Friday, July 25, 2008


Who doesn't love a sale? The word just screams to come check it out. The trick though is to know what is a steal of a deal and what is a so-so deal. Winnipegger's are notorious for being a bargain hungry bunch. We know good deals when we see them and rarely pay retail or full price unless we absolutely have to! There are lots of second hand and gently used stores in the city and you never know what you might find hiding on a rack or tucked in a shelf or a discount bin!

"Garage Sale", "Yard Sale", Tag Sale" are all the same idea - just different names. People have sorted through their belongings and decided to sell what they don't need or use. Most people will try making a little money by selling it on their own first. What doesn't sell the first time will sometimes end up being added to a friends sale or donated to a local charity for sale/distribution. It can be an awful lot of work to prepare everything, price, setup and advertise your sale. There is always the possibility of rain or ridiculously hot weather the day of your sale - but there will always be people there to pick over your prized possessions like vultures and pass judgement on your taste as they offer you half the amount on the sticker price! Even if your sale starts at 9:00AM and you specify "NO EARLY BIRDS", there will be people trying to get a head start at 7:00 as you are doing the set up! Personally, I've only done a couple of garage sales, but I was able to sell a fair amount.

I'd much rather be on the other side of the table looking for the deals!
When I was in my late teens, my mom and I started going to garage sales to look for things for my first apartment. We'd check the papers for garage sales in nearby towns, then head out early Saturday morning. We'd start in Winkler or Morden (depending on who had the most sales), but also look for signs along the boulevards for last minute sales. It wasn't unusual for us to hit 15 or more sales in a few hours. We weren't interested in clothes or electronics. We looked mostly at housewares, books and music. Over a couple of years, I managed to find all my cookware, bake ware, tableware, some cookbooks and countless other items.

Over a couple of weekends, I got extremely lucky and manged to find my entire cookware set over about 5 or 6 sales. My mom had the old "WearEver" cookware that was really solid and almost impossible to burn in it. That is what I grew up using and I really hated the cheap stuff I'd bought at a discount store. We found two sauce pans a large deep fry pan, a skillet and a dutch oven - all with lids! We checked them all carefully to make sure there were no pit marks or other damage. The fry pan was slightly warped but that was easily fixed. Dad always kept a block of wood to lay over the underside of the pan, then he would pound it out with a hammer. He'd been doing that with moms pots for years. The pots were stained inside and needed a thorough cleaning. Another simple problem to fix. We got a bunch of crab apples off one of our trees and cut them in half. We filled each pot, then put a bit of water in each and let them cook. The acid from the apples cleaned the pots and left them looking like new! (We gave the cooked apple slop to the farm animals.) I spent less than $20.00 for all of those pieces and still use them today!

In the early 80's a friend and I found a pair of end tables for $20.00 and paid $12.00 at a yard sale and managed to convince a bus driver to let us on the bus to get them back to my apartment! A couple of months later I bought a platform rocker for $15 (asking $20) and carried it just over 1/2 mile home. I have also carried a coffee table a 1/4 mile. I've stripped and refinished tables and small free standing cupboards from sales.

Oh, the things we won't do for a good deal!

I haven't done much garage sale shopping in the last ten years or so. It's not that I don't need things or that there aren't any in my neighborhood. There are plenty of sales and lots of things I'm sure I'd eventually find that I had no idea I needed! It's more that I don't trust my sight to tell me if there are real deals for me. Unless I'm shopping with someone who knows my tastes and what I may be interested in, it really isn't that much fun for me anymore. Too bad though, as I'd swear that I can hear the sale signs calling me to come see what they've got!


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