In Western New York, as well as countless other areas around our great nation, we have a tradition of doing away with unwanted or no longer needed items from around our homes, by offering them for sale at garage and lawn sales. These open air market places help the environment by keeping a lot of that unwanted or no longer needed merchandise from ending up in garbage dumps and land fills. The problem with this method of transferring used, outdated, slightly damaged or unneeded materials from one home to another is, if you only go to these events as a buyer, and never participate in them as a seller, you sure end up with a lot of junk in your garage or on your lawn! Some people, like those spouses of addicted garage sales shoppers, are quick to point out that it is a rather short trip from GARAGE to GARBAGE!
I, am not an addicted garage or lawn sale shopper. I have, however, been known to stop at some of these events just to check out what might be available at great discount prices. Now, you have to be careful not to mistake estate sales as just giant lawn or garage sales. Oh no, estate sales are organized and operated by third parties looking to make huge profits from the demise of someones parents or grandparents. As sad as it is, when an older relative passes on, and the remaining family members do not have the time or inclination to go through the effort of clearing out a house that they have no intention or desire to maintain, estate sale specialists can be contracted to handle the sale of virtually everything that family members don’t remove from the premises first. I avoid estate sales, as they are not as economical as hastily thrown together amateur garage and lawn sales.
Now if you have never participated as a buyer or a seller at one of these events, you may be saying, “what might I be able to find at one of these wondrous events”? The answer is, what are you looking for? I’m not saying that every garage or lawn sale is going to have whatever you may have targeted as an object of need, I’m saying that there are no boundaries as to what you might find at any one of these sales. Tools, toys, mismatched tires, furniture, nuts, bolts, and yes, even a kitchen sink or two might be found. Clothes, jewelry, knick-knacks, drapes, chains, do-dads and what nots – you need it or want it, and you will be able to find it. No need to travel to the hardware store or home improvement center to over pay for a lawn mower or snow thrower, just drive around and scope out some local lawn and garage sales. You won’t get a warranty or guarantee of long, trouble free service, but most times, a thorough inspection of a mechanical device will tell you if it is still in good operational condition. After all, you’re purchasing a lawn mower for ten dollars, if it starts and does not overheat within five minutes or so, how can you go wrong? If it lasts only one season, who cares! Just because it is not all shiny and new, does not mean that it does not have some life left in it.
Tools are my downfall when it comes to lawn and garage sales. Not that I stop at a lot of them, but when I do stop, and I see there are some tools available, I have to check them out. A guy can never have too many hammers, screw drivers, wrenches or pry bars! Many times, you can fill a new tool box with worthwhile tools, for less than twenty dollars. Will you, or I, ever use all the tools that might be salvaged from someone else’s garage? Who knows, who cares! Just knowing that you now own a wire cutter with the insulation slightly worn off one of the handles, or an almost complete set of nut drivers or allen wrenches, should allow you to sleep more soundly at night. Who knows when that second or third pair of vice grips is going to come in handy? And when you absolutely, positively need a three inch long carriage bolt, who’s to say that there isn’t one in that can of odds and ends hardware you picked up for fifty cents! Sometimes, you can even find nice tool boxes at drastically reduced prices. These are usually being sold by either men who bought bigger ones to hold all their tool and hardware treasures, or by women who told their husband to either find some place else to put the tool box, or it’s going out for the yard sale!
Purchasing clothes at yard sales is very economical also. There always seems to be tons of baby clothes, and let’s face it, does a baby really care if his or her clothes are new or stylish? Of course not. As long as the clothes are soft, warm, clean and comfortable, a baby could care less. A six month old is going to cry and complain when it’s hungry no matter if it’s wearing a twelve dollar sleeper from a department store, or a one dollar sleeper from a yard sale. Kids don’t care if they’re wearing a recycled “Raiders Of The Lost Ark” or “My Pretty Pony” novelty tee shirt, as long as they think they look cool wearing it. How quickly do kids grow out of their foot wear? Often enough to make you go broke by getting new shoes or sneakers from a department store every couple of months! If they fit, and are not too used, kids don’t care what they wear when they’re outside playing, and you have saved so much money, that stopping for ice cream on the way home from a day of lawn sale shopping, is now well within your budget. When it comes to clothing in particular, the thing to remember is, what goes around, comes around. What was stylish ten years ago, can still be stylish today. Another thing to remember about purchasing clothes at yard sales is, there usually are no fitting rooms, so you either have to know precisely what size is appropriate to purchase, or be extremely devoid of any modesty, by trying things on in a front yard!
Many times, real honest to goodness treasures can be found at these bargain shopping events. Let’s just say that at one such event, the homeowner placed a tarnished, nearly ten pound serving tray out for sale, and placed a price tag of five dollars on it. Upon close inspection, a shopper noticed an imprint that had been stamped on the bottom of the tray when it was first produced. After a bit of bargain hunter bantering with the seller, the tray was purchased for three dollars and fifty cents. When it was finally brought to its new home, cleaned and polished, it began to appear more like it may have looked when it was brand new – almost one hundred years ago! When taken to an antique dealer for an appraisal, it turned out that this solid stainless silver serving tray was worth a little more than seventy five times what the purchase price was! The antique dealer mentioned that he would be happy to purchase the tray at that point, but for the past twenty five years, it has been the centerpiece of the dining room table of the wise bargain hunter. My wife does not stop at lawn and garage sales very often, but when she does, she usually hits a home run with her purchases.
Yes indeed, lawn and garage sales can be fun and can save you bundles of cash when you find something that you need. From books to baby clothes, wicker furniture to wind chimes, household appliances to sporting goods, or glass and china to nuts and bolts, it’s out there on someones lawn or in their garage, waiting for you to find it. But, at some point in time, you will need to reciprocate, and have a sale of your own. You cannot just collect stuff, year after year, and not fall prey to your garage being overfilled with garbage. I know I already have six needle nose pliers honey, but you never know when I might need a pair like this. And, they’re only twenty five cents!