JUST THINKING: One person’s trash is another person’s treasure

Just Thinking | Julie Stafford

Yesterday I went to my first garage sale in years and scored a couple of beautiful wicker chairs at an awesome price. What I know about myself is that I’ve never been a great haggler and that when I go into buying mode at these kinds of things, I’m pretty much going to pay asking price. In fact, the thought of trying to wheedle someone down a few dollars can actually throw me into a full-fledged sweat.

But there’s a whole group of folks – many of whom were out there with me yesterday – who hit garage sales every weekend and love the art of bargaining. And it’s definitely an art.

I once did a story on garage sale junkies in Colorado and discovered that for some folks it’s a way of life. I talked to a popular television weatherman whose wife bought all his ties and shirts that he wore on screen at garage sales. Some of their trash to treasure finds included a huge fish tank, a living room sofa set, pots and pans, and even some kind of full-sized rollout tennis court that took up their back yard.

I discovered, too, that a popular trend was to laminate a map, sift through the newspaper classifieds on Wednesdays for Thursday, Friday and Saturday sales to plot a garage-to-garage route with an erasable marker. The cool thing about that was that the map could be used from week to week, year to year.

As an occasional garage sale host, I know that some folks look for the same specifics every weekend. There are the guys who pull to the end of your driveway, leave their engine running and do a quick peruse to see if you’ve got albums of any kind. There also are the ladies looking for decorated tins to put things like cookies and crafts in. Then there are the moms looking for toys in good shape and the avid readers looking for books.

I’ll never be a garage sale junkie and I’m in a phase where I’m trying not to bring anything into my house that doesn’t have a purpose. But after yesterday, I realized how easily I could have come away with a lot more than wicker chairs. When it comes right down to it, it’s not all that hard to justify making one person’s trash your new found treasure.

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