this new periodic feature, Bob Brooke offers personal insights into the
world of antiques and antiques collecting.
One Person's Trash is Another's
by Bob Brooke
Itís that time of year, when the weather
begins to warm up and people begin to hold garage sales. These are the
point at which most antiques enter the market. But unlike the 1960s when
the garage sale phenomenon began, todayís sellers know the relative
value of what theyíre selling, so items arenít necessarily cheap
Garage sales used to be great venues for bargain hunters. The contents
sold at a garage sale are usually items the seller has outgrown
physically and/or emotionally. Antiques at these sales often belonged to
a parent who has died and left them to one of their children who donít
want them. But with the introduction of eBay, sellers often find they
can get more for an item online than in their garage sale. Those who do
choose to sell older items usually look them up first on eBay and price
There are four different types of buyers at garage sales: flea market
and antiques dealers, antiques pickers who then sell to dealers,
collectors, and those out for a morning of fun with friends. Which one
In order to be a successful shopper, you have to be organized. If youíre
looking for specific items, itís important to make a list of what you
want or need. If youíre a collector, make a list of pieces missing from
your collection. This will help you stay focused from sale to sale. Itís
easy to to get off track when you find unexpected bargains, especially
if youíre working within a budget.
It used to be that sellers advertised
their sales in the classified sections of local newspapers. But with
newspapers slowly fading from popularity, sellers are turning to special
local garage sales sites on the Internet. If you have a smartphone, you
can check the ads that list sales with antiques and collectibles in your
area and carry them along with you as you shop. Garage sales in
established or older neighborhoods are more likely to have antiques and
older items for sale. Those sales, hosted by 30 and 40-year-olds, often
located in newer subdivisions, tend to have mostly household items and
childrenís clothing and toys.
you have set up your goals, prepare to go ďsaling.Ē Youíll need a few
items to make your shopping easier. Besides a measuring tape, you should
bring along a map, magnifying glass, snacks, packing materials, boxes,
and a sufficient amount of cash in small bills. Wear comfortable shoes
and layered clothing, especially if the weather forecast is uncertain.
Also carry along a transparent shopping bag and a fanny pack. The fewer
outer garments and other accessories you have to deal with, the easier
it will be to shop.
Most garage sales begin between 8 and 9 A.M. Though the old adage, ďthe
early bird catches the worm,Ē often applies, you need to be aware that
sellers need to get ready for their sales. Pickers especially, often
pester, and in some cases harass sellers days before or early in the
morning before sales begin. Often these buyers tell the seller a sad
story about how they canít make the weekend sale because they have to
work or because a family member is ill. This is not only unfair to other
shoppers but is also unfair to the sellers, who are so anxious to sell
their items that they give in to anyone making an offer. Nothing is as
frustrating as arriving at the start of a sale only find the best items
Once you arrive at a sale, take a quick overview of everything. Don't be
timid. Ask where particular items are located if you donít see them. The
sooner you get to the area, the quicker youíll find what you want.
nearly all cases, all sales are final. Therefore, always inspect your
goods carefully before you purchase. Concentrate on items in good,
complete and working condition. If youíre a dealer, youíll want to get a
receipt for goods you may have purchased.
While most sellers price all their items before the sale, some do not.
These lazy sellers often judge you by what youíre wearing and will quote
prices for what they think you can afford to pay. So forget the designer
clothes. Itís important to look like an average shopper. This applies to
your vehicle as well. If youíre driving a Mercedes, a BMW, or the like,
park it a distance away.
Some sellers will let you barter for items. If you think an item is too
expensive, it doesnít hurt to ask what the lowest price would be for an
item. If the seller says the price is fixed, donít belabor the point.
Either pay for the item or say ďno thank youĒ and move on.
a garage sale runs for more than one day, you may likely get a better
price for what you want on the second day of the sale. Sellers often
reduce prices on the second day of the sale to get rid of items.
Of course, you risk the possibility your treasure may have already been
bought by that time. Leaving a reasonable offer with your name and phone
number is another way if you feel the object's price is beyond your
means. It gives the seller an alternative if the piece hasnít sold by
the end of the sale.
When buying furniture or other bulky items, try to arrange for a timely,
later pickup convenient with the seller. Always retain a receipt that
identifies you as the new owner and present this information on your
return. If you can fit in some of the piece's components, take them the
day of the sale, as this will ultimately lighten your final load. At the
time of pickup do not rely on the seller to supply tools or manpower.
Itís up to you to provide both.
In the end, chances are when you unpack your treasures from the day's
sales, youíll discover you not only saved a bunch of money, but you also
made some outstanding purchases. After all, one man's trash is another
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