Monday, June 8, 2009

Such a Deal

(This is a post I wrote about three years ago for my long-abandoned first blog. It says a lot about why I love bargain hunting)

There is no bigger thrill than a good deal. I can smell a bargain from a mile away. A red "sale" tag makes my heart skip a beat. I gravitate toward the back of the store, the odd collection of bits shoved to the side, thrift stores, free crap on the side of the street. Close-out, Overstock, and Liquidation are the most beautiful words in the English Language. Would that every day was Tuesday Morning. I brake for yard sales.

I consider myself a treasure hunter, not a shopper. Anyone can go to Nordstrom and pay $100 for a $100 shirt, or to a dollar store and pay $1 for a $1 bottle of glass cleaner. Neither scenario has any challenge. I want the $200 skirt for $35 (my beloved Eileen Fisher grey silk) the $5 Razor scooter complete with carrying bag (have fun Max!) or the $.50 mint-in-box genuine Snoopy mouth harp (the prized item in John's Christmas stocking)

When I grab a great deal I feel savvy, creative, smart - I am a winner and there are no losers. I recently read a book by the founder of one of my favorite web sites/communities "Get Crafty." The author put thriftiness and craftiness into a larger context she boldly calls a "manifesto." Bargain hunting and thrifting not about being cheap, mean or even particularly acquisitive. As much as I love yard sales, I don't have much interest in having one. I'd much rather find a good, appreciative home for my excess stuff than to try to squeeze a couple of bucks out of it. The real motivator is rejecting the mainstream consumer culture, extending the life of products, putting your own stamp on things and living well within your means.

I'm also intensely curious about things that are none of my business, and usually too shy to ask. Picking through the piles at yard and estate sales is a little window into other people's lives that is endlessly fascinating. You can learn a lot about people from their stuff, and it's fun to imagine the backstories behind the 1970's disco dress, the collection of self-help books, or the seemed-like-a-good-idea-at-the-time orange dinette set.

So I've been feeding my passion this summer by mapping out a yard sale schedule using the Craig's List ads. I spend a couple of hours on Saturday, usually spend no more than $20 and collect fabulous things I never knew I needed. Highlights from this summer so far:

  • Black wrought iron Halloween candle sticks with orange beads - $1
  • Black iron "Haunted Tree" Halloween tea light holder - $1
  • Black and white striped knit Jack Skellington gloves - $1
  • Halloween "drip candles" - $1
  • Razor scooter with carry bag - $5
  • Play tent with quad chair - $3
  • Vibrating cold/hot neck massager - $2
  • Leap Frog Multiplication Twist Game - $1
  • Rollerblades for Max - $3
  • Bike Helmet for Max - $5
  • Pop-up Atlas of the World - $1
  • Little Lit Book - $1
  • Clip Mobile - $.50
  • Full bag of Papier Mache mix - $2
  • Huge bag of black & pink tulle - $1 (OK, this was a little silly - not sure what I'll do with this stuff...)
  • Three narrow storage units - $5
  • Set of 4 Little Rascals DVDs - $10 (more than I'd usually spend, but I got some free stuff earlier that day...)
  • Two 3-foot Foam Bolsters - FREE!
  • Set of architectural stamps and idea booklet- FREE
  • Big box of assorted beads and jewels - $.25
  • Wood box for organizing cell phones, watches, sunglasses - $.25
  • Set of glow-in-the-dark stars - $.50
  • Huge Rubbermaid storage pitcher - $.50
  • 20 red, gold and silver Chinese food boxes - $2
  • Huge tote basket with leather handles - $4
  • Rain boots for Max = $2
  • Cranium Cadoo Game - $1
  • Scrabble Junior Game - $1
  • Spider Man roller backpack - $5 (brand new - still had tags!)
  • Rubbermaid bottle for Max's lunchbox - FREE
  • YoYo - $1 (new - still in package)
  • Magnet set featuring antique map of Paris - $1
  • Wood slingshot - $1

Whew! I'm sure there are more that I'm forgetting. Can't wait to see what's out there waiting for me next weekend...

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