Thursday, March 14, 2013

Garages Are Not Just For Cars

Another week has passed and it is still winter here in the Midwest, I can tell by the snow falling from the sky again.This year the thermometer has been bouncing around like Mexican Jumping Beans on a car's hot dashboard not knowing whether to be cold warm or just flat out miserable. In any case I know that the end of the cold and snow is near and in another month or two the world and my attitude will take on a new look. Gone will be the feelings of not wanting to leave my home for fear of the cold and no more shoveling which that in itself could be a good reason to move to a warmer part of the country. I can remember as a child my parents friends going south for the winter months and I never understood why you would want to leave the winter wonderland in the height of its glory. I get it now and someday I may turn into one of them fleeing the cold for the balmy winter temperatures of the low to mid 70's like a nomad of ancient times and being branded a "Snow Bird."

Now that our clocks have sprung ahead the next big event is the start of Spring, that is unless you are Irish then Spring is the second big event. Spring .... ah yes, the season of rebirth, growth and a built in feeling to clean our closets and homes. Sifting through the stacks and piles of articles that have accumulated for no reason other than we can not bare the thought of sending them off to a new home. It does not matter if we have looked at something in sometime let alone used it we still cling to it with a weird comfort that it is in the back of the closet just in case. Tradition has made us believe in spring cleaning so we sort, clean, dust, scrub, vacuum, wax and then in the end pile all our forgotten treasures back in the closet thinking we will make a plan to rid ourselves of them. The thought of making the plan is sometimes much better than the action and the next year we religiously follow the same plan of attack as we did the year prior thinking this time it will be different.

For those who have the will power to purge their homes of these unused articles it is the perfect time of year to host a garage sale. For others like myself this is the time for exciting treasure hunting excursions. Keep in mind that all Garage/Yard Sales are not created equally and what holds treasures for some may be nothing of interest to you. If you are a hardcore Garage Sale shopper you know the ins and outs to make your trip successful and worthwhile and if you are a novice I will share a few of the secrets that will help you load your SUV or trunk with delightful articles to enrich your surroundings.

Like Christopher Columbus a little planning and research will land you in the right spot, or at least close to it. Take a look at the Classified section of your local paper, most news papers will have a section devoted to Garage/Yard Sales, Estate Sales and Auctions. Another good place to locate upcoming sales is on Craigslist where you will find a section listing Garage Sales under the "For Sale" heading. Read through the listings choosing the ones that have an interest to you and write down the address or neighborhood that the sale will take place. Pull out your local map and plan your attack! Set a schedule that will take you from one sale to the next with the least amount of travel time in between, it is all about time management to hit the good ones early and the ones of lesser interest later in the morning. Yes I said morning, if there is something you are particularly interested in get there early, more than likely that beautiful Mid Century carved teak wood statue  will not be there later in the day.

Along with planing your route deciding which sales are most suited for you is just as important. If you are looking for antiques and mid century items a sale in a newly developed subdivision of suburbia more than likely is not going to yield the treasures you seek. It would seem to make sense that you would find sales in these locations to have driveways lined with tables of children's clothes and plastic brightly colored and somewhat faded toys. It is good to know your neighborhoods as the vintage treasures are more than likely to be found in the established older neighborhoods with older families. If you are not familiar with a particular neighborhood do little investigative work before the sale day. Drive through the neighborhood and see what the feeling is, bikes and toys strewn about the yard may imply that the sale will be a lot of children's articles where a well manicured yard and no signs of children may hide that wonderful set of Heywood Wakefield nesting tables.
When heading out for the day pack a survival kit with few bottles of water, some high energy snacks, hand sanitizer or baby wipes and a good attitude. Everyone at some point likes to play dress up and this is the perfect time to pretend you are a high end interior designer. Get yourself a stylish tape measure and make a notebook filled with paint swatches from your home and dimensions of areas you would like to fill. There is nothing worse than trying to decide if the blue chair you found will clash with your living room walls. Instead of contemplating if the chest you fell in love with will fit in the entryway of your palace you will have the correct dimensions with you so decision will be made much easier for you... it fits, you love it, buy it! 

Shop for items that offer something special and unique that provide the opportunity to add flair to your living space that can not be found at the big box stores. Vintage furniture is a great starting point to fill your home with unusual shapes and forms. You may find a wonderful and unusual piece but the upholstery is a little less than desirable since rust and green floral is a little tough to work with. Don't despair fabric can be fixed broken legs are another story.

We have all heard the term "Good Bones" and this is especially true when it comes to vintage furniture. Make sure that you sit in it, not upright and polite but how you would lounge in it at home. Feel the frame for any possible cracks and listen when you sit down and rock back and forth a little, if it sounds like the frame is cracking or squeaking you may want to pass on this particular piece as its "undercarriage" may need more repair than it is worth.  Bad upholstery is not the end of the road for a piece of furniture but it does cost a little to rectify that burlap plaid. Apartment Therapy offers a fantastic guide for how many yard it will take to recover a piece of furniture turning it from an ugly duckling into a swan. Print out this guide and add it to your notebook, you may not use it on one hunting excursion but may come in handy on the next. Also keep in mind that a sprung spring poking up is not the end of the road, an upholstery professional can retie the spring making it as good as new. Maybe you will find that incredible piece that you can transform from furniture into "Fun-iture!"

With your finds in hand keep in mind that most individuals hosting a Garage/Yard sale are looking to make a little extra pocket change so don't go flying in with extremely low offers on items you find especially in the first few hours of a sale. If there is a item that you are in love with pay the price that is asked or make a reasonable offer that will not offend the seller. It takes a lot of work to organize and set up a sale and more than likely by sale day the person is exhausted from the long extra hours added to their day. The last thing you want to do is to offend a person that is teetering on the edge of exhaustion. As always cash is king! Make yourself two stacks of cash, one with big bills and the second with a couple of fives and the rest ones. There is nothing more insulting to a seller than a low offer and agreeing to it because of their illustrious story and then having the customer pull out a role of twenty dollar bills! Big bills in one pocket and small bills in the other may save you a moment of embarrassment and humiliation.

Now that you have your purchases home make sure that you clean them very well. Most sales offer clean items but you never know so play it safe and make sure you are not bringing home more than you paid for. Don't let this scare you into not experiencing the thrill of the hunt there are treasures out there to be found and reclaimed. The more we seek out these vintage treasures the more variety we will have in our homes and lives and decreasing the burdens on our bulging landfills.

Next Time ...

The ins and outs of auctions


Normally at this point I would include a fun recipe for you expand your culinary repertoire but this week is a little different. You see I am normally not a political person and believe everyone has a right to own views in life as long as it does not cause harm to others. This past week I attended our Mayors "State of the City" address and found out that Forbes staff writer Kurt Badenhausen had listed Rockford, IL number 3 in his 2013 America's Most Miserable Places To Live article. My question to Kurt is have you actually visited Rockford, met the citizens and spent time discovering all that it has to offer? I doubt it. Oddly the outcome of his article is proving to be opposite of it's intent. Instead of Rockford hanging its head low in shame the city is fighting back with a new advertising campaign "Misery Loves Company, visit Rockford Illinois"  BRAVO to the City of Rockford for taking lemons, making lemonade and most importantly selling it! Take a look at what we have to offer here its a pretty spectacular place to live! 

 Misery logo slide

Watch the Video Of A GREAT CITY! 

Next Time ...

In and outs of Auctions



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