The Garage Sale Review

Documenting crap that people sell in their yards in California, Texas and beyond

Pricing anxiety and Eastern wisdom

This $1 cat-decorated bag was once filled with a grandma's underwear

This $1 cat-decorated bag was once filled with a dead grandma’s underwear

How do you do, you knickknack navigators? The Garage Sale Review is back in action, ready to chronicle the fascinating tale of strangers selling crap in their yards, as well as document all the yard sale wisdom that these junk fiends tend to discard like unwanted pennies, or, as I’ve seen available at several sales before, like secondhand underwear.

Yes, it’s a tough gig being a garage sale reviewer out there on the Crescent City yard sale circuit, but someone has to hold Del Norte’s junk slingers accountable for the quality of their sales via public glorification/humiliation. And this week, as far as quality goes, was a mixed bag. Literally, this bag I saw for sale for $1 at one garage sale I went to — which was covered with a stylish cat print that I couldn’t take my eyes off but also had previously been filled with a deceased grandmother’s old lingerie — was mixed. Let’s get down to business, shall we?

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Sign Science 2: THUNDERDOME — Signs vs. Sales

Is the "Quality Sign" advertised on this sign indeed a quality sale

Is the “Quality Sign” advertised on this sign indeed a quality sale?

Hello, you odds and ends enthusiasts! This is the second part of an in-depth look at what your garage sale sign says about your garage sale, so if you’ve ever been in a position where you’re deciding whether or not to use a yellow crayon and a piece of toilet paper to advertise your sale then start paying attention. In last week’s installment I detailed my conversation with Terry, The Garage Sale Sensei, who turned me onto his good sign-good sale theory, and what follows below is a play-by-play of what happened when I put The Sensei’s hypothesis into the ol’ secondhand test tube of yard sale experimentation.

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The GSR hits the nationally syndicated big time!

The Garage Sale Review was a call-in guest on the edgy, tell-it-how-it-is, adults only podcast “A Way With Words” this week. Listen in to hear me and these IDGAF word nerds as we chat it up about early birds, Hello Kitty humidifiers, and smaller-than-normal-sized slotted spoons. Check it out at the link below (GSR starts at ~2:33)

Sign Science: What does your sign say about your sale?

This sign says something about the sale behind it, but what?

This sign says something about the sale behind it, but what?

Buenos días, you deal-diggin’ dingbats! For this week’s Garage Sale Review, I thought it’d be useful to begin looking into an element of the garage sale world that’s so universal, familiar, and integral to the weekend junk-buying process that without it, scholars argue, yard sales in their current form simply couldn’t exist. Like oxygen or the mystical Sasquatch, this fundamental factor of garage sale life is lurking all around us, yet it usually goes unseen and forgotten. As you probably guessed, I’m talking about yard sale signs.

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The controversial plight of the early bird

Nick, a self-proclaimed early bird, has been chased out of a garage sale with a broom for showing up too early.

Nick, a self-proclaimed early bird, has been chased out of a garage sale with a broom for showing up too early.

Hola, crap crusaders! The Garage Sale Review is back after a brief hiatus, and since my last column put the yard sales of Southern Oregon in the secondhand spotlight, I figured it was only right to return to Crescent City — my first love when it comes to stumbling into strangers’ yards and printing demented ramblings in the newspaper about what I find there.

Sadly, there were only three garage sales listed in the classifieds on Saturday, so this week’s junk manifesto was a bit limited by a lack of cool stuff for sale. But I soldiered on, keeping in mind what Dad always said, “When life hands you a rusty barbecue grill, spraypaint it black and sell it to an unsuspecting sucker for double what you paid.”

Even though I didn’t come across many interesting items this week, and I’ve also totally forgot any life lessons my dad taught me that actually had any value, I did manage to dig into an important element of garage sale culture: early birds.  Read the rest of this entry »

Frog love and the classified ad piggyback

frogsWhat’s happening, you beautiful bargain bandits? This weekend I decided to turn the tables on everything you’ve come to expect from this garage sale column. “Did he finally stop blathering on about old junk?” you might ask.

No, faithful readers, I’m still blathering on about junk, and I always will be. But this weekend I’m blathering about the junk in Brookings. 

Not only are the garage sales in Brookings located in a completely different city than the sales in Crescent City, they’re also located in a completely different state. The people of Oregon typically follow very different rules (these are called laws) regarding society, culture and the pursuit of happiness than the rules that Californians follow, and this was made quite clear to me when I ran into a person who the State of Oregon had allowed to be absolutely obsessed with frogs. As this person’s license plate stated, she was “unfrogettable.” 

Let’s begin, shall we?

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Legend of the lunch meat-eating eels

bethesdaHow are you, my fellow crusaders of crap? I woke up on Saturday and I immediately knew that it was going to be a beautiful day for garage sales. And that proved to be so true when I found for sale a huge 50-gallon tank that used to contain several lunchmeat-eating eels at the second garage sale I went to. Let’s get started.

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The true value of a remote controlled deer head

quickcashcharlieHello you garage sale fiends! This weekend’s sales taught me a valuable lesson, and I’m going to share what I learned with you here because I think you might find it inspiring.

Lesson: It’s important to have patience, as well as to keep working toward your goal. And regardless of whether that goal is finding a good garage sale, or perhaps a less worthy objective like choosing to save your money and marriage by not filling your house with the rusted junk you buy in strangers’ yards, you need to remember to rise to the top, straight to the top, had the guts got the glory, went the distance, now I’m not going to stop, just a man and his will to survive.

Whoa, sorry, I blacked out and started typing the lyrics to “Eye of the Tiger.” Basically, what I’m trying to say is that since it’s still early in the year, there are some weekends, like this one, when there aren’t a lot of garage sales. And if you don’t persevere through tough times then you might miss out on a real diamond in the rough — like the last sale I went to this weekend, where I met Quick Cash Charlie and he told me the tale of his talking deer head. I’ll start at the beginning.

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The Wolf of Cherrywood Street

IMG_0800When I woke up on Saturday morning I clutched my skull. I regretted my life, my decisions and my drunken defiling of that sacred period of time called “Friday night.” Yep, you guessed it, gentle reader: hangover. I rocked back and forth in my bed as I massaged my throbbing cranium and thought something along the lines of Ouch. Should not have drank those drinks last night. And then I thought Of course! I know how to fix this hangover! I’ll go sift through the crap that people put out in their yards on Saturday mornings!

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The path to yard sale enlightenment

Is there room in your heart for a wind-up Elvis doll?

Is there room in your heart for a wind-up Elvis doll?

Ahoy thar, you junk junkies! Welcome to the newest edition of The Garage Sale Review – the blog that chronicles the deals Gillian Rhodes and myself, assisted by the navigationally-astute, bargain-sniffing wunderkind, Brendan Keifer, wrangle up as we cruise around Austin munching kolaches and digging through the crap that people put out in their yards to sell on Saturday morning.

It’s tough out there on the open road, faithful reader, being relentlessly trailed by bloodthirsty garage sale sharks who would ship their own mother down the river for a few dollars off that BBQ grill that’s for sale over there on 35th and Avenue H. But someone’s got to do it or the tale of that haggle-torn BBQ grill would never be told. So sit your ass down, don’t touch anything because we haven’t washed it off yet, and check out what we found this week.

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