Antique Junk Drawer

Garage Sales

This past weekend was our annual neighborhood garage sale. I like garage sales, but with a three-year-old in tow, I don’t go to very many. The effort of lugging a toddler around, getting him in and out of a car seat and keeping him out of stuff and/or running off trumps the possibility of finding an original Declaration of Independence which I would probably just toss in the trash after I let Sean play with it for a few days.

Garage sales, much like trips to Wal-Mart, are interesting studies in humanity and when you go to your neighbor’s garage sale, it’s somewhat less interesting and just weird. It’s like peeking in someone’s window. Yet we do it anyway.

Saturday morning in North Texas was the perfect day for a garage sale. It was sunny and clear and about 75 degrees. So we loaded up Sean in his wagon and set off to see what and whom we could see. When I told Sean that we were going to some garage sales and that maybe we could find some toys to buy, without missing a beat he offered, “Yeah, or maybe some books!” See why it’s hard to not indulge him?

The first place we stopped was at the house of a friend of mine. Carol had her husband’s motorcycle sitting out front with a price of $14,500. I would have gotten it for Antique Daddy as a companion for his other motorcycle that sits in his mother’s garage going on 25 years now, but I couldn’t talk Carol down to the $80 I had in my pocket which is what I think motorcycles in general are worth. And just because Carol was also selling Tim’s golf clubs and a bunch of his clothes probably isn’t any reason to start a rumor. Although I didn’t see Tim anywhere. Sean picked out a 1950s children’s book and a pocket version of a New Testament, which I thought was unusual because he usually prefers to read the Greek version of the New Testament. Carol wouldn’t allow us to pay for the books because a) she is so very kind and/or b) to get rid of us. So we thanked her and continued on our adventure.

The next stop was our friend’s house that we like to use as the local Emergency Room. They were kind of doing a combined sale with the people next door. Between the two families there are six kids and so they had a lot of stuff. In spite of the abundance of toys, at this stop, Sean only wanted to buy a box of lemon flavored Girl Scout cookies and once again, we tried to pay but were denied. Apparently our neighbors think we are indigent, a reputation we like to cultivate.

Aside: Darn those Girl Scouts and their delicious lemon cookies! Darn them all to heck!

As we went from house to house, we found that some people were friendly and enjoyed the interaction and others acted like we were from the wrong side of the tracks and could barely bring themselves to speak to us. Some had tons of fun stuff, others had teeny tiny tables of junk and I wondered why they would even bother. Some wanted to just give stuff away, others had inflated notions about the value of their crap stuff. Nonetheless, we got out and about and met some of our neighbors and it was fun.

At the end of the day, Sean spent $7 and got a Lego’s table which included a giant box of Lego’s (because the 14 million Lego’s we currently have are just not enough). He also got a backpack full of Lincoln logs and a nifty little toy tool kit. I got two just-like-new companion tapestries for $50 which look as though they were custom made for my house.

Do you garage sale? If so, what’s the coolest thing you ever bought? Me first: Last year I got two St. John outfits, just my size, tags still on, for $1 each.

39 thoughts on “Garage Sales

  1. I do garage sale, though I’m a random shopper – I don’t get out the paper the day before and plot my route or anything. My favorite buy is one of those ginormous flat plastic flexible cutting boards for your cabinet. I’ve always wanted one to roll dumplings out on and this was only a .25 as opposed to the 9.95 tv offer. I’m quite the garage salesman apparently when I want to be. I talked a guy into buying 5 10 lb bags of quickcrete one day at our garage sale.

  2. Does Salvation Army count? I can’t remember anything from a garage sale right now, although I know I’ve found treasures. My dining room set is a great Ethan Allen Pine table that I bought for $75.00. I later found 4 Ethan Allen chairs to match at a second hand store. I love treasure hunting.
    LNB (happy wonderer)
    P.S. I love the way you express yourself in your posts. I read your post about your son and his grandma to my husband through tears and he teared up, too.

  3. Sigh! (Can you sigh in an exclamatory way). I would love to go garage sale-ing…(saleing, saling, salling?) but my dear hubby can’t stand clutter. Sometimes he sits and stares at our house in the evenings all mopey and I say, “What’s wrong?”
    “We have too much stuff,” he says.

    See, I can’t do it. I wouldn’t be able to control myself and it would damage our relationship. The only garage sales I allow myself is our town-wide garage sale in the spring. (Our town is probably the size of your neighborhood, so it’s about the same thing, except there are church groups that are selling baked goods, too.)

