Posts Tagged ‘garage sale’

I prefer to be on the other side of a yard sale (garage sale, tag sale – whatever you call it). I buy. I discovered many years ago that most yard sales are hardly worth the time and effort when all you make is a measly $40 to $60. The *only* reason we decided to do a yard sale this year was the sheer amount of STUFF we had to get rid of. We decided to sell what we could and donate the rest to the Vietnam Veterans of America.

Last time I held a yard sale was in 2003 and we made around $350-$400. It was not fun, but we did meet a few neighbors and we made enough money to make it worth our time and effort.


This time, we made about $350. We had a lot of fun doing it. We met a lot of interesting people. We closed it down by 2:00PM on the hottest day of the weekend (today) and we were ready to be done. All that is left is to call the Veterans to come pick up what they will take and to trash the rest.

We did not put sentimental prices on anything. If we put it out in the yard, we had to be willing to part with it permanently, and for cheap. We gave a lot of stuff away.

The surprise of the day was on Friday when a good and dear friend wandered up to the house. He’d read the ad on Craigslist, but he had no idea who lived here. We had a wonderful mini-reunion and I sent him home with the antique autoharp that belonged to my older daughter. Sorry, Arwen, but we know you’ll never collect it and now it has a home in the hands of a very fine furniture refinisher and musician.

Here is how the sale went: on Thursday evening we set up.

A car pulled up to the mailbox and our neighbor leaned out of his window. “Hey… you really have a lot of junk!” He came by later when he was walking his dog and bought some items from us in the dark. $20.

Sue, the Koren neighbor across the street, grabbed all my narrow-mouth canning jars (I kept the wide mouth jars). She paid me $3 plus two jars of her homemade jam. I don’t understand half of what she says, but I know one is apple and the other is blueberry, and there’s no sugar in them.

Friday started slow and we despaired. Maybe it was too hot. Maybe my signs fell down. Then people started coming, just one or two at a time. Sue, the Korean neighbor, came over several times just to visit and talk. She’s lonely because her husband sleeps days. She’s hysterical. I can tell you a lot about her, and I only grasp half of what she says because her English is very lacking. My friend, Diane, came over to add to our stack of things for sale, and she ended up staying until we quit. How fun is that!


Saturday started even slower. The big neighborhood sale down the hill from us had all the traffic, so all we could do was sit around and twiddle our thumbs. Chrystal and Brian came over to help and I am sure they felt pretty useless most of the day. I was selling all the little kid toys and toddler chairs, plus Tickle Me Elmo™. I figured $5 was a good asking priice for a toy that never dies, has hardly been used, and which Chrystal hated.

Never have your kids come help with a yard sale! Chrystal gave Elmo™ to the cutest toddler girl from up the street from us. It was so sweet, but I didn’t get my five bucks.

Seriously, this family walked over just as I was getting Harvey out to go to the dog groomer’s. The toddler wanted to pet the puppy as soon as she saw him. Then she focused on Elmo™. Her mom is the woman on the corner with a horse trailer – hmmmm. She has a QH, boards him in town, and loves all things horses. I love this woman.

We met the neighbors who live on the other side of Virginia when they bought the saw blades that Don once told me he was going to make knives out of. The young man asked, when he handed us the money, “You don’t mind if I make knife blades out of them?” HA!

Sue brought us a big pan of pot stickers for lunch. Oh-my-goodness-heaven-is-real! Pig Out!

We closed shop at 5PM and started the barbecue. At 5:45, right before the ribs were done, a car stopped. Are you serious? Everything was covered up, the signs say 9-5…

Two women got out, a mother-daughter pair. the daughter (20-something) wanted the top to the aquarium (I kept the aquarium because I have plants growing in it – this was the lights & slider part). We plugged it in, but the lights didn’t work. She still wanted it. I told her it was free, she gave me a dollar.

The mother picked out some things and made the oddest comment when her daughter skipped back to the car: “At least she’s wearing underwear”. Um. OK.

The woman from Tulsa was a favorite. She wanted the Abalone shell with all the other seashells in it. I told her it was free. I’d looked at it earlier and felt a nudge to just give it away, and there she was – desperate to have it. She had money, that wasn’t the issue. She wanted it to take home to her other daughter for their yard. She would have paid any price, I think.

She dug through the box of cassette tapes that I accidentally put in the yard sale and picked out two. I would have given them to her, but I felt she’d be offended to not pay some price, so I charged her 25 cents a piece. Everyone abandoned us while they helped with some other customer, and I ended up having this wonderful conversation with her. She’s a Christian, she had four daughters and lost one twelve years ago (eyes filled up with water). I told her I understood. I don’t know how it is for other folks, but I assume it is the same in different faiths: you meet someone who shares your faith and you just know they are on the same “wave length” as you are. We were on that same “wave length” and I bless God that I got to meet her for a brief moment.


