some money from your junking habit, stay tuned.