02 September 2010

Things Bloggers Do #8

8.  We are not afraid of throwin' 'bows at a yard sale.

You better believe that if I see some ironstone at a yard sale, and you see that same ironstone, I will win. I lift weights in the off-season just to make sure I’m in the best shape possible for yard sailing.

Well, I don’t really “sail” from place to place…I take the “white knuckles” approach.

If you blog, I know you’re like that too. I know you don’t have to be a blogger to be a bow throwin’ kind of shopper, but bloggers have the added mission of writing about what they find.

Countless photo-worthy treasures + an interesting story = a GREAT blog post.

If you’re not a seasoned yard sale pioneer, this post is for you. If you have an addiction to yard sales, this post is for you. If you’ve already scoured Craigslist for the weekend sales, this post is for you.


- Cash (can not stress the importance of this one enough)

- Checkbook

- Sustenance like granola bars and water. No stopping.

- Phone handy, as well as your husband. He must be able to be reached at all times for measurements, approval, and to talk you out of buying the 4th disc of the 3rd season of LOST.

- Taser for the unruly ladies.

- Leave the babies at home, or bring someone who can watch them in the car. I have a friend who plays Veggie Tales for her kids while she shops. This is SO smart…perfectly entertaining and a great way to make sure your kids never see what kind of animal shopper you are, Amy ;)


You need to drive by before you commit to parking. You need to find out if this is a “baby clothes and boxes full of VHS tapes” sale, or if it is a hidden treasure type sale. Sometimes the line between them is very thin. That is why the drive by is so important. You can NOT feel bad for the drive by. They would do it at your sale in heartbeat.
This isn’t rainbows and unicorns and new found friendships. This is BATTLE.
I can not describe in words the animosity I feel toward drawing cars.  WHAT IS THAT?!


If the drive by doesn’t tell you all you need to know, this is the time to park. Pick a spot closest to the sale that doesn’t leave you blocked in by the lady in the Buick. You know her. I know you do.

Take your cash with you, and start eyeballing EVERYTHING before you even get the door shut. Look through boxes, peek in the garage and see if they have any great cabinets they might part with. If not, look on table tops, and if you see something you just have to buy…buy it quick before a line longer than the one at the DMV forms.

There are a number of sales where you will not find anything. The thing sticking out of the box that you thought was an old flour sack was actually some whitey-tighties a little worse for the wear. This is ok. This is when you leave. I’m not saying you have to be completely heartless…I usually use this excuse: “Well I was looking for (insert whatever you DON’T see at their sale here) so I better keep moving on!” This has always worked for me, but I dread the day when someone says “Oh! I actually have one of those in the house!” ……REALLY?!


Here is my advice on the matter. Plain and simple. Always. ALWAYS ask politely for a lower price. If they say no, you can still buy it if you really want it! There’s no evil sale police telling you to put the item down once sticker dickering does not work. YOU CAN STILL BUY IT.

NEVER, in that smart Alec tone, talk about the item in front of the seller. There should be no “well I don’t know…it IS kind of dirty, and not really what I’m looking for…can you go less?” as you’re turning the item over in your hands scrunching your nose at it. Doing this not only makes you look like a giant IDIOT, but also makes that seller shut down. That’s like a guy telling you, “I don’t know, your face is kind of gross and disfigured but I guess I could date you….I guess. Only if YOU buy dinner…”


I’m a really nice person. Ask around. When it comes to garage sales though…..watch it. It’s really nothing personal. I shop sales like I play basketball….I throw ‘bows. I give you permission. In the real world, I hate confrontation. I can’t even ask for a day off at work without shaking…literally shaking.

Let me tell you a little story. 3 or so weeks ago, I arrived at a yard sale at the same time as the lady in the Buick. (You DO know her) Apparently en route to the sale, I had done something to upset her. Never mind that I had NO idea who she was or had even talked to her! Anyway, I got out and she was shaking her head and me and then that big heavy ‘HHHHHHHHH’ sigh came out. Not once, not twice, but the entire walk up to the sale. Shifty-eyed glance, head shake, sigh, repeat. Since this is garage sale land and not real life, I finally turned and said “is there something you want to tell me?” in a tone that would make Wanda Sykes proud.

BAM. There it was. I threw a verbal jab and it felt good. Real life Jana would have cowered and walked faster, arms folded, to the sale.

