Today we share the final piece in our series on bargain shopping for retro treasures. So far we’ve shined the spotlight on the world of antique festivals, estate sales, antique malls and thrift stores. This post is devoted to that early morning event known as the garage sale! Why we love them: While you sometimes run into people selling their possessions for hundreds of dollars (“That’s what I paid for it!”), most of the time the desire to get rid of excess clutter results in some amazing bargains. Here are our tips for making the most of your Saturday morning…
We know–it’s a weekend! But garage sales are typically over by lunchtime. And if you want to sleep in, there are estate sales that run into the afternoon hours. But if you’re truly looking to enjoy a garage sale adventure, it pays to be an early riser and hit multiple stops. I have a hard time competing with the zombies: the people who wait in their cars in front of the sale location at daybreak, then descend on the unsuspecting sale hosts en masse as soon as someone opens the garage door. If the sale says “No early birds,” take a hint! BUT it never hurts to have your sale route pre-planned, even if it’s just a general idea of neighborhoods you’ll hit that morning. And definitely get going by 8 if you can!
Investigate the History of the Item
Last weekend we were lucky enough to find that legendary event known as the neighborhood-wide garage sale. And many of the houses in that hood were built in the ’80s. We’re not kidding! We came across many treasures, from a gorgeous 1980s glass console table to a pair of modern brass floor lamps. And then there was the floral arrangement you see above. When you’re at a garage sale, you have the ability to ask the item’s owner about the history of the piece! This is an amazing privilege. For example, with a quick question and a short answer, I was able to deduce that this Asian-style arrangement was custom designed in the ’80s to match the decor of the home. This will be the centerpiece for a future Retro Foodie event, give or take a couple of changes…
Another favorite find from the day–the splatter paint cuff above. And when I went to pay for this little treasure and my smallest bill was a 20 (thanks to my earlier ATM stop), the person throwing the sale looked a bit overwhelmed. Which brings us to our next point: be prepared. Have some cash on hand, including smaller bills. Sometimes these sales get competitive. If you can quickly grab an item and get in and out without having to make a trip to the bank in between, you’ll have an easier time. Also, while many people walk right past items from the ’70s and ’80s, more and more design enthusiasts are starting to recognize a good buy when they see one. So quickly scan the sale for obvious deals when you first arrive and make your move.
At the same time, I sometimes have a laid back philosophy that defies the frenzied bargain hunter mentality. After all, it IS Saturday. Or Friday morning. And I’ve found some of my best deals while chilling out and taking my time to think about the purchase.
Do you have any fun garage sale stories to share in the comments section below?…
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