Get Set, Garage Sale

Author: Alecia Pirulis

Garage Sale

It’s no secret that I love garage sales. You can find garage sale treasures in every room of my home — even (thanks to my husband) in the garage.

I love old plates – I hang them on one wall in my dining room. They are all shapes, sizes, and patterns. I try to keep them all in the same basic color scheme to match my dining room.

My Chihuahua Pinky has an indoor hideaway that I created from an octagon-shaped table with doors – I removed one door, painted the table, placed her pillow and blanket inside, and turned it toward the wall. She has a cozy place to hide during thunderstorms (or just to escape Peanut, my pug), and I have a great end table for my favorite lamp – also a garage-sale find.

If you have a limited budget (or even if you don’t), garage sales are perfect for decorating your space. You can try new painting techniques without fear — if you paint the table you discovered at a yard sale for $4 lime green and stencil on bright orange polka-dots, then get sick of it in a week (what was I thinking?), you can repaint it or ditch it. If you spend a quarter on a glass bowl to hold your keys and such at the front door then knock it off the table and break it, no big deal.

If you’ve never decorated your own space before, don’t go to an expensive store and buy something, only to realize it completely clashes with the rest of your space or doesn’t fit in your tiny apartment. A similar item picked up at a garage sale for a fraction of the price can be modified or re-sold or tossed out, and you won’t feel as though you’ve wasted your money.

Fall is the perfect garage-sale season – the cool mornings and mild afternoons are perfect for spending the day outside treasure-hunting. Put on your favorite tennis shoes, grab your coffee, and use this handy garage-sale guide:

1. Have a plan. Map out your route and stick to it. I like to travel in a circle, starting with the ones closest to my house and then working my way out, around, and then back toward home from the opposite direction. That way I hit as many sales as I can in my immediate area.

2. Go early! This is one point I can’t seem to get across to my husband. If you don’t get an early start, you won’t make it to as many sales – and all of the good stuff gets snapped up early.

3. You’ll need dollar bills and change. This is truly a nickle-and-dime pastime. I like to collect quarters and dollar bills throughout the week and put them aside (I use a rather tacky coffee mug I found at a garage sale) — that way, when a garage sale weekend comes available (no football games, practices, or birthday parties), I’m prepared.

4. Take a pad and pen. I learned this the hard way. I once found an amazing corner cabinet – antique – and perfect for my kitchen. I wasn’t sure it would fit in the corner I had in mind, so I went on my way to more garage sales with the intention of heading back to the cabinet after I had a chance to think about it. It is very easy to forget where you’ve been. I never did find that house … or my cabinet. If you see something you may want, jot the address down so you can find it again. Just in case.

5. Use your GPS. I used to get lost – a lot. This takes up valuable garage sale time. Finally, I invested in a GPS. It works both ways – to find an address, and to find your way out of a neighborhood (some neighborhoods are giant mazes).

6. Finally, make it a habit. You are on a treasure hunt – you have your map and compass (of sorts), and it takes time and a lot of dead ends to find that perfect item. Don’t go once and give up, or the treasure will stay out there for someone else to find.