Monday, May 18, 2009

Glorious Garage Sales!

Just a few of my glorious garage sale finds!

My favourite item of clothing in my wardrobe is a skirt, it is a 'Lisa Ho' design (a renowned Australian designer), it is long and black, beautifully cut, it falls in tiers trimmed with cream antique style lace - I love it and wear it often. I have lost count of the number of compliments that I have received when wearing this skirt, I have been stopped on the street by other women and asked where I bought my skirt! When I tell them it's a Lisa Ho, they say 'I thought it looked designer but I can't afford labelled clothing, I tell them the truth 'I bought it at a garage sale and it cost me $5!'

Garage sale glamour!
Most of my clothes are designer label and/or vintage
found at garage sales, recycled clothing stores and market stalls.
I love
to wear dresses and pretty feminine clothing.
I do wear jeans! I paid $30 for this pair by Georgio Armani. The designer jeans are always so well cut

Brocade and Lace
The ethnic dress coat is from Pakistan. I wear it over dark 'Country Road' pants which have a gold fleck through the fabric. The 'pretty in pink' top looks great with blue jeans. It is by 'Ashley Wilson'. Bot
h were found at garage sales.

We began to shop at garage sales on a regular basis about five years ago when we had to travel into our regional city centre each Saturday morning for ice skating and surf lessons. Of course, most garage sales are held on Saturdays. We soon discovered that it was not just bric-a-brac being offered for sale, people sell all kinds of stuff at garage sales - books, plants, furniture, homewares, camping gear, tools, craft materials and of course clothing even designer label clothing. It soon became a favourite family activity and it didn't take long for me to become addicted!
Garage sales should save you money and it is here I must send a warning. If you are prone to hoarding or have a weakness for collecting certain items you will find the object of your desire at garage sales be it fabric or tea cups! Garage sales could be your downfall - emptying your wallet before you even realize it. It pays to take a set amount of cash with you (you do not have to spend it all either!) and when that is exhausted do not be tempted to go to the ATM, even if you are only halfway through your itinerary.

We have saved money by shopping at garage sales. Thanks to people who are prepared to sell their unused, unwanted and unloved items for a fraction of what they originally paid, I can

*dress myself and my children in designer labels and quality clothing

*furnish my home with unique vintage pieces

*add to our extensive home library

*stock up the craft cupboard

*bring greenery into my home with potted plants

These are just some of the benefits of garage sales. It makes sense in this economic climate when family finances are being tightly squeezed to get the best value for money, you are also helping the planet by recycling, it is true that something regarded as junk by one person can become treasure to another.

Some garage sale essentials.. for me anyway!
The mobile comes in handy when I have to ring home to let my husband know I'm going to stop at a few garage sales on the way home from town!

Here are my tips and advice if you are planning a morning shopping at the garage or yard sales.

1. Go early! Most sellers will advertise an 8am start but some of the best sales start earlier at 7am or even 6am onwards! You will soon notice the regulars - the 'hoarder buyers', the second-hand dealers and those who buy to resell on ebay, they are always there first and some will buy up well-priced items in bulk before you even have a look-see!

2. Go late! It is sometimes worthwhile to visit a few garage sales around lunch time. People who are desperate to clear out their clutter or are moving and do not want to pack up their surplus will often slash their prices. We bought our current desktop computer at a garage sale, we had seen it earlier in the day (it was up and running so we knew it worked) and returned after lunch and found it unsold, we put in an offer and instead of having to pay around $1000 for a new computer to replace our laptop that had died, we paid only $150 for an 18 month year old computer with an LCD screen. It has never had a problem either!

3. Buy the newspaper and use highlighter pens to mark the sales you want to go to. Cross out the ones too far out or those that sound meagre. Combined households are usually worth visiting. Map out a route so you are not driving all over town and backtracking.

4. Take a street map or use your GPS. You will always come across a street name you don't know and some suburbs and estates are like rabbit warrens!

