Thursday, May 21, 2009

Glorious Garage Sales Part 2

Pretty dresses all in a row! All were found at garage sales

This is a follow up to my previous post 'Glorious Garage Sales'. We are up to tip number 11 which is Target affluent suburbs We have found that our best garage sale purchases were found in the more established, wealthier suburbs. I am always looking out for quality children 's clothing and it is in these suburbs that I find the designer labels. I guess parents must update their children 's wardrobes each season and buy far too many clothes - many of the items I find are like new and sometimes even unworn, as some mothers admit to me that 'grandma bought her that dress for Christmas and she didn't like it and refuses to wear it'. These are usually the prettiest of dresses that my girls love to wear and I am more than happy to pay a few dollars for a brand new dress that must have cost grandma a small fortune!
I also buy clothes for the girls which will fit them in a season or two. These lovely skirts will fit them next year. The cord skirts are by 'Seed' a top quality children 's clothing boutique. I usually cannot afford to outfit my girls in clothes from this store.

It is in the more affluent suburbs where I find my clothes; sometimes I am fortunate to come across a sale where there are whole racks of size 8-10 clothes stacked with labels such as 'Sass & Bide', 'Ralph Lauren' and 'Charlie Brown'. As the husband shakes his head and quizzes his wife on why she is 'getting rid' of so many of her clothes, I wonder too but gladly take them off her hands knowing I will wear these outfits for many seasons to come!
I do not find as many boys clothes (boys are so much harder on their clothes!) or clothes suitable for my husband but he does have some NBL baseball shirts which cost him a couple of dollars. They were in perfect condition.

You will also find that homeowners in the more affluent suburbs, not only update their wardrobes regularly but also their home's interior. We have a lovely mirror with a lead light surround in a timber frame which coordinates well with the antique washstand in our en suite bathroom. It was found at a garage sale where the owners obviously tired of the 'country look' were selling most of their home contents and they were not moving! Furniture, rugs, lamps, cushions... everything was top quality and for sale at very reasonable prices.

12. Know your prices and establish what you are willing to pay. After a while you will realize that some sellers (especially older people) over value their goods and have unrealistic price expectations. I arrive at a garage sale and check a few price tags and I know immediately whether or not the items are over-priced. If several items seem expensive, usually the rest will be too. We do not hang around or attempt to barter unless there is something we particularly want. At another sale it is apparent that the sellers were truthful when they advertised bargains and I am more than happy to pay the asking price.

Here is a guide to what I expect to pay for clothing. Prices are in Aussie dollars.

For ladies clothing $1 to $5 per item. I have paid more for designer jeans but once again you should compare prices. I paid $10 for 'Morrisey' jeans and at another sale found the seller was asking $80 for designer label jeans. Although the jeans retail for a lot more, this was a garage sale, not a recycled label store. And then there are the absolute bargains.... my 'Thomas Cook' (an Australian country clothing range) velvet jean jacket which cost me 50 cents and I used to have a gorgeous 'Allanah Hill' lambswool cardigan which I managed to splash with ink.... I was so annoyed but never mind, it only cost me a dollar!

For baby and children 's clothes from 50 cents an item up to $5 for designer label dresses. I know my chain store labels. At one sale a seller may be asking $3 per item for 'BIG W' clothing (I believe this is like Wal Mart) and then at the next sale you will find 'Pumpkin Patch' and 'Osh Kosh' for the same price. Some sellers will allow you to make bulk buys and pay less if they have a lot to sell. There is no harm in asking. When I was pregnant with the twins and informed sellers I was offered multiple items for reduced prices... I did really well!

13. Check for faults - stains and rips in clothing and linen, hairline cracks in china and pots, scratches on DVDs. Ask to plug appliances in. My current toaster and iron both top quality brands came from garage sales. I even found an ironing board to replace my old rickety, rusty one!

14. Buy for baby but beware. When we found out we were expecting twins we had given away all of our baby items... donated to the church creche before we moved to Australia! We found most of our nursery furniture at 'The Tender Centre' a second hand store where you submit written tenders. If your price is the highest and meets the sellers reserve you win the item and are obliged to buy it. We tendered on a solid cot and change table both newly painted and paid a lot less than we would for new furniture. We did buy a new mattress however.
Baby goods are one of the most popular items I see for sale at garage sales. Cots, prams, highchairs and much more. It pays to exercise caution, as not all equipment will conform to current safety standards. If you are considering buying a cot, check the base boards, distance between rails and the latch mechanism. Check its age, older painted furniture may have lead based paint. Beware of antique cots with fancy high rails that a child's clothing could become caught on, posing a strangulation risk. Best to buy these style of cots for displaying your antique doll collection rather than for baby! The same applies to high chairs and prams. Check the fold down mechanisms, brakes and straps. If you are vigilant and know your brands it will make shopping a lot easier.
I am not an advocate of baby swings, walkers (dangerous!) and other plastic contraptions to confine babies (safety gates would be the exception) I see all these 'added extra' nursery items at many garage sales and consider them to be an unnecessary expense... it's all about saving money, so don't be tempted into buying stuff that you will only use for a very short time which will clutter up your home.
At garage sales I did find a change bag (as new for $2) and a baby sling for 50 cents! I went on the net to check its price and found it was an $80 sling... what a bargain!

