I've been asked by more than one follower how I find some of my treasures. And since yard sales are in full swing here in Maryland, I thought that I'd give you some of my best tips. I am, and have been going to yard sales for over 25 years, so I think that makes me a bit of a professional. I've learned a lot over the years. (Above...one of my best finds and bargains ever--an antique Victorian mantle for $30.)
And, contrary to popular belief, I don't go to hundreds of sales; I may drive by many sales, but I only actually get out of the car at a community yard sale or when I see a lot of stuff at one sale.
Anyway, here are my tips:
1. Plan ahead: I check Craig's List on Friday night and if there is a yard sale on the way home from my kids' soccer games, I'll go. In the summer, when the kids don't have games, I'll map out a route of different sales in different neighborhoods. There is a website that you can actually customize to your area http://gsalr.com that I use sometimes, but mostly it's just Craig's List. I go to estate sales, too (especially in the summer), but those take time (which I usually don't have on fall weekends). I usually give myself a $10 limit. Of course, I can always splurge in an emergency (see mantle above).
2. Be prepared. I always have a tape measure in my car, and lots of dollars bills in my purse. You don't want to carry a wad of $20, and $50 into a garage sale. And, most people don't take checks. Remember, if there 's an expensive item you like, you can always ask the owner to hold it while you go to a cash machine (people will usually hold it for at least 15 min). Also, if you're like me, you may want to bring reading glasses (not that I really need them or anything).3. Go early or go late. (Or go when you can...that's basically my story.) Early birds do get the best stuff, however, late birds get the best bargains.
4. Scan. I do drive-bys. Usually, I'll look for yard sales with tons of stuff out and then I try to find the "diamonds in the stuff." Like Mike and Frank (from American Picker's - GREAT TV SHOW on the History Channel) I look for junky yard sales and not the nicely set up ones...that's where you find the best stuff. I move swiftly through sales and then go back for a closer look if there are a lot of items.
5. Visualize. You have to be able to visualize how you can modify something to fit your needs (can you paint it or use it in a different way?) I purchased a box full of antique door plates at a flea market because I visualized creating something like you see on the left. It only took me about a year to actually create them.
Stay tuned for Part II in my next post.