Monday, October 12, 2015

Sometimes It Pays to Eavesdrop

Those tricky Episcopalians! They start their rummage sales on Thursdays instead of the usual Friday or Saturday. So it was only by chance that I ran across their Craigslist ad on Thursday morning and quickly texted my posse. KK didn’t find the text until later, but Judy and I were there not long after they opened.

They display furniture and outdoor items on a covered patio by the door. So Judy scored two items before we even got inside – a couple of vintage ottomans. Somehow we both missed seeing the very large rotating composter which she’s been looking for, and someone else snagged it. Oh well. But the instant we got inside she grabbed a pair of Ralph Lauren boots sitting by the “extra good stuff” table. Good thing her feet are a size smaller than mine, or I’d have been getting jealous.

I picked up a cute Christmas ornament that I think has a Scandinavian vibe.

Happy Santa

One of the reasons I think it’s a quality piece is that the hanger is a nice cotton tape, hand knotted, and not a piece of gold tinselly string. It’s those little details that count!

Happy hanger

Besides Santa, I went for a copper pin

Hand pin

and some earrings. Stuff I usually never look at, but KK is a dedicated dangly-earring wearer and has us all going that direction.

Episcopalian earrings

I especially like these vintage hoops

Vintage hoops

that looked much better after some clean up.

Half clean

Judy couldn’t go out on Friday, so this time I had KK with me (yes, wearing dangly earrings!). There were only a handful of sales to check out so we anticipated being done early. And then we reached the Hoarder’s Sale.

We actually heard about this sale last week; the same company that did the sale on my street handled this one. I noticed an ad on Tuesday saying if you were a dealer you could make an appointment and shop this sale early. Kind of annoyed me – doesn’t that seem like cheating to you? I’ve done a fair amount of reselling, and I figure you have to take the same chance as anyone else to find stock. If there had been more sales to go to we probably would have skipped this one, but what the heck. The day was young and we had only two more addresses to check out.

We were quite surprised that there was still a short line waiting to enter when we arrived. They were letting only a few people at a time into the house “because it’s so crowded with stuff.” So we waited, chatting with the lady behind us in line. In about 15 minutes it was our turn and in we went – and our jaws dropped. Every single person who stepped in that house (including us!) stopped in the foyer, looked around, and said Oh. My. God.

Stuff. Stuff everywhere. All kinds of stuff. Dolls and china and office supplies and holiday decorations and stuff and stuff and stuff. And soon we discovered the up side to their “only a few people in the house at a time” policy. There was no crowd, no sense of hurry, you could look as long as you liked without being jostled or having something plucked from under your nose. Not that my nose was seeing much it wanted. (Hmmm, can my nose see??)

I had to pick up this piece though.

dog hooked rug

A small hooked rug (the kind where you pull wool strips into a canvas backing). I’m trying to decide where to hang her so I can see her all the time.

dog detail

After a bit we entered the Room of the Clothing, and if there was any doubt earlier that this was a hoarder situation, it was now gone. Hundreds, probably thousands, of pieces of clothing, many with price tags still on, most appearing to have never been worn, dating back to the Eighties. A sign said they were $2 each, so I started looking through. Now, I’m fully aware that two bucks for a quality piece of clothing is a good deal. But for me to pay two bucks for a piece, I need to see it can be worn as-is or know what I will do with it.

As I was looking, I heard two of the worker ladies out in the hall talking. “No one’s looking at the clothes,” one of them said. “Maybe we should lower the price to a dollar,” the other one replied. My ears stood straight up, and I waited for them to come in and change the price. And waited. And finally could wait no more. I ventured out into the hall and admitted I had been eavesdropping, and wanted to encourage them to go with the dollar idea, assuring them that many more pieces would be sold. So she went and asked whoever was in charge…and then came back and marked out the $2 and put in $1. Woo hoo!

I didn’t go hog wild, but I did bring home some pieces to remodel that I would not otherwise have bought. Plus I’m hoping this vintage Laura Ashley sweater might resell (no tags, but looks like new).

Laura Ashley vintage sweater

Thanks to the miracle of an elastic waistband and broomstick-pleated fabric, this pricey vintage skirt fits me just fine, and in fact was worn to a concert on Friday night.

Vintage Lucia Lukken skirt patchwork border

I paired it with a purple silk shirt that toned with one of the border pieces

works with silk shirt

and when the weather is cooler it will be great with this Italian mixed fabric piece I got at an estate sale a few months ago.

    works with Italian jacket        

KK scored as well, and the velveteen jacket she chose looks like it was designed to go with the Carole Little skirt I gave her.

vintage Carole Little skirtWe didn’t make a very big dent in the hoarder’s stuff, and I wonder how much was left at the end of the sale. But do you want to know the most amazing thing I heard while we were waiting to go in? The large house where the sale was held wasn’t even her home – it was a second house she bought just to keep stuff in!


