Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Garage Sales/Estate Sales Tips, Advice and What Works for Me

 I've been enjoying visiting lots and lots of garage sales and estate sales this summer, and even a few church rummage sales. Most of them have been with my fellow treasure seeking buddy Chicken's Auntie.

While we have been out and about, one or the other of us will make a comment, or give a suggestion about shopping sales or something to do with the sales, and she often says, "you should blog about that."

When you are about to go out to hit some sales, how do you "prepare"? Or do you just drive out and visit what you find along the road?

I started garage sale shopping with my parents when I was a kid, but not to the extent that I now shop the sales.  When I was a kid, it was more of a hit or miss adventure. I don't remember my parents ever looking up the sales in the newspaper before heading out.

From the time my boys were little, I used to get the local paper on Wednesday, and go through all the ads, circling the ones that looked interesting. Then I'd pull out my local county map, and map out all the sales for Thursday (since the majority of sales in our area start on Thursdays).

I still check the paper, but now I check it online and print out one sheet with all the interesting sales on them. Then I visit Craigslist, estate and to see what other sales  might be interesting and in my area.

Then I compile my list and visit Mapquest and type in all the addresses (adding a new location for each new sale) then, while I'm looking at the Mapquest map of my travels, I rearrange them so that I start with the furthest one out and work my way back toward home. Sometimes I change the order if there is one particular sale that really pops out at me as being one that I HAVE to visit first.

Then on sale day, I type the address of the first sale into my GPS and so on and so on as we visit each of the sales.

My top 10 tips and advice for sellers...

     1. Have BIG, easy to read signs-preferably in bright colors, big letters and have them all be the same. There is nothing worse than following signs only to lose the trail, or get off track because you picked up a different sign (to another sale) along the way.
     2. Put a sign or balloons at the end of your driveway! I once went to a sub sale, and walked up to a house with tables set up in the garage (with just a tiny amount of stuff on them) and a sign leaning up against the garage  (that said Garage Sale")with the owner in the driveway-and he asked me what I was doing...when I said I was here for his garage sale, he said, "I'm not having a sale today." Boy, was I embarrassed!! It sure looked like he was having a sale! So now, I am VERY cautious before approaching a sale-if it isn't very clearly marked as a sale,I usually pass it by.
     3. Please price your items! It gets REALLY old to have to ask prices on every thing you are interested in! Sometimes I see something that I already have, and would just like to see what they are selling it for-just for comparison purposes-not to buy it. (Do you ever do that?)  When everything is priced, it is a lot easier for you and for your customers. I've been to several sales were I've just walked away without asking prices, because at previous sales, I've heard sellers offer up several different prices based on who was asking-and I can't stand those kind of pricing practices.
     4. Please have bags and/or newspaper or something to wrap glassware in when someone purchases it. 
     5. If you advertise a sale to be a three day sale, you should be open 3 days. It is no fun as a shopper when you show up to a house and the garage doors are closed, and there are boxes out at the curb-especially if you drove out of your way to get to it!
     6. Please be specific in your ad. Take  note of the ingredients lists on the food you buy and list your garage sale in the same manner. The first items listed should be the main focus of your sale. If you have a lot of baby stuff and one old piece of furniture, start the ad with "LOTS of Baby stuff, toys, clothes, books and an antique dresser". Don't just throw in the words "vintage" or "antique" to get people to show up at your sale-you'll end up with frustrated shoppers who might skip future sales at your house (or from your company if you are in the business of garage or estate sales)if you don't have what you advertise. Be specific in your wording...household items could cover a huge array of things-it's just as easy to say kitchen items, or decor, and it helps shoppers to determine if your sale is worth the trip.
     7. Be willing to barter back and forth with a shopper making an offer. Wouldn't you rather have $7 for a $10 item and no item to have to put back away after the sale is done, than no money and all the stuff to put away?
     8. Just because you paid $50 for it new (and you barely used it), doesn't mean it is still worth $40 ten years later. Decide what the goal of your sale is...are you trying to get the most money you possibly can, and aren't worried about hauling all the stuff back inside? Or are you trying to get rid of some extra stuff and make a little money while you are at it? My suggestion would be to start at your top price the first day and offer discounts each day thereafter-letting your customers know that on the last day, everything will be half off (or whatever you choose)-I've had a lot of customers return on the last days just to see what is left. If you have things you don't want to sell for the discounted price, then put them in the house and save them for another sale. Just because something is listed at a certain price on Ebay, doesn't mean you should try selling it for that at your garage sale. People come to garage sales looking for bargains, not out of reach prices.
     9. Take some time to arrange your sale so that like items are together. If someone is looking for kitchen items, and you have them grouped with all the other kitchen items, they might see something else they want because it was right there with the items that first caught their eye, rather than having it across the room with some other stuff.
     10. Have plenty of change so that if someone has been out treasure seeking all day and they are left with a twenty dollar bill or two, they can still buy something from you even if it ends up being a lot of change to give back.