Another favorite was an Hispanic woman who really wanted the shoes I had for sale, but she wears a size 8 and they are all 7-7.5 shoes. All new because I bought them, wore them once, and realized they really hurt my feet because of my bunions or the straps or… She knew the value of them & was amazed at my price ($3/pair). That’s beside the point. She bought something, but commented on the hydrangea (center of the pic above). She loved it. Where did I get it? It was her mother’s favorite flower & her mother had several in Mexico.

I cut her two blooms and put them in a vase I was selling and gave them to her. The moment was just right and I was so blessed to see her eyes open with joy and gratefulness. “My mother’s favorite flowers…”


Today was the last day. It was predicted to get into the high nineties. We planned to close shop at 2. No one came before 11AM. We were about to write today off entirely, but the family from Juneau, Alaska came. They’d just moved back here (he’s from here) with their teenagers and two adopted little ones. She’s a teacher at a Montessori school. They really looked at the Camp Chef Cookstove with the barbecue, griddle, and Wok base. $150.

Don tried to sell it to a Boy Scout Troop for $100, but they claimed they didn’t have the money. We’ve used the heck out of this back when we had the F-250 and we could haul the kitchen sink with us camping. Once we had to down-size, the stove became much too big to haul with us. The Camp Chef Dutch Oven table next to it was a freebie to us and has never been used, but they weren’t interested in that. And the $150 on the stove was a bit too much for them, but they gave us their phone number just in case we did not sell it and they could convince the school that it was a good investment.

Meanwhile, the kids found the free toys. The little girl took all the noise-making tools: hammer, saw, measuring tape, wrench. They say things like “You nailed it!”. Obnoxious Grandma toys that my grandsons loved when they were still little and lived nearby. The little boy found the jeep and zoo animal set (he paid me $0.50 because his mom said one free toy was enough – darn!).

I tried to give a bunch of free toys away to a little boy later, but he zeroed in on the collector semi truck instead and paid me $0.50. His older sister, however, had no qualms. “Even the scooter is free?” If it’s on the canvas, it’s free. I don’t think Chrystal really used the scooter.

Next thing I knew, a 13 year old girl was scooting down the street and making a U-turn. That girl knew how to ride it and was thrilled beyond words to have it.

You’d think that would be the score of the day: the joy on kids’ faces – right?

Yes. And no – Montessori school people came back with all the cash they had on hand: $59. Would we take it?

The stove went to a good cause and a good family.


They also took the dinner bell. My neighbor, Bill, gave it to me as a joke when we lived in the country. It’s LOUD. He said I could use it as a dinner bell. It’s been buried in the garage for over 10 years. Montessori family lives in the country with a couple of acres…

While we only made $350 (mostly because we kept giving away stuff), I feel so blessed. We have great neighbors, we were able to make small children smile, treasured items went to good homes, and I got to meet the lady from Tulsa. I don’t plan on having another yard sale EVER.

Thank you to all who helped: Sue, across the street who cannot speak English and who has an infectious giggle (and is an awesome cook); Diane, who made $10 but spent more for her husband; Chrystal and Brian; and all the neighbors who introduced themselves, even if they didn’t buy anything.

P.S. Harvey looks like a Dalmatian again. Tomorrow is supposed to hit triple digits. He’s a very happy dog.


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I think we have an addiction.


We just cleaned out our shed and garage in preparation for a decluttering yard sale next weekend. I could not believe the collection of raw and finished walking sticks we own. These are the ones that were inside the garage and do not include the ones already in the house or in my studio. Mahogany, juniper, pine, fir, yew. We either have an addiction or the very fine starts of an at-home business making walking sticks. We just need to market them.

But not in the yard sale. These aren’t going into the yard sale.


The idea was to clear out the garage so we could park the VW Van inside of it.


Uh – not much room to spare.


Backed in, at least one could open the doors. But even cleaned out, the garage is too small for the van *and* the rest of the stuff we still have to put back in to it.


I did find this. I have been searching for this for 12 years. My friend, Mike, gave it to me when we moved away from Baker City in 1980. It’s one half of a pair of old intercoms from a local (defunct) business in Baker City. When we moved into this house, a lot of things got stored in the garage and there they have stayed, hidden. I have actively searched for this item several times over the years, but the garage clutter kept it hidden from me!