5. Have someone navigate! That is usually me and my husband still does not believe that I gained my map reader badge at Girl Guides! With my eldest daughter navigating last weekend, I managed to miss a turn- off on the highway. I pulled over and checked the map, it showed an alternate route from the next exit but what the map didn't indicate, was that this was a private road or that it was a narrow winding mountain road. As we climbed higher and higher, it wasn't the spectacular views of the coast that made my heart miss a beat, rather, it was the drop off on the side. Knowing that we would soon be hopelessly lost, I was fortunate to find a small patch of dirt where I was able to turn around the van ( had to do a 50 point turn mind you!) We eventually found the garage sale via the conventional road and it was truly pathetic!

So tip 6 is: Be prepared to get lost sometimes and tip 7. Be prepared to be disappointed sometimes!

8. Take plenty of change and small denominations of notes As I mentioned earlier, have a budget for your garage sale spending and do not go over it.

9. Do not buy what you do not need or cannot accommodate in your home. Another person's clutter could be yours too! I love pretty china, the English girl in me swoons when I see tea cups and sometimes complete dinner sets strewn with roses, often at very reasonable prices but I do not have a dresser to display china and my buffet unit stores our everyday tableware and my special dinner set, an anniversary gift from my husband (The Apple Bee range from the Royal Horticulture Society of England). This is the china I will choose to display on the dresser I dream of owning one day. So it is with some reluctance that I leave behind the china tea cups for someone else. Occasionally, I break my own rule of 'no china' when I find something so pretty at a price so low it would be crazy to not buy them... I will find somewhere special for these cups and I will use them for any future 'girly' events such as afternoon teas that I hold in my home.

These pretty sets were $2 each. I love the lily of the valley design

The same rule applies to furniture. My home has full length glass doors in the family/dining room and a limited number of walls to set furniture against. We always buy quality pieces, sturdy furniture that will not need replacing for many years and therefore, there are very few items of furniture that we need but when we did need to buy beds for our twin girls, we scoured the garage sales and found a matching pair of vintage iron beds in need of restoration. They cost only $15 but a lot of sanding and painting was required to restore them to their former glory. We purchased new mattresses for the girls as I am not happy to use second-hand mattresses for cots or children's beds.

The beds have matching ends.
They are an unusual size... wider than a single but shorter.
I will turn them into day beds if the girls grow too tall!
The vintage style quilt covers were found on sale at the Sheridan factory outlet.
I believe in buying quality bed linen in
classic Dora or Barbie!

10. Take a tape measure with you especially if you are searching for furniture, blinds or drapes. Write down your home's dimensions in a notebook, so if you do come across the perfect set of bookshelves, you can measure them to be sure that they will fit in your alcove. We are renovating our home having built a new extension. I knew exactly what window treatments I wanted ... a cedar blind for the bathroom and floral drapes to match the living room ones for the French doors in our new hallway. However, the budget was spent, I would have to wait but guess what, at a garage sale I found a brand new cedar blind still in its packaging. My husband was home so I called him up on the mobile and checked the window measurement. It would be a perfect fit and it only cost me $10! On the same morning at a different sale I found two sets of drapes with pencil pleats in the exact pattern for the french doors ... cost $4 a pair.

My favourite floral curtains. These are a classic rose design by Gainsborough that Spotlight has stocked for many years. I have the same drapes in the living room and hope to have the same ones on the master bedroom window. I have the matching bedlinen. I like to have the same window treatments throughout the house, as I believe it adds to the design flow and gives a sense of continuity to a home. Knowing your sense of style and what look, whether it is country, modern, ethnic or classic, will best suit your home can really help you to avoid design mistakes and save you money!

Coming soon, in my next post ' Glorious Garage Sales Part Two' - more tips and advice for getting the most out of garage sales, including ' Buying for baby - beware!' -practical advice for furnishing a nursery, a price guide for buying at garage sales and more pictures of my best buys.

Hope this has helped you so far!

With love and joy,
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