Wednesday, June 25, 2008

One Man's Trash: Power Garage Saling

My parents were in last weekend. They live in Michigan, and Dad volunteered to come here and stain our deck. It hadn't been stained since... oh, the last time he offered to come and stain it. Since then, it's dealt with several blazing hot summers and a golf ball-sized hailstorm, so it was in need of a little TLC.

Here's something you should know about my mom: Since she's retired, she's become a crack garage saler. I mean crack. She and her best friend Gloria head out early on Thursday (the day most sales start, and the best day to scope out the good stuff) and don't return until late afternoon, often with whatever minivan they took out laden with unbelievable bargains. At the beginning of the season Mom will ask what we need, and next time I see her, she'll have it. My coffee carafe is stained and melted on one side? She's got a new one she found for $1. I think it would be cool to have a pedestal cake stand? She's got an unused one from Williams Sonoma for which she paid 50 cents. The boys and Sylvia are at least 50% clothed in garage sale finds: Ralph Lauren, Nordstrom, Baby Gap...

I don't garage sale as much as I'd like, but I love to go out when I can. And over the years I've picked up a few bargains: Unused black Doc Martens for $3.50. Shelby Foote's History of the Civil War for $2 per book. Vintage turquoise canisters that matched my (at the time) vintage turquoise kitchen. And the little wooden chairs for Sylvie that are still awaiting my gaining some painting prowess. So with Mom here on Saturday, I twisted her arm and begged her to head out with me, Tommy, and Sylvia. As you can imagine, with an infant and a toddler in tow, we didn't hit as many sales as she and Gloria typically do, but the kids were golden, and in about five sales, and spending about $32 between us, we picked up some gems.

The biggest coup, from my standpoint, was at the last sale. I'm slowly making Sylvia this hand-quilted wall hanging (from Last-Minute Quilted + Patchwork Gifts) to go over her crib:

I'd decided to get her a red gingham crib skirt to go with it, and found what I wanted at Pottery Barn Kids. But it was a bit rich for my blood -- $59 -- so I figured I'd make her one instead for about $12 or $15. I've been watching for sales on gingham, and I'd even purchased the Pottery Barn Kids matching lamp shade when it was on clearance. And guess what I found at the last garage sale? (I'm sure you're all on pins and needles.) Yep, the red gingham Pottery Barn Kids crib skirt. For $3. I also picked up a great Tommy Hilfiger bed skirt for when Sylvie is in a real bed, as it matched the twin-sized quilt I've envisioned making for her.

We passed up several bargains, including a hand-stitched vintage quilt for $25, vintage McCoy vases for $15, and a serving for eight including bakeware of Pfalzgraf pottery for $15.

Here's what we bought:

  • $7 A kids bike Mom is keeping for when the grandkids visit
  • $1.50 Three pieces of little boys' clothes, including like-new Levi's
  • $3 Crib skirt
  • $3 Bed skirt
  • $1 Four painted ceramic drawer pulls that will work with Sylvie's new dresser
  • $5 Handcrafted wooden box with forged iron handle made by a blacksmith in Door County, Wisconsin*
  • $3 Leather Coach purse (I just learned the style is "Station Bag"; who knew?)
  • $.15 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory card game that Tommy spotted
  • $1 Old Ptery (from Pee-Wee's Playhouse) wind-up toy
  • $1 Old-fashioned kaleidoscope that Mom bought Tommy
  • $2 Plastic dart board, in the box, that Mom bought Max
  • Free Vintage Santa candle that Tommy spotted and the homeowner threw in for free
* Note that I was on the fence about the handcrafted box, but when Tommy started doing the pee-pee dance and the homeowner immediately came over and offered up her bathroom, I bought the box.
As a testament to Mom's hard-driving bargain style, when Tommy, who loves the 20-year-old series Pee-Wee's Playhouse, saw the Ptery wind-up toy, I immediately snatched it up, knowing we wouldn't be seeing another any time soon. Mom saw the price and clucked her tongue, noting, "They're asking a dollar for it!" I forked over the dollar, without even trying to bargain, feeling a bit indulgent.
At this point, it looks like I'll be spending the weekend painting Sylvie's room a cream color, as the apple-green-with-purple-trim Phil painted the room six years ago isn't going to go with her new gingham digs. I'm a little sad to be spending all day Saturday in her room, though, because who knows what kind of bargains might be awaiting me?

1 comment:

Hooked on Houses said...

Love that wall hanging with the birds. How sweet! Sounds like her room is going to be darling. And you can't beat a deal like that--$3 for a Pottery Barn crib skirt! Makes me want to hit some sales around here this weekend and see what I can find now. -Julie