Lesson is, garage sales aren’t real life. You get to be ruthless. Don’t tell your husband I said that. Or your mother. Or mine.

You’ll encounter the “I saw it first” women, the grabby ones who will try to take things from your pile, and the people who must be numb from the neck down to not feel that they are totally rubbing up on you. Now you know what to do.


If it is going to take you more than 15 minutes to load the big items you bought in your truck, ask to leave it there until the end of the day. My reasoning for this is that while you’re busy loading up that dresser, someone at the next sale is buying up all the treasures. That person is usually me. So you’re welcome for that tip. Do you want one dresser, or the dresser plus 10 awesome cool things you found while not spending time loading it? That’s what I thought.


Pick these people selectively. They will control how well you do that day. Do they take an extra 5 minutes putting on lip gloss in the mirror? Do they ask to stop for the bathroom more than twice? Do they linger over the 1.00 items table too long? Are they looking for things like porcelain trinkets and baby clothes?

DO NOT TAKE THEM WITH YOU. DO NOT TAKE THEM WITH YOU. Here’s a hint: you will resent them for the entire trip. Guaranteed. You need a marathon sale partner. Someone in for the long haul. I have a few of them, and they’re great. In, out, no questions asked. ‘Nuff said? Yes. I think so.


Now that we’ve talked about the various aspects of the sale itself, lets talk about things that are potentially threatening to your mission.



This is the equivalent of shopping in quicksand. Social obligation and real life tell you that you should listen to the guy, give a few head nods and attempt to further the conversation. He wants to tell you the history of the item you’re looking at, and out of the corner of your eye you see someone paying for some flower frogs, and your mission is being compromised. What do you do? Since this is garage sale land, you have limitless options. You could say “Oh that’s great,” and continue walking. You could use that cell phone of yours to fake a call. You could point up to the sky and say something like “is that a hot air balloon?” while you make your escape. You could even act mentally unstable and start banging on things. Maybe add a helmet to your list of things to bring.


This is a tough one. Unlike the conversationalist, we have to deal with husbands on a daily basis, so real life definitely applies. You can not claim mental instability on this one. He may suggest that…but you can’t. Do not ignore the call. Do not say “I’m only going to one more.” Do not try to buy him something thinking he will be ok with you being gone all day. You have to prepare him for the worst a day ahead of time. You have to say “hey honey, I am going to go garage sailing Saturday, probably until dark. I might not even come home and I’ll most likely buy a UHAUL full of stuff. I promise to spend less than 100.00 and I promise to buy you something you might like if I see it.” This way, he can be happy that you’re back around 3 with only a truckload and only spending 60 dollars. Maybe that will work….


Don’t have coffee before you start, don’t drink a ton of water. Moderation is key. Pace yourself so you don’t have to “go real bad” 10 minutes into an amazing sale. For people like me, this is hard. I have a bladder the size of a small bead, I’m convinced. I keep a coffee can in the car with me while I garage sale….just kidding. I am just really really good at holding it.



Are you obligated to shop with them now that you’re both there? NO! You are probably going to be stuck with an awkward conversation, especially if it’s someone you haven’t seen in awhile. Make it quick. Make it as not weird as you can. “The sky sure is blue!” “Yep!” “Well…see you…..sometime….later.” Never mind that you’ll run into them multiple times at the sale. This is the most awkward, since you’ve already severed the conversation a first time. You can either ignore them at this point, or make a comment like “oh that’s a good find” before you jet out of there.


These are obviously just a few, but you’ll be that much more prepared next time. Do you feel equipped? Are you ready to get out there and throw some bows? (That’s elbows for you gangster-challenged individuals) I hope so. I hope I have taught you well, and that you get the finds of a lifetime. I want to know your funny garage sale stories, your mission-compromising things, and your tips. Comment away!

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Vintage Junky said...

love it. all of it.

Kelsee said...

This is exactly what we go through every time we go garage sailing! My mother-in-law, sister in-law and I go at the crack of dawn, have a team huddle before we leave, we make sure we have a list of things we are looking for and hold each other back from buying yet another window (that's my weakness!). We usually end up getting things and talk about each other's houses and if "this" item replaces "that" do you want it? Oh yeah, its the best and yes, I know the Buick lady!