15. Toys can cause turmoil! I truly believe parents buy too many toys for their children and I have not fallen into the trap of buying up cheap toys from the garage sales. I do not buy soft toys which need to be washed frequently and can cause problems for children with allergies or asthma. I am wary of plastic toys in regard to the recent recalls of toys made in China, which included so called reputable brands.
But there are some toys we have found at garage sales.... bikes (check brakes and tyres) and skateboards in excellent condition. We also look out for games, puzzles and of course books! I am on the search for wooden dolls house furniture for the big beautiful dolls house complete with shingles and veranda, we were given by a neighbour.
If you are wanting outdoor play equipment, it may be worth taking a trip around the garage sales. I often see good quality outdoor toys ( ' Little Tikes slides and cars, for example) at very reasonable prices.

Books and puzzles I found at garage sales. I paid no more than $3 per item.

I also find books for me....craft, gardening and cook books too. I usually pay around $1 to 3 for books

16. Factor in the time of year and weather conditions. If it is wet on the day and there is no undercover area, some sellers will postpone but if they do have shelter and have paid for advertising they may still go ahead. You will find less buyers and hopefully more bargains.
If is wet in the lead up to the weekend there is a likelihood of less sales.
Spring is a good season for sales when many people do heir traditional spring clean and clear out their clutter. After Christmas (remember it is summer down under!) this is when people get rid of their unwanted Christmas gifts. We bought a brand new hammock for $10, an unwanted gift, it was a $100 hammock.

17. Look out for unusual hobby items that people have grown tired of and given up. I have seen lead lighting kits, woodworking equipment and complete craft room clear outs.... sewing machines, fabric, lace, scrap booking items. If you are considering taking up a hobby consider checking out the garage sales for the equipment and materials you require. We are hoping to keep bees in the near future and found a beekeepers helmet, jacket and smoker at the same garage sale where I fitted out my craft cupboard (see my post from earlier this year 'The Craft Cupboard' to see the goodies I found.) Obviously, both husband and wife were giving up their hobbies!
One of the more unusual items we found was a set of archery bows and arrows. The main bow was wooden, my husband insisted that they are very expensive to buy. The second bow was more suitable for the children and they were all excited as we debated whether to buy them. The seller then knocked $20 off his asking price and my husband and children have enjoyed practising their archer's skills in the paddock! (into a straw bale in the paddock, do not have a target yet.)

18. And finally 5 items you will always find at garage sales and should never buy new!

* foot spas... when I was pregnant with the twins and my ankles became very swollen towards the end of the pregnancy, a foot spa (purchased at a garage sale) was very soothing. However, I haven't used it since that time! They are one of those novelty electric items I am certain people only ever use once!

*Bread making machines

* Fondue sets

* Exercise and gym equipment and all manner of ab-saucers and ab-flexers purchased on the home shopping channels!

*Doughnut makers, pie makers and other gimmicky kitchen appliances. Must add here though, if you do find a slow cooker and you do not have one they are a real asset to your kitchen! I have only recently purchased one (brand new from the tender centre.... came with brand new juicer and steamer for $50) I wish I had bought one years ago!

So always remember the golden rule when you head off to the garage sales... 'Do I really need this?' Is this going to save me money? Do my children need any more toys? Does my home need any more clutter?'

I would love to hear about your garage sale adventures and your best-ever bargains and city girls, how on earth do you choose from so many sales? At least you will not have the experience of being hopelessly lost on a road which leads up a mountain and hopefully you will not back over and flatten a rural mailbox as my husband did once (drawbacks of vans) - I am so pleased it was not me in the driver's seat! We could have sped away, no witnesses but we were very honest and went and told the owners or should I say I sent my husband to do this as I knew they would have suspected the wife of being the culprit! We promised to buy them a new mailbox and went to Bunnings to find a replacement, thankfully, it was a very basic mailbox. We returned with the new mailbox and the people were very surprised and appreciative but that was the end of the garage sales for us that day!

I do believe there are blogs dedicated to the subject of treasure finding and rummaging at garage sales, markets and op shops, so I'm off to check a few out!

Until next time.

With love and joy,

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1 comment:

A Bite of Country Cupcakes said...

I get excited just hearing abut your bargains and savings at Garage sales where we used to live there were Like 40 or more a week!
All within mins of each other.
I adored it and saved tonnes.

Here Rurally We are lucky to have 1 or 2 a year!
I though have to learn to leave things behind as a bargain is'nt a bargain if you do not really need it.


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