Let’s all go declutter something!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Just the Cute Stuff

Perhaps because it’s the end of the garaging season (though that won’t stop us from going to estate sales all winter!) I’ve been feeling like I can loosen up a bit. Or maybe the good stuff does come at the last. Whatever the reason, seems like the last couple of weekends I’ve been drawn to the whimsical and cute. Even the beautiful. And spent more than I think I have all year.

Last week’s vintage hat with its feather and little veil for instance. I sometimes think it’s such a pity that hats are worn so rarely now. I have no idea where to wear such a treasure. Sigh. But at least I can admire it.

I did bring home some practical items. A couple of nice shirts for the hubster, one linen, one silk, a buck each. Score. Half a dozen jazz CDs, four DVDs – what could be more practical than cheap entertainment? A letter opener with an enameled handle, a nice wine glass, fifty cents each.

wine glass

We’ve reminded each other all summer of our “no projects, no décor” rule. If you’re a regular garager this simple rule can save you much buyer’s remorse. But I pretty much ignored it this weekend and so far am suffering no remorse at all!

This laminated bamboo block was intended for holding signs. The folks having that sale used to have a bamboo furniture store (and still have a cool midcentury house).

Bamboo stand

The hubs and I took one look and knew it would be perfect to display the album cover of whatever is on the stereo.

Bamboo album stand

The nice couple who have an annual sale (last year two guys started fighting over something on their driveway) with incredible prices provided a handleless Starbucks mug and two cute little cups (bet they’ll get used for individual servings of condiments!) – for a dime each.

ten cent cups

This vintage runner or dresser scarf is currently undergoing an oxy soak to hopefully remove its mildew spots.

vintage runner

But for fifty cents, I had to grab it, because it’s so unusual. The large motifs are not embroidered – they were crocheted and meticulously appliquéd onto the piece.

crocheted motifs

Our last stop on Friday not only was in my neighborhood – it was on my street halfway between Judy’s house and mine! An estate sale. As soon as I walked in the door I spotted three wooden jumping jacks hung on a wall…and one of them was Mother Goose wooden mother goose riding her cute little goose

Mother Goose jumping jack

with its cute little tail feathers!

Mother Goose rides

I couldn’t resist that, could I? Heck no. I saw a few other things I liked, but not the prices. But Saturday was half price day, so we headed back down the street to take another look. I had been thinking all night about a framed calligraphy, which is a sure sign I really do want something. I was sad when it wasn’t where I had left it on Friday, but luck was with me – it was in another room.

Sandy Diamond calligraphy

The saying rang so true, and the calligraphy is fabulous.


Evidently it’s an original, not a print. The calligrapher’s signature in pencil is quite illegible (I suspect as a humorous touch)


but a little research led me to Sandy Diamond (I was pretty sure the first name was Sandy) who is also a painter and playwright. If you like it, there’s another for sale on eBay right now…but it’s priced at over $200.

Having secured my calligraphy, I started looking around for other good stuff that would be half price. First was the framed Danish mirror that I knew KK was interested in – still there, so I gave her a  call and she rushed down to get it, postponing their weekend trip to the coast. In the room with the gloves and scarves, I chose this handwoven piece from Ireland.

Donegal scarf

Donegal labelUnbelievably scrumptious yarn. Of course, both Judy and I had been jealous when KK scooped the 100% cashmere scarf out of the box the day before!

Down in the family room where Christmas items were displayed, I found this pair of House of Hatten ornaments by Denise Calla. Too spendy on Friday, not bad on Saturday. There’s a ‘Santa elf’

Hatten Santa elf

House of Hatten elf

(have you ever tried to hold a dangling ornament with one hand while taking photos with your other hand? it’s hard!!)

and the milkmaid from the Twelve Days of Christmas.

Hatten milkmaid

I love the painted details. Though I have to question her wearing such finery for milking!

Milkmaid faceMilkmaid details

I found one more treasure that I hadn’t noticed on Friday, a handmade piece by a local artist.

Else Holm ornament

A beaded felt tree about 3” tall. Oh my goodness, the work that Else put into this.

Beaded felt tree

It’s just the right size to turn my tiny tin ten-cent house into a holiday display.

Beaded Christmas treeAnd those holidays…they’re just around the corner, aren’t they? 

Monday, September 28, 2015


So what time did it start raining on Friday morning? Oh, about half past the third garage sale. Dang it! We had a lovely sunny day as we started out in the convertible.

The number of sales is decreasing with the change in seasons, so we headed a little further afield than usual. First two sales were on a country road, next door to each other. We didn’t spend much time at the first, but Judy and I both enjoyed chatting with the lady at the second place. She raises alpacas and spins and knits. I had noticed an interesting item in the pictures of their sale, and it was still there…and at a price I could live with.

