Thursday, June 21, 2007

Garage Sale America

I must admit, I love a garage sale. I am not the kind of person that gets up at the crack of dawn and attacks poor homeowners hours before they are ready to put out their merchandise for sale. You know, the dreaded earlybirds. I'm more the "stroll in around 11" kinda garage sale shopper. In my city, most of the sales are on Sunday, not Saturday, and they tend to start later. Us Jews evidently like to sleep in.

It is rare that I'll just drive by a yard sale. If I see one, I'm gonna screech to a halt to see what they have. I've gotten some great bargains. A huge bag of yarn, still in nice neat skeins for $1. Lots of clothing for my kids. Books. CDs and DVDs. Even some furniture. To me, yard sales are all about buying a small piece of history.

When the MotherTalk folks asked me to please review Garage Sale America, I jumped at the chance. Who could do a better job of reading all about cheapskate decorating? I'm a natural! Note that I got this book gratis, and will be compensated with a $20 Amazon Gift Certificate for this review.
What I didn't expect when reviewing this book was the nostalgia factor. The author, Bruce Littlefield, evidently absolutely adores artifacts of my childhood. Photo after gorgeous photo showed things I grew up with, or that were in my friends homes. Things I never ever expected to be "collectible" like my best friend Cheryl Bronstein's Barbie lunchbox. Or my mom's old Waring blender and Pyrex storage dishes. Much of the items featured in the book aren't the kind of stuff I buy at my various garage and yard sales, but it sure was fun to look at all the stuff of my childhood that is now labeled "Mid-Century Modern". Totally cracked me up!

The book has great hints for both buyers and sellers. One tip sheet, called "10 Steps to a Good Deal" teachers how to bargain successfully, something most Americans are terrible at. In my years as a yard sale maven, I've seen some really poor attempts at trying to reach a compromise price.

Garage Sale America has some great finds. It lists the worlds longest yard sale, the world's largest garage sale, and even covers the foods found at the world's largest garage sale. Does anyone know what a McMethodist Muffin is? Evidently you can score one in Warrensburg New York at the world's largest garage sale. At the world's longest yard sale, you can drive 450 miles beginning in Jamestown Tennessee. The book states that there is rarely a mile without a yard sale held for 3 days in August.

If you like particular items, such a Bakelite or Lalique glass (I'm in the Lalique group), Littlefield gives you plenty of information to try and figure out if the piece you've spyed is real or fake. There are writeups on various collectibles, from marbles to Barbie. There is literally something for everyone in this book.

The last part of the book is my personal favorite. It shows how to use your finds to decorate your home, and the example shown is the author's own home, filled to the brim with all sorts of quirky yard sale finds. It's not exactly my taste, but it's way cool. I just wonder who has to dust all that stuff! There are a bunch of photos of his kitchen, and the one I loved best was the green kitchenette with the cow pitchers on the splash back. Oh, you have no idea of how that made me laugh. My crazy mother collected those cows. She had hundreds of them. They used to sit in little niches in our dinette off the kitchen, where we ate our meals. Hundreds of cows staring at you eating. Hundreds of cows mooing silently at you. Oh man, that is a crazy memory!

There are some great decorating ideas here. I thought the school roll up map of Europe was a brilliant window shade. I wish I had thought of that for the Boy's room when he was younger. He would have loved it. I love the furniture he found for the porch. Made me think of being a kid again. So comforting.

I've had my share of yard sales. Most of mine have been successful, netting several hundred bucks with each sale. I've sold a lot more than I've bought over the years. In fact, we're about to hold another yard sale sometime this summer. Wanna come? I've got great junk!

And, if you're going to miss my yard sale, this book has a listing in the back of all the not to be missed yard sales all over the county. I wish I could go to all of them. They all sound great!