    My children prefer the Greek version too, but what else can you do? =) They’re just so darn cute when they ask for things like books.

  4. We started cleaning out our garage yesterday. There are things in there that we have not seen since we moved in three years ago. We should have a garage sale, but I don’t want to go to the trouble. Goodwill loves us.
    I try to stay away from going garage sales because we already have too much stuff and do not need anyone else’s stuff.

  5. Oh, do you know how good our Abba is!!!!

    I once coveted my friend over this awesome sweater she had… it was a cream knit sweater and I always told her I wanted it..

    Well guess what…???!!! one day, I happened upon a little sale…it was a cosignment store… does that count?? and there was THAT sweater…who knows it could have my friends(which she should be ashamed if it was since she knew I loved it)…but it was only $5.00
    she had paid over $100 for hers…

    I had a Hallelujah moment outloud,,, people turned and looked at me in the store (who cares)— then I bought the baby….

    Ain’t God grand!!


  6. I love to look at garage sales! I know what you mean about dragging the kids along though. I can’t think about the best thing I’ve ever purchased though. I’ll have to keep thinking about that one.

  7. I’m like you. I would never have a garage sale. Too much trouble. Not too much trouble however to go to a garage sale, buy something and then haul it to Goodwill six months later!

  8. I just love to go to garage sales, don’t have much time to now with two kiddos under the age of 2!! Let’s see what was a great find….oh a milk glass lamp that I found for 2.00, replaced the shade and voila’ beautiful. By the way – Love your posts and your writing you really have a way with words, I laugh, I cry….. I got your link from visiting Frog and Toad are friends :0)

  9. Love it! And, I’m always hunting for vintage Holt Howard Pixieware decanters. Made in the late 50’s these little guys are highly collectible, but hard to find. If you ever see one for a few bucks, grab it! You can make a tidy sum selling it on eBay.

    Do an eBay search for Holt Howard Pixieware to see these little treasures.

  10. Last summer I found a child’s size set of golf clubs & bag for $3!!!!

    Several years ago I found the most comfortable cardigan (that I happen to have on at the moment–okay I live in it) and my winter coat.

    Love garage sales. Taking my boys used to be an adventure.

  11. I’ve been to a few garage sales in my day, but up until I read about your St. John’s outfits for the grand sum of $2.00, I didn’t believe there was anything I could find that would be worth dragging a toddler into the midst of someone else’s junk.

    I was wrong.

  12. Hmm. Most of my furniture over the years have been from garage sales or consignment shops, but nothing too memorable. I suppose my favorite find was a handmade, lacy tablecloth that I got for fifty cents at a church rummage sale. It was cheap enough that I could use it without feeling guilty if it got stained, but nice enough that I brought it for the punch table at a bridal shower and all my friends oohed and aahed over it and treated it like it was spun gold.

  13. No way! St. John’s outfits for a buck? I must be going to the wrong gargage sales. I’ve never found anything really, really good. A few outfits for the kids, but that’s about it.

  14. We’re big time garage sale’rs around here, though I’m more content to hand my mother some money and send her out to ferret out a good deal for me. The best garage sale find I ever got was one she found — it was one of those clear plastic storage bins, like you can slide under your bed? In it were 1,470 envelopes of all shapes, sizes, colors, and textures. For a stamper/card-maker like me, that was like finding the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow! And she got the container and all the envelopes for only $3.

  15. We used to say that our home was decorated in Early American Garage Sale. Now that we have been married over 25 years, I have only one piece that I have kept and still love. I paid $5 for an old record player chest that was painted black. There was no record player in it anymore. Just two doors that opened up in the front. Kind of a cabinet on stilts. I used it in our basement for crayons and coloring books, paints and play dough, etc, when the kids were growing up. I almost threw it in the trash when we moved cross country but brought it along. When we settled in I decided to strip the black paint off and it turned into a beautiful antique with incredibled detailed wood. Georgeous. It is in the middle of our family room now, and the one piece that everyone comments on when they see it for the first time. I love a garage sale!

  16. Oh, we’re BIG fans of garage sales. A local senior’s chapter has an amazing annual sale, which the kids look forward to ALL YEAR – our favorite score was a giant cardboard box containing:
    – a fisher price castle brand new in the box
    – a fisher price pirate ship brand new in the box
    – a used but still excellent fisher price town
    – and a wooden pipe holder.
    And all of my furniture is courtesy of yard sales, because we’re cheap.