It is in the house now. I can keep in touch with Mike & Janie once again. 🙂


When did we accumulate all of this stuff? Float tube, swimming pool, a 1980’s Mother Earth Magazine food dehydrater, the solid oak high chair that we thought our kids would want as an heirloom… Extra studded tires that don’t fit any vehicle we own.


The white cabinet has been hauled around since we lived on Birch Street in Baker City – 35 years! We have three sets of tire chains that don’t fit any vehicle we currently own. Extra canning supplies, some bike parts, fishing gear, lots of old camp gear…


A temporary dog kennel (still in the box), router and table (router not pictured), garden junk…


A big dog kennel that is still in the box (we got panels for the same size kennel for free after we purchased this).


A hydraulic paper cutter that Don “just had to have” at some school clearance sale.


The cooler is full of rocks. I won’t tell you how many buckets and bags and boxes of rocks we found. The chair is one of a pair we purchased at an auction in Haines, Oregon, shortly after we were married. We had no other furniture.


The second chair we bought, a smoker, the parakeet cage. Outdoor toys for grandchildren who moved away and got big.


Pails of paint left by the person who sold the house to us in 2002. Really? We need these *why*? Four were dried up inside, these five are still liquid.


Cushions to lawn chairs that broke and have been replaced.


A box of toys I bought at yard sales for my grandkids before they moved away. Tickle Me Elmo™ is in there somewhere, too. We won’t part with the Legos™, but Elmo is finally going away…


Toddle chairs and eating trays. The kids will be grown tall and lanky before we see them again and we have no need for these items! They were all second-hand, anyway.


I’ll sell some of my overstock in the china department, too. 007

I started collecting this when I was 21, but I never collected an entire set and I inherited a nice set, plus my husband bought me a nice set – so it goes.


So much stuff and it won’t seem like we de-cluttered at all!

We’re pricing everything by what *we* would pay at a yard sale and posting a sign that will read: “Don’t like our price? Make us an offer we can’t refuse!”

Everything must go. We won’t do this again for another ten years.


By then, these should all be carved, oiled, and ready to market.

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My Saturday began with a dream about living in a huge old house with my parents, my husband, and other characters that I can no longer recall. The house was fitted for an artist, with nooks, crannies, storage, and tons of “junk”. Organized junk, I might add. I remember sorting the junk in my dream: rocks here, ceramic elephants there, odd pieces of re-bar and metal, frames, and so on.

I decided to go garage sale shopping after I took Harvey for a walk, thinking I could get an early start to that Heavenly House full of junk.

I didn’t pick up very much – two sales were run by folks who understand the art of dickering, one was run by people who were not open to dickering, and the final was a fund raiser for two college girls who have been selected to go to Italy for some softball tournament (I confess: I only read half of the sign). I opted not to dicker at that one because it was a fund raiser, the people were nice, and they already had rock-bottom prices on their items.

I do not like garage sales where the seller is not open to dickering and will often leave empty-handed just because the person was unwilling to dicker over the price. So I low-balled the price? Come back with an offer. I can promise you that if I offered low, it’s because your item is over-priced and if you counter, we can come to terms. Besides, what’s the fun in a garage sale where every thing is black and white?


Here’s the haul: 2 chairs for fairy houses, four “project dowels” and a number of little blue drawer pulls – from garage sale #1 where the woman said, “Oh… Just give me five for everything.”

One little bird cage from the garage sale that wouldn’t budge in their prices (I paid too much for the candle holder, but I have plans for it)

One step stool and a ceramic bird from the third sale. We dickered, she took my offer. 🙂

Four pretty picture frames and a blanket for my car from the last sale.


I have some photos of my children that are framed in those cheap gold metal frames. I am slowly changing up all the frames to something prettier & loner lasting. The little pulls are plastic and look sort of like church bells for a fairy house – or some crafty project. I’ll think of something.


The chairs are “perfect” for some future project. The bird cage will end up hanging outside – perhaps with a ceramic bird inside, or a small captive fairy.


The little ceramic bird house was not a garage sale find. I stopped at the local Farmer’s Market for fresh produce. The artist who was selling these was having a half-price sale, and I love to support local artists. It is made to fit on the end of a dowel and already has a home in my garden.


This bird is so cute! I have no idea where the permanent home is going to be, but it will be in my garden. I love the dorky face.


Lassie came from the first garage sale. I was thinking of repainting it to look like a Setter, but the ears are all wrong.


I think I will just repaint it as a collie, but I’ll use colors that are truer. Then I will resell it for more money. We will have to have our own garage sale this summer. Maybe Lassie will be ready in time. I think I can make a small profit on her. 🙂


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Yard Sales Finds

I have begun to think yard sales this summer are a bust. I have only been to a few before today and it seems that people put too much value in the stuff they want to get rid of. So I haven’t purchased very much.