Samantha2818 said...

I SO want to go to a yard sale! You make it sound like so much fun! Maybe I should start a craze for them over here although with our weather it's not likely to catch on!
I did go to an antiques barn with a friend a few months ago and we both wanted the same wooden crate/box and I won so perhaps I am a yard sale expert in training!
By the way I've found that when trying to persuade my husband to let me spend or buy more that beer or a day fishing is a pretty good bribe. These usually work for me!

Ms. Bake-it said...

Oh my word, I certainly do know the Buick Lady! I only allow my mother and one of my friends to join me for garage sailing. All others have been kicked off the team! Since I am single the hubby rule does not apply and the kids know not to call me when I am thrifting or garage sailing unless it is an emergency! If they do, they know the penalty will be that I drag them along the next time!

~ Tracy

Olive Cooper said...

This is great and oh so true. My hubs and I are yard sale partners but he is far more ruthless than I am. He has cobwebs on his wallet. Plus he never wants to stop "just one more" he says. I started him going and I created a ruthless monster. BTW he buys me anything I want! No cobwebs as far as I am concerned. He always get the price reduced or does not purchase. I do this also but not as effectively. I am too much the sweet Southern Belle. Your advise is so priceless...well done! olive♥

Amy said...

Ha ha! You made me laugh out loud with this one girl! And I'm pretty sure I've received a few glares from that same Buick lady- grrrr (I always like to give her a super cheesy smile and say "And how are you this fine morning"- I think it makes her even grouchier). Just another tip to those Mommies who stick their kids in front of the car DVD player (the one you said you would never use- ha!)a little Ziplock of Cheerios with a few hidden chocolate chip treasures mixed in adds a few more stops to your morning. And if you're really needing to buy more time- a little Dum dum sucker- yes, even if it's only 8:15 in the morning. :) See you "on the court" this weekend. :)

Leslie @ goodbye, house! HELLO, HOME! said...

You are one funny chick!
I'd SO go yard saling with you and I would not be afraid to bow anyone outta your way for ya either--I'd be your 'bow bouncer!
In fact, I am the yard saler that grabs anything and everything at a yard sale that is even remotely interesting, and piles it in front or next to the "pay" table, letting the seller know I am adding to the pile. Then, when I am all done looking around, I come to my pile, I sort through it and put back what I decide I don't really want, LOL! I have made a few folks mad, but hey, I got what I wanted, LOL!
I am not so bad as all that at every yard sale, really.
Your escapades are exactly what I would have written--
LOVED it!!
My rule: NEVER any kids. Because, although, I can hold my bladder, they won't ;)
Hugs and blessings,
P.S. Lemme know when you need me to 'bow! ;)

fairyrocks said...

Thanks for the laugh with my morning cuppa....
I think I have seen a flash of you leaving with some of the better items.....my kids were the ones hanging on the horn and turning the stereo and windows up and down...I pay them to do this, it distracts even th toughest die hard salers LOL

Bree Johnson said...

we need to meet you could potentially be my new best friend this made me laugh so hard!

Kathy said...

This is hilarious! Love it, and hey neighbor...I live in Kalispell during the summer...how about you?

Sweet November said...

This is hilarious! I'm at the hospital visiting my mom and I read this out loud to her. We definitely got a kick out of it.. and I couldn't help but laugh at how true this is.

I once entered a garage sale to a woman, who was leaving, crying. She was that upset that they sold a couch to another person and upon hearing the sales woman talk, the woman threw a fit before leaving and crying.

It made my day that much more perfect! :)

Caroline @ The Feminist Housewife said...

Your post absolutely cracked me up!

I need to put on my game face and wake up a little earlier on Saturday! = )

Emily said...

Love it, love it, love it. You covered it all so well and I couldn't help but laugh out loud. I've been a yard-saler since I was in diapers and claim to be an addict at this point in my life. I LOVE IT! In fact, I think that I've probably encountered you at some of my recent yard sales but have gotten away without any "bows." We certainly need to meet so I plan on being at your next White Market! Thanks for the post...and the laugh!

MommaHensCoop said...

This. was. so. funny!!! You are just too cute for your bloggin' jeans!

Indigo Bleu Photography said...

This is one of the funniest things i have read in a long time. I love it and so true!