FOR YEARS, I SHOPPED garage and rummage sales primarily out of necessity. These sales provided an inexpensive way to clothe my children and decorate and furnish my house.
They also proved a great source for books. I would buy gently-used books for my kids and for the library at the Christian day school they attended.
Sometime during those years, I also began buying vintage tablecloths, trays, bowls, glassware, pictures and mirrors. I like old stuff, especially usable old stuff.
These days, with the attitude that I really don’t need more things, I’ve become selective about bargain purchases. On Saturday, for example, I passed up a $5 mirror.
Even though I’m adhering to that stricter policy of buying only what I really, really like, and/or what may be valuable, I do not apply this rule to others. I tried convincing my friend Lois, whom I saw at a garage sale on Saturday, to make an impulse purchase. She made the mistake of telling me that her father-in-law likes John Wayne. That’s all it took for me to pitch a $35 near-life-size stand-up cardboard cut-out of John Wayne as a birthday gift for Herman.
Lois is to be commended for not giving in to my peer pressure. She settled on an 8 x 10-inch photo of the star that cost her only a few dollars.
A silver-plated mirror purchased for 50 cents.
While Lois had her John Wayne, my morning of garage-saling had proven fruitless until I picked up a round, silver-plated, mirrored tray for 50 cents. I have no idea how I will use it, but I like the piece and think it may have value.
I love the colors in this vintage tablecloth, added to my collection.
Then, later in the day, I scored my big finds. My husband and I just happened to see the yard sale while en route to Walmart. In other words, this was not a planned stop. Here I found a vintage tablecloth for $5. It was the colors—vivid lemon citrus mingled with blood-red and blue-gray—that drew me to the floral print fabric. Those hues are rare and I was happy to add this to my collection. And, yes, I use my tablecloths.
A vintage TV tray becomes a work of art.
Then, my husband discovered two TV trays in the most beautiful orange, yellow and deep rose florals. Each cost $1. I collect vintage metal trays too, with or without the folding legs. I removed the legs from one of my new trays and propped it atop my entertainment center as a piece of art. I often re-purpose my finds. If I need the tray for its real purpose—dining—I’ll pop the legs back onto it.
A leaf-shaped, three-legged dish from the FREE box.
I nearly left my final treasure behind in a cardboard box. It’s an odd-shaped melamine scooped serving plate that rests on three legs. Imprinted on the bottom are the words: “UNION PRODUCTS INC. LEOMINSTER.MASS. CAT.#2729″
I had picked the curved dish up and then placed it back in the box because it was a bit grimy. I figured I really didn’t need it. But then, when I learned that everything in the box was free, I snapped up the dish. With some scrubbing, the dirt washed away.
Now I have this lovely green plate that, I suppose, could hold raw vegetables or any assortment of food. But when I study the gentle curves, I see simply a fine piece of art.
I WOULD LOVE to hear your garage/rummage sale stories. Why do you shop these sales? What treasures have you found? Did you find a valuable item dirt cheap? Share your stories in a comment to Minnesota Prairie Roots.
© Copyright 2010 Audrey Kletscher Helbling