Last but not friendly and greet people who stop at your sale-the old adage "you get more flies with honey" applies big time! I know I'd rather buy more from a friendly person than someone who looks me over and ignores me or is snarly-wouldn't you?

My top 10 tips and advice for buyers...
     1. Plan ahead. Make a list of addresses of the sales you want to visit and map them out. It saves time and gas to have a plan of action rather than just driving around randomly.
     2. Bring a good amount of cash to pay for your purchases-most people will not take checks anymore.
     3. Get a good GPS-it makes finding sales a breeze-especially when there is construction or detours or you miss your turn.
      4. If you pull up into the driveway, you really should get out of your car and go through the sale. It's almost like a snub to the sellers when people pull all the way into the driveway or yard, only to pull out without even getting out of the car. Scope things out from the road and if you see a majority of items you aren't interested in (for me that would be kids toys and baby stuff), then keep moving and go on to the next sale on your list-before you pull in to the driveway or park. Don't be afraid to take a chance though-sometimes you can't see from the road what might be sitting at the back of the garage-it could be that one of a kind item you've been searching forever for!
     5. Don't be afraid to make offers! What is the worst the seller will say??? "No". Most of the time though, they will either accept it, or make a counter offer. Don't be too stingy either in your offers. If something is already priced at a great price and you are willing to pay it, then pay it! If it is a little higher than you'd like to pay, then offer a little less. If something is really a lot higher than you'd like to pay-don't expect them to be willing to come down really low to a price you are comfortable with. When I've been the seller, I've actually had people offer me half (or less than half)of the price I've had something for sale at -I think that is just rude.Whether I'm selling or buying, I don't have a problem offering or accepting a $5 offer on a $7 item, a $7 offer on a $10 item, and so on. I don't usually make offers on items that are $1 or less-some people do.
     6. Set a time limit. Make a mental note of what amount of time you'd like to devote to treasure seeking for that day and stick with it. You'll feel better at the end of the day
with your treasures if it didn't take you all day to find them!
     7. Don't forget to eat and drink while you are out and about. Take a break, smell the roses-it won't be very much fun after a while if it becomes like a job or a chore to go treasure hunting-make it fun and enjoy the trip!
     8. Schedule treasure seeking outings with a good friend once in a while. You'll enjoy the treasure of their companionship and your adventures together will make great memories!
     9. When treasure seeking with a friend, keep your purchases separate when you load them into the car. Keep all of your purchases on one side and theirs on the other side-it makes it a LOT easier when there area a lot of things to divide up at the end of your adventure.
10. Make sure, when you are ready to make your purchase that you have thoroughly looked your item over, top to bottom, and inside out so that there won't be any surprises when you get home with little hidden chips in glassware or china, or holes or stains in linens, or missing parts or damaged parts. Generally garage sale and estate sale items area "sold as is" and there are  no refunds-buyer beware.  

Now if I could just find that one in a million sale with all kinds of vintage Fiesta ware-a whole box lot-for $10 (dream on-right?!!?)-I'd be one happy Treasure Seeker!!

What are some of your tips for finding good sales? Do you like the prepare ahead approach or do you like to wing it and just start driving? Do you ever make offers or do you generally pay the asking price? Are you mostly a shopper or do you hold your own sales too? What are some tips/or advice you can offer me on my treasure seeking adventures?

Monday, August 30, 2010

My bookcase is filling up...but not so much with books!

I'm starting to get quite a little collection of vintage tablecloths!

I picked up this iced tea jar at a sale last weekend. It had a broken spigot, so it was only 50 cents. Within about 10 seconds, Kevin removed the broken part, and now I have another jar for old ornaments!

With the hole turned toward the wall-no one is the wiser!

I added in the vintage Fiesta plate I got a couple of weeks ago.

I know this green striped glass doesn't fit here, but I haven't found where it does fit yet!

I guess the books will have to go into the cabinets under the shelves-LOL!

Biz-utiful Tablecloths!

