Your Yard Sale Sucks. Mine Rocks!

While I don’t hit yard sales with the zeal I used to, my boyfriend still really likes them (he doesn’t get to trash pick nearly as often as I do), so we’ll try a few on the weekends when we can. We went by one today that was so dismal, with so few items, we didn’t even bother to stop. Which reminded me I meant to write about the not-a-lot-of-stuff yard sales. Is there nothing more disappointing than a yard sale with a handful of items (actually, a torrent of rain on a trash picking day after a neighborhood/community yard sale is pretty disappointing)?

So far this year, my boyfriend & I have only been to maybe, two really good, large yard sales. When I mean good, I don’t necessarily mean because of great finds that we score, but the volume & variety in a yard sale just makes it fun to check out. From an effort perspective, I don’t understand why someone would advertise, put signs up, price items, take up a good portion of their day, and then have a yard sale with items that can barely fill a table! I could see this if someone is participating as part of a community or neighborhood yard sale, or if you live in a city, where you get a lot of foot traffic anyway. When you live in a suburban area where people have to make somewhat of an effort to get to where you are, the decent thing is to have stuff for them to look at. At least in my opinion…

While I have yet to have any real photographic evidence since I always forget to take photos, the yard sales we host ROCK! With the volume of collecting & finding we do, having a few yard sales a year came about as more of a survival skill to continue collecting (the space in the antique store is a great outlet too!). Our yard sales are large, prices are dirt cheap (easy to do when you get most of it passed along or from the trash!), and we have a great mixture of new & various levels of used. We’ve only had four yard sales, but I lost count at the last one of how many people told us about the great deals they’ve gotten at our sales, and that they look forward to when we have them.

Any thoughts? How do you feel when you approach a yard sale with few items? Do you stop & look or continue on down the road?

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Pros & Cons of a Crowded Booth

I’m not one for presentation [note at the date of this posting, still have generic banner for site], or for what I call, the bells & whistles. It’s not that I don’t have an eye for it, or understand the benefits of how something is presented, It’s just never been something I’ve wanted to put much effort into. While I’m creative & in my mind, I’ll have a few ideas of what could be done to make something have more of a ‘wow’ factor, I often get distracted by a pile of trash, a good zombie movie, a squirrel running in the yard, or a snake almost making a meal out of a large toad (TRUE! a few weeks ago, interrupted a snake that had a circle hold on a toad! The snake, toad & I were looking at each other in a state of shock…). When consulted by a friend or coworker, I’m more than happy to offer suggestions or ideas, which are more often than not, successfully put to use.

My boyfriend and I were discussing the ‘presentation’ of our space at the antique store, and he wanted to make sure to address the pros & cons of a crowded booth. We limited it to two each.

Pros:

*Enough stuff that no matter who comes in, they’re going to find something that they like.

*Booth is very eye-catching & colorful.

Cons:

*Can’t remember what sold, or what was added to booth & is now missing.

*Booth is an assault on the eyes & customers may be overwhelmed & unable to make a decision on what to purchase.

For someone who doesn’t make many purchases, I think an awful lot about buying & shopping. I know there are some very simple things I can do to make our space more appealing, but, I guess I’ve always been the sort of collector or shopper that can cut through the glamour or dirt to find an item that for whatever reason, speaks to me. However, I am going to make a conscious effort to take more photos of the space as a whole (in addition to individual items), as it helps me see it from a different perspective.

How about you? How do you feel about presentation? What kind of environment do you like to shop in?

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Trash Picking As A Competitive Sport

We had an AMAZING day trash picking the flea market yesterday – (more individual item pics will be up soon, but for now, a few views of the truck)! I had to unload my blue wire bag lady cart about five times – which, in the midst & high of a good trash picking day gets me a little fidgety because I know in the ten minutes it takes to get to the car & unload, I’m missing out on other picking opportunities. I’d say ‘panicky’, but the things I missed out on, well, how can I really miss it if I never had it in the first place?

The rational, kind-of-sane part of me knows there will always be finds to be had, but the super-crazy-having-a-trash-picking-BLAST part of me gets a little jumpy. As much as I love seeing other people pick & even conversing with a few, I do sometimes feel a little….competitive. I’ll admit, I was walking back from unloading and saw another picker with a cart going by what looked like a REALLY good pile & even though I was a good football field away, I was willing him away from it with the power of my mind (actually, in my mind a bunch of ninjas came at him from all sides & got him to move on rather quickly – without hurting him of course).

When we first arrived, I was wheeling my cart around with one hand, trying to hold coffee with the other, & my boyfriend states, “I should outfit that with a cup/beverage holder”. I’m laughing of course, because, duh – I’ve thought of that countless times, but, it’s readily followed with thoughts of what else can be fastened to the cart – pliers? spray bottle? screwdriver? walkie-talkies? safety glasses? If I were cruising city streets or neighborhoods on foot, I could see it – but when the car is in view, I’m thinking outfitting my trash picking cart is a bit overboard….there just has to be a stopping point. I do wear sturdy work gloves, & have a bottle of water, granola bar, & a tiny screwdriver in my possibles bag. Oh, the strategy involved with trash picking a large flea market….

