Tuesday, January 3, 2012

All Good!

A new year! Time to add a new page to my thrifting spreadsheet, but before I do let’s look back at 2011. No matter what else happens, I can always look back at my garaging record and say without doubt that it was a very good year!


In case you’ve not yet started keeping records of your own finds, let me encourage you to begin. I can’t help it – I always get a thrill when I look over my spreadsheet and see how much I got for how little. The columns on mine include the date; item; how much I paid; the approximate retail value; a category to help me sort things; and a field for notes. If you buy to resell, you could also include a column for mileage, since you’ll need a record of that when you do your taxes.

Of course I can never help comparing the year just completed to previous years. One area I’m happy about this time is the Donations category – in other words things I bought that I decided not to keep. A perfect year would have none, but there were only 15 items in that category this year. Five years ago there were 95! Of course many of those were items I bought to resell that didn’t go, but I’m still happy to see how much I’ve improved. And nearly half of the donations were items I used for a while (like some pieces of clothing) that I ultimately decided not to keep.

“Household items” is always a huge category for me. Perhaps I need to break it down further in the future, since it includes kitchen items, furniture, office supplies, and even exercise equipment. It’s a category where I get a lot of bang for my buck – an average of almost $43 of bang for each dollar spent this year. Some lucky furniture finds really contributed to this great bottom line, notably the four Hans Wegner CH23 dining chairs I picked up for twenty bucks.


I didn’t know their provenance when I found them, just knew I liked them – and that’s the only reason to buy anything at a yard sale. Evidently they are quite desirable; it’s hard to find any online that don’t have ‘sold’ on them – but there’s a set in Sweden that’s priced at the equivalent of almost $3700. And even the ones with seats that need reweaving, as mine do, seem to be worth hundreds. And that was just one of my furniture finds. There was also the pair of vintage twin beds, which finally have wonderful mattresses courtesy of Craigslist and are gracing one of our guest rooms.


And the pouf of a stool that’s perfect with our Heywood-Wakefield vanity.


And the 8 foot long sofa made in 1964 – perfect for lying in front of a fire blazing in the fireplace with a good book – and all the pets, since there’s plenty of room.

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The “pet items” category had a good return this year too. Only bought three items, but those averaged over $46 bangs per dollar. The two pet carriers made getting our cats from California to Oregon possible – though it was still a long drive!


The “entertainment’ category shows a smaller return for each dollar spent, but doesn’t reflect the hours of enjoyment we’ve had from these finds. I picked up 17 books, 8 CDs, 28 movies, and 31 magazines for less than $53. That’s about the equivalent of three movies seen at a theatre for the two of us. We’ve already watched three of this year’s movie finds more than once on our home theatre (White Christmas, Last Chance Harvey, Danny Deckchair). We win!

I found some great gifts this year too. Spike the dog looks quite at home in front of the fireplace at my friend Diana’s house – and goes very well with their mini-dachshunds Sophie & Tootsie.


My SIL Linda enjoys seasonally decorating her dining table, so the gorgeous embroidered table runner was perfect for her – and it was free at an estate sale! (It went home with her before I got a picture.) And my BIL Biker Bob is still chuffed at the $2 brad nailer I found to use with his compressor.  Twenty- three gifts for an average of less than $1 each. And my children’s librarians got lots of cool door prizes as well, including a huge bag o’ Legos, bunches of hand puppets, and a Tomy gearation toy whose 23-second film is still my biggest hit on YouTube – 32,740 views so far!

My small career as a re-seller is still small, but the economy must be improving at least a bit since eBay sales have picked up again. I spent a total of $31.60 on sale items, and made a profit of nearly $500. Better than the money though is connecting nice people with cool stuff, like the college professor who now has a lovely vintage Bonnie Cashion Coach bag from the Sixties, or the gentleman who lives in the classy NYC brownstone who was able to replace the Dansk placemats he’d used for years with a set of new ones . Or one of my very own QoFC followers who’ll be using vintage Vera napkins in some of her tablescapes!


Finally, I found some great clothing and accessories for both my husband and me during the year. I’ll never be able to afford an Eileen Fisher shirt at Neiman Marcus, where the price tag would be over $250, but I love the $2 one in my closet!


Ditto the Pendleton shirt that’s helping Steven stay warm in this colder climate we’ve moved to,


or the blue cashmere sweater that I bought for fifty cents.


I admit I get a bit of a chuckle when I see him wearing that sweater, since I bought it intending to felt it and make sofa pillows or something!  I picked up 18 pieces of clothing that would have cost us at least $800 in stores – and I paid $22.75!

Now don’t you want to go start your own spreadsheet – not to mention go garaging?

So 2011 was terrific, and I’m betting fifty cents that 2012 will be too.

Of course the find of the year was not at a garage sale, but it did come from Craigslist! Yes, that adorable puppy.


Looks like her name is going to be Zoe. We’ve tried out several, but she likes Zoe best. And she is one seriously awesome puppy. Cuddly and funny and smart as she can be. She’s already coming when called and sits for her treat. Housebreaking is coming along (we were able to skip the 3 a.m. trip outside last night and I got to sleep till 5:30 – woo hoo!). She eats like a champ (has grown from 5 lb. 12 oz. to 7 lb. in less than two weeks) and is perfectly happy to have pieces of her regular food used for training treats. And she adores her big brother Edward.


They play and play and play. His tail is her favorite tug-o-war toy; he flings her about then gently removes her so the wrestling match can continue.

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He does a great job of wearing her out, and then she sleeps for hours.


Puppy heaven!



  1. A record book of all your finds? Great idea. I'm starting today as soon as I get back from the thrift store. Thanks for the inspiration and Happy New Year.

  2. I write down everything I buy and what I pay for it but don't find out value and don't do as much resale as you. Still it is great to see what I've spent and what I have that I could not afford retail! You are for sure the Queen!

  3. I keep a log too, and you're right, it is fun to see all the things you picked up and how cheaply you got them!

    Your little Zoe is adorable!

  4. I started a log last year but didn't stick to updating it. I am going to get better this year. After reading this post I wrote down my 1/2/12 finds. I saved to the desktop so I can't miss it every time I am on the computer. Thanks!

  5. There is so much I want to tell you. Congrats on the new addition to your family!! Zoe is adorable. I'm so glad Edward has a companion. I love all the pictures.
    The only inventory I try to keep is for my Fiesta dishes. I am way behind on it. Here's hoping I can get organized this year.
    Happy New Year!

  6. maybe someday on the log...sounds like work to me....;)
    Zoe is so cute!! very photogenic too!

  7. My goodness, what a cute lil' pup and great finds over the year. I hope this new year is as abundant as last year. Happy New Year!

  8. First time on your blog and have to say.....I love it. Puppies and garaging. Perfect combination.

  9. This year I hope to set up a spreadsheet for my finds. I have been using a sweet little notebook, but it's not the easiest for finding something for which I want to reference a price. I really enjoyed reading about your successes and so you have motivated me!

  10. I loved reading about your "spreadsheet" - I do a mental list, but I think seeing it in black and white must be very gratifying!

    Thank you so much for sharing the pictures of Edward and Zoe - made my day - they are so sweet together. What a good boy he is!

  11. OK, I miss you! Puppy taking up all of your time? No good garage sales in January? I need to know!


I really love your comments. Thanks for coming along on my thrifty adventures!

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