The cherry tablecloth was probably the worst looking tablecloth that I've bought so far (since my addiction to vintage tablecloths began this spring). It was pretty bad. It still has some small stains and will need more soaking time, but the Biz is working wonders!!! I have to get some more-I'm thrilled with the results I've gotten this summer with it!

I'm still searching for a couple of vintage tablecloths with purple as the main color...

An Estate Sale that starts on a Sunday??? I'm there!!

I was pretty surprised when I got my email update from that listed an estate sale that was starting on Sunday and running through Wednesday. I was pretty excited to go when I looked through the pictures! Not only did they have things for sale that made my heart skip a couple beats, the house where the sale was being held looked really interesting.

Yesterday was our "Launch" for Student Ministries at our church, and since I am the administrative assistant to 3 youth pastors/directors, I needed to be there to work the launch. We had one huge prayer and worship service for students 5th-12th grade and their parents. To pray over the students, the leaders and the coming year-as well as give the parents time to register their kids for the Sunday and Wednesday classes, get their permission slips notarized for the year and find out about all of the changes for the coming year with our new director.

I probably notarized close to 60 permission slips  myself, and the other notary probably did about the same. We bought 40 dozen donuts from Wal-mart and probably had 6 dozen left over. Donuts at Wal-mart are a real bargain-$3.88 a dozen! Other local donut places charge $5-$7 a dozen!

As soon as the launch was over, I flew home, picked up Kevin and Eric and we headed to the estate sale. It helped that it was only about 2 miles from Harbor Freight and about 1 mile from Sonic! We got there about an hour and a half after they opened and the street was lined with cars. When we got in the house-the things I had see on were still there!!!! I was a happy girl! I think all the cars were for the workers, because there were only a few shoppers.

It was a very neat house architecturally! I forgot my camera in the car-otherwise I'd show you the neat 6 panel rounded top wood doors, the very vintage kitchen still in pristine shape. The neighborhood looked like it was a very upscale place at one time many years ago, and the current home owners kept the homes and yards meticulously.

This is what I picked up ...

 A pink Manhattan tri-footed bowl.

The main reason for the trip-a dotty bowl!!

A vintage dish towel-soaking in Biz with a tablecloth from Saturday.

Have you ever been to an estate sale that started on Sunday? It was fun and almost felt like it was a special treat!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Saturday Sanity Builder

Saturdays are great days for re-energizing, unwinding, and restoring sanity from busy weeks at work! Today was a totally incredible, awesome, gorgeous day!

Since Eric and I hit so many sales yesterday, Kevin and I just went out for mostly a drive. We did stop at a couple sales along the way. I picked up a couple of tablecloths and two free plates-with holes in the middle covered by a ten cent price sticker. I'm thinking of experimenting with them for something for the garden-at least the price was right!

We stopped at Livingston Feed and Seed and Kevin picked up a giant bag of wheat. He wants to try his hand at grinding it and making his own bread for a while. So we are bidding on a grinder on Ebay-lol-so far we are the high bid at ten cents! He says he'd like to try to make a mud and straw outdoor oven and give it a try...

Since I'm going to be starting a Bible Body Boot Camp (exercise/devotional class) soon, we stopped at a local coney island so I could get a chili cheese fries and coney dog fix before I start being good. I've been craving coney's all summer and finally got one! While we were sitting there a couple that used to go to our church came over and sat with us-and another lady that used to work with Kevin said "Hi". It was so nice to stop and smell the roses today!

When we got home, I hopped in the pool with Eric-I think we need to hook up the boys solar heater again-the temperature is down to about 73 degrees...but it was nice to float around with my book and a magazine!

Adam's friends are coming over when he gets home from work-just in time for dinner-LOL and they'll be staying over night-good thing I got that daybed a few weeks ago with the trundle-huh?

I'm thinking about having a Labor Day Potluck Party...I usually have a potluck party on Memorial Day, 4th of July and Labor Day. I've done this for years, but this year I haven't had one yet. We usually get a really big turn out with lots of families-and it is a LOT of work getting the house and yard just so-as well as trying to make sure there is enough food.My family says I go off the deep end trying to make everything "just so".  Maybe this time I can chill-and if we run out of burgers and dogs-we run out. I'm sure there will be plenty of other food people can eat-right?

We have a great yard for parties. 3 acres, a sand volleyball court, a big pool, lots of yard games-a couple shady spots...I guess the reason I didn't have one earlier this summer is kind of a whiny reason-I was hoping to be invited rather than be the inviter all the time. Maybe some people are just inviters and some are just invitees...