  17. My daughter once found a sweater for $1 that she loved and wore to death. Other than that…. I just don’t seem to have the knack for garage “saling”. All I ever find is somebody else’s crummy dishes or well, crummy clothes. I have a friend who finds acutal antiques, but she gets up at and out the door by about 5 a.m. I find I’m just not that inspired.
    You did very well though. I’m proud of you!!

  18. Our most fun find actually came at an auction. This was before children in newlywed days, you must understand. They had 2 boxes of 1940’s bomb rations that had been sitting around this person’s house. Can you believe nobody wanted them?!? So we scored them for the minimum bid of $1. We took them home and over to the apartment of some other newlywed friends of ours. We had a blast opening up these packages, marveling at the chocolate that was designed to withstand temps over 180 or so degrees (and daring each other to take a bite– true chocoholic that I am, I did and lived to tell about it), wondering what the heck is in pemican anyway, imagining what might happen to a person who actually took a swig of the 50 year old water canisters,just imagining the things those boxes had seen while sitting around for 50 years, laughing… An entire evening’s entertainment for $1. Can’t beat it. Weird, I know.

  19. I have never been a fan of garage sales — you have to get up early to get the good stuff! Here in Florida, you just set anything you don’t want at the curb and someone will grab it within an hour (even absolute junk). My other thought is that Sean can never have too many Legos. My youngest two played with Legos into their teens (while hiding in the basement) and were really upset that I gave them away when we moved. My grandchildren now have huge collections of Legos and I had to buy a bunch for my house when the grands started arriving. Seven of the eight grands are boys, so Legos and Matchbox cars were staple toys in my playroom. Hey, you didn’t happen to find a Peemo Boat, did you?

  20. I love garage sales, but that whole thing of getting the toddler in and out of the car seat, and through the pickings in a seemly fashion, has curtailed my shopping. But I think my favorite thing of all was (is) a Griswold cast iron muffin tin – a beautiful piece of work and a wonderful muffin tin.

  21. My coolest find would have to be my kitchen valances. They had never been hung at all and still had the $9.50 per panel tags on them. I paid $.50 each! WOOHOO!!

  22. I don’t manage to get to garage sales all that often either… BUT I have just started going to op shops a bit. Last week I picked up a few bits and pieces… the best was a little keyboard for $3 they couldn’t tell me if it worked, but I thought Elisha would get at least $3 of fun out of it if it didn’t… but it does.

    This week, oh my goodness… I found a doll’s house for $25… have blogged some pictures. I’m so excited about this and can’t wait to restore it.

  23. Man last summer I hit pay dirt big time at a garage sale. It was an elderly woman and I was looking for a small purse. She went inside and came out with a Dooney Burke small rainbow zipper purse. She asked me if I liked it and I told her I loved it, why would you sell it? She said Honey Iam 80 years old and my daughter bought it for me for my birthday, it is a little young for me. I told her she could take it back and get the money back since the purse still had the 375 dollar price tag on it!!!! She said my daughter bought it in New York and it is just to much trouble. I said how much were you going to sell it for? She said I’ll let you have it for $10.00 !!! That was a deal.

  24. Sounds fun 🙂 I like garage sales, but haven’t gone to any for a long time, I end up spending more than I plan. My best deal was a crib with mattress for $35, and the lady threw in a bunch of onsies and receiving blankets for free.

  25. I love going to gawk at others stuff, But, I could never bring myself to buy anything. I don’t know why. I’m not a snotty gal, I guess I figure I have enough useless crap of my own.

  26. My best buy was a Little Tykes gym with slide and all, the BIG cube ones??? $15!!!!!!!!!! So awesome! I had to come home and get 3 teenage boys to get the thing home!
    My worst experience was in VA when I sent my kids back into the van while paying, and my 2yo got in the drivers seat and broke that safety mechanism that keeps your car from being able to shift without stepping on the brake, and drove into a parked car with a newborn locked inside.
    Nothing bad happened, unless you cound the shrieks from the mom who locked her child in the car without it running in the VA heat, but you know, we were both stupid. (in my defense, my kids almost always obeyed me, I had no reason to expect he would not get into his car seat like he always did up to that moment.)

  27. I love garage-saling. Haven’t been in years. Way back when, I used to go with my grandpa. We’d get up real early, get in his brown FORD truck and drive real slow with the classifieds in hand with the ones we wanted to visit circled and a map on the seat.