A cool sculptural bird bath.

tall birdbath

I removed the metal flowers that were in it

metal flowers

and substituted a rusty metal crow silhouette I’ve had for years.

metal birdbath

I’m never sure how my husband will react to things like this. In this case he not only quite likes it, he wants to get it powder coated bright red to make it a focal point in the yard.

Since KK couldn’t be with us this weekend, we picked out a pair of earrings we thought she’d like at the next sale.

lacy earrings

The sale where it started raining. I hustled out of the garage to get the lid up on my car. I always wonder whether it might have stayed nice if I hadn’t put the top down. Being in charge of the weather as I am, you know.

One of our stops was an estate sale in a retirement community in the south end of town. We enjoyed looking around even though the person’s taste had clearly not been close to ours. I did pick out a couple of iced tea spoons for KK, since she collects them. I was sure she’d have bought them if she’d been with us, and at 50 cents each they were about the most reasonably priced item in the house.

spoons before

They responded quite nicely to some silver polish.

spoons duringspoons after

I did see one other item that interested me for possible resale, but couldn’t get myself to pay the marked price. But I did ascertain that prices would go to half on Saturday. Standing in line to pay for the spoons we enjoyed seeing the vintage hats another lady had found. I think she was a dealer from the number and variety of items she had. As we chatted about the hats, she pulled out a glass goblet to show us. “This is called a such-and-such piece,” she told us (sorry, I absolutely cannot remember what she called it!) “and it’s worth about $600.” We expressed amazement at her score. She shrugged a little. “No one can know everything, but I know glass.”

Saturday morning I put that sale back on my list to make a return visit, fingers crossed that the thing I’d been interested in would still be there for half price. My SIL Linda was visiting and we had a perfect sunny day. First stop was a church rummage sale. I spotted a set of eight of these vintage glasses for a quarter each and grabbed them.

Libby vintage leaf glasses

I don’t think they are rare; my family had some when I was young so they can’t have been expensive. But it’s fun to have midcentury glassware to use every day, and we split the set so we each have four. Linda found another vintage goodie, a Fire King peach luster casserole with lid. For 75¢!

fire king luster casserole

I was elated to find this bag of blue glass slubs

blue glass

to decorate our faux stream with faux water sparkles.

faux stream

We hit another sale or two, then headed for the estate sale. I dashed off to see if my item was still there. Took me a minute to find the right room, the floor plan of that house was not what I would call straightforward. But find it I did, and hooray, it was still there!

Now, just as the dealer lady the day before had said, no one can know everything. Sometimes you have special knowledge; hers is for glass, mine is for things that librarians and teachers use. Like a die-cutting machine.

A nearly new Accucut machine in fact, which I know retails for several hundred dollars. Plus a box of dies, the least expensive of which would cost you $50. A die cutter lets you cut out multiple sheets of paper at a time in your chosen shape, and they’re used in decorating bulletin boards, making bookmarks and nametags etc. I’d love to know why this person had her own. There was no indication she was a scrapbooker, and anyway they generally use small, much less expensive cutters.

I had checked eBay sales when I got home Friday to make sure there’s a market. I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to make a nice profit on this item. Which is so darned heavy that a nice man shopping in that room volunteered to carry it to the hold table. We put my stuff down and headed back into the house. “I’m looking for my wife,” he said. “I’m looking for my sister in law,” I said. “Maybe they’re together!” Eventually we both found our people. Mine was in the room with the vintage clothing, which I had glanced at on Friday but considered too expensive.

But now it was half price day. And we had a ball. The first thing I picked out was a vintage hat that the dealer had missed. Okay, confession time – I was going to give it to Judy but I’ve fallen in love with it! I put it on and kept wearing it while we went through the clothes.

vintage hat

Yes, of course it’s silly. Good silly!

vintage hat with feather

Linda ended up with a silk jacket, and I bought a winter-white Pendleton blazer

          Pendleton blazer     

and a handmade wool tabard, probably from the Sixties

vintage wool tabardvintage tabard

and – a tuxedo!

vintage tuxedo

Planning to resell this in the spring near Prom time. There was another piece we both just loved, a handmade brocade  Sixties coat with a matching purse. I think the woman who had these clothes must have had a seamstress to sew for her. Several pieces were handmade but had no tags which I think they would if they were from Hong Kong or some such. And there were no sewing supplies in the house.

The fabric of this coat wasn’t anything I would use so I passed on it, but we kept pointing it out to other shoppers. I told one lady it would look great on her, and she said, “But I only go to Home Depot!” We assured her it would look stunning in Home Depot. She kept shaking her head, but as we were standing in line to pay for my stuff, out she came with some items, including that coat! “I think my daughter may like it,” she explained. But I’m going to keep an eye out for really stunning ladies in Home Depot from now on.

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