Oh well, enough blabbing! Off to hop in the pool for a few minutes before it's time to make dinner-gotta soak up every last drop of summer!!!

Thanks for stopping by! :)

This what we picked up today...

Both plates were in the free box.

Friday, August 27, 2010


Today was pretty much a frog of a day as far as sales go. Everything else, was pretty awesome-great weather (mid 70's, low humidity, beautiful blue skies, big puffy clouds), hanging out with Eric-that was the best part! The so much. Everything we bought we got at 3 sales.

On paper, it looked like it was a gold mine of estate sales and garage sales offering plenty antiques and vintage goodies. My heart did a little pitter patter when one ad actually listed "vintage collectibles". When we got there...there was enough stuff to fit on one small card table-spread out on 3 long 6' tables and it was more like 80's stuff with a 70's couch-bleh!

Eric was thrilled that there was a barn sale offering antiques and barn related items. Unfortunately, at that sale they had some really nice stuff, but it was priced wayy higher than any of our dozens of local antique stores.

We did a marathon route and went to 16 sales today. Started at the farthest place out and working our way back home. We were never more than 20 miles from home at any given time-mostly within 10 miles. The first one was an estate sale in a real rural area that offered "105 years of accumulation".

It was pretty creepy. The dealers were set up outside in front of the garage. We were the only shoppers for the first 10 minutes-the only ones in the house that was full to the brim with all kinds of stuff! It seemed like a first day and not the second day that it was. Things were 25% off today going to 50% off tomorrow. I saw some really cool old windows and shutters that I am pondering a return trip for the 50% off price.

One sale looked like the house just had enough and threw up in the yard-literally! There was so much junk-starting about 40 feet from the house and the end of the driveway running all the way up to the house and throughout the garage. It was overwhelming and a mess of very high priced junk.

 There was more stuff to the left that went out another 10 or so feet.

The main thing I was searching for...swanky swigs. Did I find any? Not one! Why is it, once I make up my mind that I'd like to get something-I never see it again, but when I'm not interested...they are EVERYWHERE?!?! Have you ever had that happen? What are you looking for and can't find? Maybe we should trade lists...I'll look for your treasures and you could look for swanky swigs for me! :)

This is what we came home with today...

 An old lawn darts (jarts) set.

 A fall tablecloth.

An old tablecloth-probably the most stained one I've gotten so far-I'm counting on the Biz!

A flattened bottle-I plan to use it as a spoon rest by the stove.

A blue pitcher-fifty cents.

An old jar with bunnies and ducks.

Some old ornaments, and one not so old ornament, fifty cents for the box.

At the sale where I bought the fall tablecloth, it was a young couple and they were holding an estate sale in their own home-selling everything in the lower level-including all the dishes and furniture-kids movies, toys, etc. I keep thinking about that sale, it was kind of sad...they said they were "downsizing".

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Sometimes a picture can say things better than words are some pictures of what has been going on around here this past week.

Went to an estate sale in this amazing old house last Saturday-look at that stone work! The inside was incredible-I forgot to check to see if the pictures on Kevin's phone turned out-I'll post them later if they did! It had the original wood trim, doors, doorknobs, very old wallpaper, very high ceilings, very narrow steep stairs (2 sets of stairs), and tons of character! I LOVED being able to go inside and see it!

Is this the top chick? I think she is tops in the pecking order-I've been watching and I think they finally worked it out.

Can you really have a staring contest between a dog and a chicken? They did!

My favorite sight of the night-every night-watching the girls hop on the roosts and look out over the yard before turning in for the night.

I think when Maddie started drooling, the hen got a little nervous-so Maddie "won" the staring contest!

What do you think they are talking about? Probably that crazy dog!

Isn't that strange how the sun is shining through the clouds?

Almost makes you look to see if anyone is being sucked up!

Or if there was a giant spotlight in someone's house for a while!

Eric's sunflower now that it has grown a little more and gotten a little more color.

Will there be time for this to open before the frost comes?

I think this will become my new screensaver!

This was laying out in the yard the other day...all lonesome and sad...

but not for long...

...kind of like her "velveteen" ducky.

My favorite place in my yard!

The view from my hammock-won't be much longer and the leaves will be gone again...sigh!

Hope you are enjoying every last drop of every minute this summer!

It's fading into fall more quickly each day-soak it up while it lasts!