How about you? What tools do you keep with you (or in your cart!) when picking?

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Blue Squirrel Cement Figure – Lifelike!


While my AWESOME blue cement squirrel wasn’t a trash or yard sale find, my guess is it came from close to it – judging by how much I paid for it at an antique store. The paint is solid as it was outside in the elements & has really held up!

Lately, my zeal for collecting has been on again, off again. Actually, I’ve lost a lot of enthusiasm for paying for finds – no matter how cool or inexpensive, when I know I can always trash pick! That, and I’m finally getting a workspace back together so I can make/paint/glue/hammer/sew all the cool bits into something that, if I saw it at a yard sale or flea market, I’d totally want to buy it. When I’m not trash picking it, I have, like most collectors, a few things I gravitate toward – like animal figures made of cement/wood that don’t exactly have the color of the actual animal.

What are some things you like to collect? Do you collect things that are of a particular color, material, or specific object?

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Picking Trash After Yard Sales


Despite trash picking since I was a child (read about my first trashpick here: http://www.trashfinds.com/?p=5), it wasn’t until a few years ago that I discovered the push-it-to-the-curb-after-the-yard-sale bounty of stuff. Or, as a good friend of mine calls it, “the yard sale after the yard sale”…

I get a little miffed in terms of people throwing things out rather than finding a way to rehome them, though I do enjoy the finds. When I see some of the prices people were trying to get, I can see why some of the items didn’t sell. I don’t get it – if you’re going to push it to the curb or haul it to a thrift store ANYWAY, why not take a lesser price? I’m assuming a lesser price was offered judging by the kind of items I’ve found that ALWAYS sell around here…if reasonably priced. For instance, the picture above is Maggie on a sturdy pet-friendly (pet friendly = washes & dries quickly & can handle Maggie spending ten minutes making a nest out of it before she lays down…) bandana blanket I really like, & had I been at the yard sale, I would have wanted to buy it, but it was priced about 70% higher than I would have been willing to pay. As a result of the high-priced-for-a-yard-sale-around-here sticker, I was able to trash pick it anyway…

When I have a yard sale, I price a few things so people can get an idea of where our prices are, but I don’t price 95% of what we have. The sheer volume of what we have to unload is certainly a factor, but when it comes down to it, I could spend time pricing, OR spend time picking & gathering more, so that’s what I’m going to do. I also like to have the option to alter the prices I’m thinking I may want for something according to the person (fine, I’m profiling based on personality & gut-feeling, but my stuff – my sale).

How about you? Whether you’re a buyer or seller at yard sales, do you like to negotiate prices? Would you rather see every item priced, or just have a general idea while at a sale?

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Spending Time Outside Of Our Comfort Zone

This past weekend, my boyfriend & I mingled with a good friend & his friends at a ‘pre-concert’ gathering (two things I’m really not into – large crowds & tailgating….). While we had an ok time, all I could think about was the sheer volume of disposable waste. This ‘tail-gaiting’ event is one where people really get into decorating their parking spot areas (is that something that happens regardless of the event?), and I can’t get into that for two reasons:

Onedecorating & the proliferation of items intended to throw out is not what I consider a good use of money or resources.

Two that’s an awful lot of energy & effort used to sit around and drink. .

Fortunately, I had whiskey & beer to placate me (I have to add though, bringing empty beer bottles home with you to recycle, no matter WHERE they are in the car, could provide a very uncomfortable situation if one were to get pulled over).

Our friends friend’s (ok grammar police – issue your citation….) are nice people, but our day to day lives are very different. I realize my choice for my day to day life is very different from a lot of my neighbors & coworkers in my suburban area, but as much as they probably can’t fathom trash picking, dumpster diving, or bartering, I can’t comprehend going to a store to buy some mass-produced item not Made in the USA (liquor store/Irish whiskey excluded). While it’s rare that we leave our comfort zone of making, building, reusing, watching movies & getting our Zombie combat gear together, I guess I should be thankful for opportunities to see ‘how the other half’ lives.

How about you? Where is your comfort level when it comes to spending your leisure time with people who’s lifestyle is very different from your own?

