On Garage Saling: Arriving Early

How many spring, summer, and fall mornings have I spent parked on a residential street with a cup of coffee, a sweet roll, and a good book waiting for some sign of life at a certain address? Am I a stalker, an undercover officer, or a private eye? No, I’m a dedicated garage saler waiting for that garage door to open so I can start my day of bargain hunting!

Why so early? When that garage door opens, all car doors open promptly.  As all hard-case salers know, the best “stuff” disappears quickly. Looking for a nice couch or power tools? Better be there early.

How early is too early? There is some disagreement on this point. My sisters feel it is cheating to start shopping when the “door” opens if it opens 20 or 30 minutes before the time published in the local paper or ad shopper.  If the seller’s response to my polite inquiry, “May I look around and start shopping now?”  is “Sure! Go right ahead!” or “OK—I just want to get rid of the stuff! “ my attitude is, in the words of the immortal bard, “All’s fair in love and garage saling”!

What kind of stuff have I found? I was out for a pregarage sale walk with a friend when we noticed a man with the garage door open setting up a sale. He let us in to look, but we didn’t have any cash with us. He agreed to let us reserve items to buy if we promised to come back right after our walk and haul them away. (I love it when men are in charge of sales because they usually price low and just want to get stuff off the property as quickly as possible.) That is the morning I found my $5 grandfather clock.

Was it the most expensive clock when it was new? No, we think they got it free with the purchase of a new sofa or dinette set,  a midrange value—not the cheapest, but not the most costly. The guy told us it didn’t work.  After breaking every rule of transporting grandfather clocks to get it home, my husband put it back together and adjusted the works. It now ticks gently and keeps perfect time as I type on my laptop. (In the spirit of complete transparency, I must note that it doesn’t chime—a disappointment to me but not to the rest of my household!)

I have also found that you have to be Johnny on the Spot or earlier for new building supplies, such as  flooring and fixtures. I bought an unopened case of recessed lights for $10 that my husband used in remodeling our laundry/bathroom. I have some nice tile in my entrance way and some high-quality laminate flooring in one of my bathrooms for 50 cents a square foot because of arriving early at the sales of tradesmen and general contractors.

$25 Wall Oven! I found this jewel at a church sale--have I mentioned that I LOVE church rummage sales? Installation of this oven is high on the honey-do list. Unfortunately, my husband is going to have to move one of the living room walls five inches to accommodate this frugal beauty!

$25 Cooktop! You wouldn't believe how expensive cook tops are--this one was in mint condition when I located it. It was taken out of a convent kitchen during a remodel! I bought it at a local Catholic church rummage sale. This photo could also be used as a "before" picture for our upcoming budget kitchen remodel. More about that later!

I also find lots of gently used, big-ticket household items, such as my cook top, wall oven, and clothes dryer for $25 each.  My salvaged, high-end stainless steel kitchen sink cost us $3 at a local garage sale.

$25 Dryer! I found this jewel early in the morning on my way somewhere else! Fortunately, I break for garage sales. This was sitting in the driveway with a much older washing machine. The woman's husband had bought her a new set and so a perfectly good, late model, high capacity dryer was on the driveway for sale cheap to make way for new stuff!

Don’t be shy about showing up early. There are plenty of bargains out there for all of us. Begonia

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