Thursday, June 21, 2012

Garage Sales

Oh dear. I think I'm in trouble...

I've committed the next three days to working at a massive garage sale fundraiser for one of the charities I volunteer with...

Oh dear...

Foolishly I thought,"I'll be responsible! I won't spend a thing!" After two days of pricing, I had accumulated a wishlist of over $100 - at a garage sale! Now, granted, this isn't just any garage sale. One of our biggest concerns in the planning stages was that we wouldn't get enough stuff donated to sell. However, for over 6 weeks now we've been getting the equivalent of a truckload of donations every workday. We have 2, double garages filled with sporting goods, furniture and electronics, and a whole barn filled to overflowing with housewares and toys. I've seen ping-pong tables, camping stoves, bedroom sets, patio furniture and upholstered rocking horses at this thing, and I haven't even seen everything yet since they got more stuff in since I was helping them yesterday morning!

In light of the garage sale craziness, and in honor of the money that I will undoubtedly be spending, I will be doing a garage sale shopping guide for today's post. These are the top things (in no particular order) you should be looking for at garage sales/thrift stores if you're looking to save money, do a project, or find a treasure!

#1: Furniture! The shabby chic and barnyard chic trends are making huge waves online right now, in large part thanks to Pinterest. Finding old pieces, giving them a new look and proudly displaying them as character pieces is quickly becoming a hobby for many a stay-at-home-mom (like this one!). Since lots of pieces from the 70s and 80s were made with solid wood, it's the perfect time to find a solid wood table just waiting to be stripped and stained, and there are loads of online tutorials for how to give wood that weathered look (like this) or a more antiqued look (like this)

#2: Craft supplies! Look for former crafters downsizing their fabric stash, or someone who had a strong start on scrapbooking and then decided it just wasn't for them. I went to an estate sale on time where half of the basement was filled with yards and yards of fabrics, which they were selling for a buck a yard. Oh, and did I mention that old drapes or table cloths can be great for making pillows or other home decor projects?

#3: Home accents! Be it cute pictures, old mirrors, lamps, or any number of decorative pieces, it seems like there's always at least one good one at any garage sale! Sometimes it may take a creative eye to see the potential in some pieces, but a can of spray paint can go a long way with an interestingly shaped lamp or an old frame! One of my favorite reworkings of an old piece was featured in a magazine a few years ago (I can't remember which one, so I can't even link to it), where they painted old owl statues white and hung some on the wall and placed a white circular frame around it. It was a neat accent in the room, and I see those stupid little owls everywhere I go, and it was really the first time I ever looked at something like that and thought, "I could do that!"

#4: Jewelry! Don't get your hopes up about finding anything too fantastic here - most people aren't in the habit of selling diamonds out of their garage (and if they are, you should really be asking some questions...) But, things that people deem 'old' because they've been looking at them for years, may seem new and exciting to a fresh pair of eyes. Old brooches can easily be turned into hair accessories, and a gold chain may be just the thing you were looking for. A strand of pearls can be turned into a cute bracelet and retro earrings can be made into classy cufflinks, for hubby or yourself.

#5: Books! Very few people collect books today like they used to. There is still a group of people that love flipping through the paper pages curled up in a chair, and who would never dream of parting with a page from their beloved collections, but for the most part, people are either digitalizing their collection, or settling for reading books once and then getting them out of the house. Old favorites like Jane Austen's works, Harry Potters, LOTR and anything by Shakespeare can almost always be found used - and barely used at that. Newer books can also be picked up much cheaper from people who read it when it was just released and then decided they could part with the book. If you have enough books to read on your shelf, maybe you're looking to do some paper art? From wreaths to wall-art, mobiles to modge-podged jewelry boxes - the words from your favorite story can be incorporated into your decor easily. Just search "book pages" on Pinterest for some great ideas!

#6: Antiques! There is a whole group of people who only go to garage sales and thrift stores to find collectors items or things that are worth far more than they are priced. And they actually are more common than you might think... Case and point, while pricing at our charity garage sale I noticed an antique wood stirrup and an antique dinner triangle on the wall that someone found in the barn. Even without knowing the exact date for when they were crafted, I knew we could sell them for more than the $2 and $5, respectively, that they were being priced at. People who grew up with pieces and never considered them special, or someone who inherited a piece and never bothered looking into it may be selling little treasures for far less than their true value - but a word of caution, antique hunting is a risky and expensive hobby to get into. Remember, something is only worth as much as someone is willing to pay for it, so don't shell out $50 for that blue mountain pottery dolphin when everyone in Alberta has a piece and you can find it for $5 elsewhere.

#7: Toys! If you're like us, you have too many toys in your house. It's inevitable when you have the first grandchild on one side, and the first grandson on the other. We are some of those people who donate brand new toys to thrift stores, or sell them at garage sales. And no, we don't look for fair market price - we just want them gone. There's lots of people like us, I imagine. Even if there aren't a load of people around who sell brand new toys, there are lots of toys that were only played with a few times and then the kids got bored of it. Single-child families host great garage sales since their toys haven't even had a chance to get worn out!

#8: Kid clothes! Speaking of those single-child families, did you notice all the clothes they had? Especially if the had a little girl! Stretchy pants, leggings, onesies and tutus galore! And why spend $35 on a pair of kids shoes when you can get them for $1 at a garage sale!

#9: Games! Board games or video games, you can find loads of both at thrift stores and garage sales! If you are like me and don't buy every brand new gaming system when it first comes out, you're quite content with your old xbox and PS2. However, being that there are a lot of people who much prefer to have the newest and latest, that also means that there are a lot of people who sell of their old xbox and PS2 games for dirt cheap. And can you even find a garage sale that doesn't have Monopoly at it right now? Some board games go for up to $60, so it's often well worth your trouble to at least look around for a used one first.

#10: Kitchen accessories! My favorite! Lots of people decided to get rid of a waffle iron or pasta maker because they never use them. Same with old dishes - someone gets a new set, and decide to sell the old one even though there's nothing wrong with it. When I first moved out, this was how I stocked my house. The only things I didn't buy from a garage sale or thrift store, I bought from XS Cargo - a refurbished/liquidation store. Even at the garage sale this weekend I'm going to be getting my pasta maker!

Garage Saleing can be pricey if you just go to look without something in mind, but if there's something on your list that you plan to buy anyway, it can be well worth your time to look for it used first!

Mrs. VanderLeek ;)

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