Monday, November 30, 2009

Retro-Post: Confessions of a Junk Sale Junkie

I didn't post my weekly column last week because I was too busy lying around in a food induced daze (it's hard work, people!).  So, here's a column from 2001 to get you ready for Christmas shopping at the thrift store. :)

Published January 20, 2001
St. George Spectrum & Daily News

I have a confession to make.  I am shopper.  I feel a certain thrill whenever I venture out in search of that perfect something.  I've come to believe it's the prehistoric "gatherer"instinct in me.  It's in my genes.  My mother is a shopping goddess, and as much as I hate to admit it sometimes, I am just like my mother.

This leads me to my second confession:  I am very, very cheap.  If I can't get it on sale, I don't want to buy it.  I refuse to buy anything new if I can find the same item used.  And at least one Saturday a month is spent in search of yard sale bargains that I can proudly display to friends and family.  And believe me, I do wear this skill like a badge of honor.

Being a benevolent person by nature, I have decided to impart this great wisdom on you, my adoring public.  I have compiled a list of rules and strategies which I am offering today only in what I'm affectionately calling the "JUNK SALE JUNKIE SALE OF THE CENTURY!!!"  I pondered calling it the sale of the millennium, but that would be excessive, don't you think?

RULE #1: Every yard sale deserves a second look.
Maybe you think you can tell from a perfunctory curbside glance whether or not a yard sale will yield your next treasure, but this is simply untrue.  Sure, those orange dresses, circa 1970, are a powerful repellant to most inexperienced garage sale shoppers, but they may be hiding a Giorgio Armani original...or at least a great Halloween costume.

RULE #2: The early bird gets the dirty looks.
Do no, I repeat, do not show up to a yard sale before the advertised opening time.  You need the sellers to be your allies, and this is the easiest way to make them your enemies.  So, just don't do it!

RULE #3: Haggle, haggle, haggle!
Let's face it, folks, this is used in, somebody has already worn it, slept on it, read it, or otherwise USED it.  The price is always negotiable, and anyone holding a yard sale who believes differently has no business in the business.  Even if you only manage to reduce the price by 10 cents, that's 10 more cents to spend as you see fit.  That romance novel on the book table isn't looking so out of reach now, is it?

RULE #4: When it comes to thrift stores, time is your new best friend.
When you head out to a thrift store, make it an event.  Wear comfortable shoes, pack provisions, and plan to spend a minimum of one hour.  You absolutely cannot afford to miss a good deal, so you're going to have to spend some time at each rack. As you become more practiced at this, you'll be able to whip past polyester pantsuits without so much as a second glance until you come upon the perfect find.

RULE #5: If all else fails, Go West!
Now, I'm all for shoping in my community and helping the local economy, but there are some things that simply can't be found in the Southern Utah area.  Chalk it up to the prevailing values of industry and frugality.  People here just don't seem to shop frivolously, which means their yard sales won't turn up that outrageously expensive item you've been craving.  A quarterly pilgrimage to that great yard sale Mecca is definitely in order.  Can you say, "Las Vegas?"  Believe me, that autographed  Velvet Elvis will more than make up for the gas.

Now that you're all educated in the intricacies of second hand shopping, I urge you to go out and put your newfound skills to good use.  Get out there!  Find those bargains!  Slay that shopping dragon!

What? You're low on funds because you overdid it during the holidays?  Hmmmm...maybe you could hold a yard sale.