    Didn’t ever get anything real special, except I suppose the eight drawer cabinet that was painted pink and I later painted it blue for no good reason other than I could. I keep it in my guest closet with CDs and cassette tapes in the drawers.

    So really, the best “thing” I ever got out of garage sales are the memories of time spent with my grandpa.

  28. Once in Arkansas I went to a garage sale at an old house out in the country. I thought to myself as I drove up “they won’t have anything I want”. An older gentleman was in charge of the sale and his mother had recently died. I was politely looking around…giving myself the proper amount of time to show respect to his mother’s things before I left when out of the corner of my eye I spied two very heavy picture frames. When I turned them around I was enchanted. They were both 16″x20″ homemade frames of heavy wood with posterboard inside. The posterboad contained assorted fabric covered buttons and belt buckles in various sizes and the price was beside each item. His mother had been a seamstress . I asked him “how much?”. He tried to sell me on the strength of the frames and said “$2.00 each”. I said “are you sure?”. He said “is that too much?”. I said “no, that is fine”. I was fascinated with her work and thought they were beautiful. He was excited that I liked(loved) them so much. They are on the wall over my antique bed which has a crocheted spread on it. I have had so many compliments on those framed sewing samples.
    I have had a lot of dry runs with garage sales, but I hit the jackpot that day.

  29. I am in love with garage sales. I can’t wait until this summer when they start in my area. My greatest treasures are Little people toys. My childrens collection of these are too large, but I continue buying them. I was also happy to buy a double jogging stroller last summer and a huge tool table for my daughter for five bucks.

  30. I. Can’t. Do. Garage. Sales. I like the idea of them, but I just can’t make myself root through things to find what I want. Sigh. I’m so messed up as I love a good bargain.

    I will, however, be holding my first garage sale in the neighborhood garage sale, but that is only because we’re hoping to move and I don’t want to take most of the extra stuff with me. All I can say is Pray For Me! This will be a test of strength for me!

  31. I used to go to garage sales when my girls were little, but I don’t go anymore. Now I have a yearly garage sale to try to get rid of all the stuff we have accumulated over the years. My husband enjoys auctions. He once bought a box of junk for one dollar and found in it something that he ended up selling for $1500!!

  32. I have more luck at flea markets and thrift stores than garage sales, although I love going to garage sales. Usually my best finds are kids clothes and books. I don’t do much shopping at all these days, with a kindergartner, preschool and toddler! Too much work! But I had a garage sale last year and I managed to sell my DH’s huge space heater thing for $90, which was way more than he thought I’d get for it!

  33. There’s just so much! To name a few:

    A rare 1930s Skookum doll ($3)
    A first edition of Ellis Peters’ A Morbid Taste for Bones (25 cents)
    My daughter’s full size bed (minus mattress) and dresser ($45)
    Our laser printer (free)

    I don’t buy at yard sales often, but when I do they’re great deals! 🙂

  34. AM~
    Have you always been such a prolific writer? Or has being a mother sparked your gift?
    This post is a perfect example of your talent. Anyone that can make going to a garage sale interesting and funny is a winner in my book!

  35. I love Garage sales so much that Ive made a business out of it. What do i do? Well, I run estate sales and sell just about everything. I did a five year stint at a big auction house doing free appraisals and I had to go out on my own for all the business I get. How about that, I love my job!!!! I meet all sorts of people and I have the nicest furniture, all cheap finds(but good quality) I now work with some very big auctions and some little ones too.
    You may see me real soon in the newspaper and with any luck on TV too!
    Have fun doing your Garage Sailing!

  36. Best garage sale buy ever: At the infamous 127, 400 mile long garage sale, I once bought an old, pretty, very dirty bowl. I had to soak it for HOURS to get all the dirt out of the creases. After cleaning it up, it was so lovely, that I put it on eBay for sale, thinking I could maybe make a couple of dollars. I had only paid $1.50 for it after picking it out of a pile of dirty bowls and plates, so it wouldn’t take much for me to have a little profit. I sold the bowl for $2,700.00. Unbeknownst to me, it was an old, extremely rare antique bowl. I found out later it was actually worth a lot more than what I sold it for, but I was a happy girl! Can you imagine? I couldn’t. I’ll never forget it.

  37. I need help… This weekend I am planning on having my first garage sale. I have a ton of stuff to get rid of. But I am having a dilema
    on an antique oval wooden table,
    with beautiful detail on its legs.
    It alsmost looks like a Chipendale table.
    It is also missing the leaf.
    What is a good asking price?

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