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Superstitious Trash Picking & Collecting

Like many other ‘sports’ (uh, way of life..), trash picking or general collecting is not immune to some individuals having, I guess I’ll say ‘superstitions’. For instance, baseball players who are convinced if they change their socks, they won’t play well, or poker players who have a lucky hat. While they are more actions or thoughts, I have my own superstitious quirks when it comes to trash picking & collecting in general, and though I don’t necessarily truly believe them, there have been way too many a ‘coincidence’ for me to ignore them. The following really waves my crazy flag high:

If I don’t have my seat belt on, I won’t find anything. In neighborhoods where houses are close together, I’m often stopping within just a few houses – kind of a pain to buckle up for a 15ft. drive at 10 miles an hour – BUT, if I don’t – said item I’ve stopped for will be useless to me as a find, or not a find at all (recycling days always throw me off)!

If I plan more time in advance, I won’t find anything. Sure, I’ll give myself an extra half hour before work, but if I try to get an hour or so in, I don’t find much. Or if I try to plan the night before, it’ll rain. Exceptions to this include the week or two after Christmas & the week after a big neighborhood yard sale.

When I talk (or write about) about a particularly good neighborhood or route, I’ll find nothing remarkable for a few weeks.

If I’ve had a disappointing haul & decide to pack it in, if the thought suddenly pops into my head to try a street I normally don’t, I have to as there is always an unexpected, great find. I can’t even have thought about it before that instant…it has to be an inner ‘Hey! We Should try that street…’

If I want it NOW – if I personally have something I need/want and am a little impatient, I won’t find it for weeks…maybe even months…

If I have anything of size in the car when driving by an unexpected pile, there will always be a find…

Regarding Yard Sales/Flea Markets

If I have less than $5 on me, there will always be an AMAZING yard sale where all my finds at a reasonable price total more. Thankfully, there’s usually an ATM within driving distance…

If I’m walking or come upon an unexpected flea market, if I don’t have a bag or cart, I’ll come across a boatload of stuff.

If I don’t have coffee with me, the finds are less than stellar before 10am. Coffee in hand yields awesome finds at awesome deals! Really. I can’t even put it down to rummage or look. I can put it down to closely inspect something, pay, or load stuff into the car.

So, what are your superstitions or quirks when it comes to trash picking, dumpster diving, or collecting? Leave a comment & tell us your story!

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Being Selective With Trash Shopping

I was talking with my boyfriend about how I’m going to have to shop for a new baby mattress (what I use as a dog bed) and realized I view trash picking the same way as many do going to a shopping mall.  The streets not yet passed with the garbage truck are my shopping mall.  I sincerely was thinking ‘shopping’, and in my head I’m cruising the neighborhood, window shopping for trash. Sometimes I take an item home, sometimes I don’t. The whole ‘needs’ vs ‘wants’ items falling into play…at least with everyday items.

I don’t like to trash pick non-submersible items (i.e. what I can’t put in a washing machine ) – see prev post about bugs & critters here (http://wp.me/pZyJ6-43), but baby mattresses do hold up well for our dog – this last one held for about two years.

How about you?  Are there certain items you are reluctant to or won’t trash pick?

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Public Education – Saving Taxpayer Money With Trash Picking

In a previous post, http://wp.me/pZyJ6-4v, Shopping The Trash Through Sales Circulars, I wrote about how I rarely buy new. However, I do occasionally enjoy ‘pricing’ items that I’ve found in the trash. Generally, I do this online, comparing new & used prices. My boyfriend’s recent obsession for a particular type of material to make a sheath for a sword has led us into a few retail stores – mainly craft & office supplies. Seeing items I trash pick available for purchase in a store with real live shoppers just blows me away – especially when I see the prices!

A good friend of mine is a teacher, and over the years I’ve found lots of stuff for her classroom & school that otherwise would have had to be purchased. Here are a few finds from within the week, now gracing a few classrooms:



Sure, the plastic file folder isn’t the most exciting, but it was in the trash when I stopped for the chairs! Items I’ve found for her school include (but are not limited to): filing cabinets, refrigerators, dry erase boards, chalk boards, bulletin boards, shelving, TV’s, drafting tables, rolling carts, outdoor patio seating….

When another teacher is looking for some items (especially common office or classroom things), they always ask my friend, “Do you think your trash picker friend could find it?”. I love being able to connect people & finds!

How about you? Do you take requests for finds from friends, family or co-workers? Have you had success?

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The Pursuit Of A Good Trash Find

While my love of the free find drives me, as a collector, I explore avenues aside from trash picking – auctions, yard sales, flea markets, estate sales. Sure, I love the thrill of the free trash find, but more than anything, I love the hunt. Give me a big ol’ box of stuff (the older & more random the better!) to root through and I’m like a kid on Christmas. I enjoy marveling over the great find later, but for whatever reason, the high I get from the actual moment of discovery is just one very slight step above owning the item.

How about you? What do you love most about the activity involved with collecting? Is it the hunt, the item itself, or your travel along the way?

(Pic is of a pine fishing rod rack trash find my boyfriend & I picked up recently. He fishes, so can actually use this. I just really enjoy the beer drinking that is associated with fishing…)

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