I am also maxed out in the junk department and I really need to purge my home before I start adding too many more trinkets. That has a tendency to put the kabosh on shopping for junk, too. Where am I going to put it? What am I going to do with it?

A couple of weeks ago, I picked up this vase for twenty-five cents. I am a sucker for funky vases and this one is funky.

Funky, but utilitarian. Now that’s the kind of bargain I like to find when I’m out “shopping” other people’s junk.

There’s a story behind Captain Jack here. I have a couple Internet friends who are in love with Johnny Depp. And this (cheap) (but excellent condition) poster made me think of the pair of them. I still have to package it and ship it, but it is going to one very pleased Internet friend in the very near future.

I bought this darling blouse last weekend. Paid a dollar for it.

After I got it home and really looked at it, I found this. Actually, there are two red greasy stains like that on it. Why do people sell the stuff they know is stained? Just throw it away or make a rag out of it!

I liked that blouse enough that I decided to try dyeing it the same color as the little stains.

New life! I’ll get a little bit of wear out of it for my dollar + RIT dye.

Today was the big “McLoughlin Historic Neighborhood Garage Sale” which is a sweet small town event where many of the neighbors in the older part of Oregon City (the oldest city on the West Coast, by the way) sell their stuff. There’s a traveling antique dealer who sets out all the stuff he couldn’t sell on the road, a church that throws a rummage sale, and a myriad of folks who just want to get in on the fun and make a few bucks. The sales tend to be clustered together, so it is best to park your car and wear comfortable shoes. You can walk five or six blocks and circle around, return to your car and move to the next cluster. That way, if you buy something bulky your car is never too far away.

One busy street slices through the neighborhood, but in Oregon City drivers are polite: when a pedestrian steps off the curb, everyone stops. Most of the time, anyway. It’s a small town and folks are friendly.

I did find a few things today that I wanted enough to pay the prices asked.

The tiles came from one sale. I have no idea what I will use them for, but they were cheap and I know I will use them. I will probably use them as pavers in one of my garden beds.

But the plant stand… I went out looking for one. I have a little project in mind. I wasn’t actually picturing a wrought iron plant stand. This one had a big, ugly vintage 1960’s planter sitting lopsided in it. And a price tag of $15. I told the seller (that antique dealer I mentioned) that I did not want the planter.

He said he’d sell the whole thing to me for $12 *if* I would take the planter, too.

I took the vintage ceramic planter. Remember that.

I also bought this cast iron bird from him. $5. About 6″ long. Not sure what it used to go on top of, but am very certain I will find a new use for it soon.

Some sort of use like this (I just put this together for the photo – the ceramic tiles are definitely not going to go there but the little bird feeder most certainly will go there).

I found this mirror at one sale ($3). The boots were at another sale ($5). The boots aren’t much until you remember that I have nifty little Faerietoes from Faerieworlds.

Those boots are perfect! And the vintage mirror? Well, I definitely have a place for the mirror – and a use.

But that was IT. All that walking, and that was my haul. I threw up my hands and went to the grocery store to get the next week’s installment of food. And on the way home from the grocery store, I said to myself, “Just ONE more stop…”

If you know me at all, you know what a great find this is! Hardbound. The entire set of Cornelia Funke’s Inkheart series plus a bonus book. $4. Plus, the two women running this yard sale were witty and well-read. We stood and critiqued a number of YA popular novels (Twilight, Hunger Games) and our insatiable need to read.

And I inquired about the little secretary dresser. $5. And they would help me load it.

I pulled forward (which involved double-parking because just as I was going to pull forward, someone else stopped at the yard sale and parked in the way).

Unfortunately, I had all the junk from all the other yard sales plus my groceries in my car – and the seats were up. I had to unload to lay the seats down in order to put the secretary in there. And that meant setting out the plant stand with the vintage 1960’s planter.

“Oh! You found a vintage planter!” shrieked one of the women in delight.

I left the planter with her.

I got the secretary in the house and up the stairs, but I have to clear a space for it in my studio. It’s a bit beat up, but quite functional. 39″ tall, 30″ wide, 16″ deep (before the desk is opened).

This is how it looks when the shelf is up. My mother had one (hers was more of a desk below) but my brother inherited that. I like this one, too.

And for the money I spent at the last yard sale – it was the very best one.

Now I am going to go sit out in the shade of the Hawthorne tree and reread Inkheart before I get started on the rest of the series. I may even watch the movie tonight.

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