Ah! During yard sale season (which runs from March until early November here) a sign like the one pictured brings joy to my heart. As a vintage seller (children's books, cookbooks, and cards), I shop yard sales for work. The treasure hunting aspect of yard sales is real and fun.
I usually shop with my best friend, who hunts for vintage books, religious art, architectural items, and the quirky, unusual, and fun. We have a rating system for yard sales:
1. This is a great sale, usually either multi-generation, multiple families, or an older person conducting the sale. Vintage items abound! Prices are fair. Items are on shelves or tables and easy to see.
2. This is a good sale with nice things, occasionally something for us, but often things we don't buy - i.e. baby clothes, electronics, CDs, DVDS, etc.
3. This is the sale with boxes of junk pulled out of a basement, broken items, old mattresses. Yikes - how soon can we get out of here?!
Most sales we find are 2's on our scale, with perhaps one or two 1 sales on any given day. Those 1 rating yard sales make it all worthwhile.
The most amazing sale I ever went to was a multi-generation estate sale, family run, that went on for a whole weekend. I kept going back and back and buying car loads of treasures. This was perhaps 10 years ago -- I bought paper dolls, vintage children's books, vintage toys, and more.
I almost purchased a First Edition of Gone With the Wind at that sale. It had a long two page inscription to the original owner from Margaret Mitchell. Just as I was checking out, someone from the family holding the sale decided they couldn't part with the book ... so I lost out.
The nicest find I ever purchased at a yard sale was a baseball book called The Splendid Splinter about Ted Williams. I know very little about baseball, but purchased this on a whim for $1.00. I could not find an online reference for it, so I started bidding at $49.99 on eBay. Someone immediately wrote me and asked if I would close the auction for $100. I knew at that point that this was a great find. It sold for over $600 to a baseball collector, and I was thrilled.
My most embarrassing yard sale story was when my friend and I were going through a neighborhood and stopping at neighborhood sales marked with balloons on the mailbox. One house had balloons of a different color and style, but we assumed this was just coincidental. There were a lot of cars out front. We went into the garage, which was crowded with great stuff. I took two vintage pictures off the wall. We didn't see a place to check out, so we assumed the sale was inside the house as well (as sales sometimes are). We opened the door ... to find a birthday party being held for an elderly man. It was not a yard sale at all! We were mortified and highly apologetic. We left as quickly as possible.
I have many more stories, and more blog posts to come about yard sale adventures!
I will offer three tips for you about yard saling:
1. Take small bills. Don't lose out on a sale because a seller cannot make change.
2. If you are purchasing a stack of items, ask for a bulk deal, i.e. "what would you take for this stack?"
3. Be friendly! Be nice! I always speak to the seller as I enter the garage or house, and usually say something nice as well (i.e. "beautiful day for a sale!" or "you have lots of neat things here"). I am chatty and often find that sellers will show me other books that they hadn't put out. I have found some of my best estate lots just by being friendly.
Sales have been a little sparser this year. Maybe it's the economy, or the extreme heat and humidity we have had in Georgia recently. The little stack you see below is what I found today: 10 or 12 children's books, a sewing pattern, and a community cookbook. But -- we had fun, and I know there is always next week waiting!