So after a month’s worth of pleasant experiences, I was finally reminded of why I stopped going to yard sales to begin with.
I did find some nice things, but between the sellers and the buyers, every stop brought five new annoyances.
Sellers were the big problem. I lost interest in yard sales when people started charging eBay prices, and that was on full display. At the first of Saturday’s sales, we saw a homeowner basically tell someone to leave her property, insulted that the would-be customer wanted to pay $20 rather than $24 for a box of nearly-worthless Christmas ornaments. That same woman wanted $3 per VHS tape, even though 80% of them were of the Barney & Friends variety, and none of them had boxes.
We also went to a couple of estate sales, where the sellers were even worse. Around here, estate sales generally aren’t run by grieving families, but by outside people that they hire. I don’t know the specifics of their arrangements, but those people must work on a percentage rather than a flat rate, because holy fuck were they asking for ridiculous amounts of money.
Some of the buyers were no better. At one estate sale, an obvious dealer was running ahead of us all over the house, I guess to make sure he could pick out the good stuff first. Literally just darting in front of us, lest we get to that flimsy 1975 magazine rack before he could.
We went upstairs, and he immediately followed. We started joking about a really old chair in the bedroom, saying it would look great in our living room. We were obviously insincere, but that didn’t stop the dick from practically mowing us down to claim it. When you’re willing to be a rude jerk to total strangers so you can make a few dollars off of some dead woman’s busted chair, it’s time to Google around for deficiency quizzes.
At the final yard sale of the afternoon, someone had a bucket of Hot Wheels that looked like they’d spent ten years in dirt and almost as many with a really heavy guy stepping on them. “$40 for the whole pail. I can’t break the set.” Set? What set? The cars were only associable by the fact that they were all broken and dirty. I wanted one because a mangled Hot Wheels car is among the greatest symbols of yard sales, but I didn’t need a full “set.”
Oh well, I still scored some decent stuff! (more…)
Another weekend spent shamelessly rummaging through strangers’ trash!
We only went to a few yard sales this weekend, owing to a late start and temperatures that could melt steel. Even so, my luck held. This is the third time in a row that I found dusty gold on foreign front lawns.
Side story: A yard sale that looked great in the classifieds turned out to be a dud, especially because it required a twenty minute drive. But the guy manning it was this old dude in a wheelchair, and his boundary-crossing verbal asides reminded me so much of my late father, I couldn’t bare to leave without buying something. And that is how we came home with a six-inch ceramic elephant with a chipped tusk.
I always feel so rude and awkward when I don’t buy anything from a yard sale. There’s just no easy way to say, “Sorry, madam, but your trash is not my treasure.” Half of the time, I force myself to buy some cheap thing that I have absolutely no interest in, just so I don’t have to do the walk of shame. (Of course, that leads to an entirely different walk of shame — the one where I have to cross a bunch of seventeen-year-olds playing touch football while carrying an incomplete Holly Hobbie board game.)
Overall, I think I did well. Here are my five favorite finds from this weekend: (more…)
After my success at last week’s yard sales, I wondered if lightning would strike twice.
It did! The gods of trash blessed me even harder this time, with cheap, geeky goods that I might have expected to find at yard sales 15-20 years ago.
Much of this week’s haul came from a multi-family sale that spanned the front lawns of at least six houses. I started by ransacking a box of insanely cheap videocassettes, and ended with a moment of personal crisis over whether or not to buy used Hulk Hands. (The Hulk Hands aren’t featured here, but I did go home with them. I have a brain.)
Below are my five favorite scores. I’m struck by how it looks like I just got back from a comic convention rather than a bunch of yard sales. It was a tight race, but I think I made out even better than last week!
Uncut Sheet of Garbage Pail Kids!
Holy shit! An uncut sheet of 2nd Series Garbage Pail Kids stickers, from 1985! I used to buy sheets exactly like this from a long-closed indoor flea market, but that was back when they were still new.
Some random card dealer was always at that flea market; he was the one who sold the uncut sheets. Three dollars a pop. He also dabbled in everything from used Star Wars figures to vintage movie posters, and now that I think about it, his crusty booth was the first time I became aware of the collector’s market. Oh, the memories! Memories of super cheap but criminally folded Gremlins posters!
I nearly died when I saw this on someone’s lawn. I’ve often written about Garbage Pail Kids’ fall from grace, but these uncut sheets represent a time when they were everything right with the world. All of my friends collected Garbage Pail Kids, but I was the only one busting out uncut sheets. (Of course, like an idiot, I’d always end up cutting the things into single cards, using imprecise scissors and my shaky left hand.)
I’ve since found a few auctions for this exact set with prices north of $60, so yeah, this was a sweet deal.
We went yard sailin’ on Saturday morning, and I think I hit the jackpot.
(No, that’s not the jackpot.)
I don’t go to yard sales as often as I did before everyone turned into a wannabe antique dealer. These days, you can barely buy paper plates without hearing about how they’re VERY VALUABLE paper plates first. On balance, there are only so many times I can see $10 price tags on McDonald’s Beanie Babies before orchestrating total stellar genocide.
But the weather was really nice. We didn’t want to waste it. Most of the sales were duds, best exemplified by the one ran out of some lady’s backyard. She was selling what I can only describe as a twelve-inch hammock filled with fake fruit. It was the most atrocious thing imaginable, so of course I wanted it.
I asked about the price. She gave the fruit hammock a discouraging look, and then made that “ooooh” sound. If you’ve been to many yard sales, you know this game. People do that when they’re about to announce an awful price. She bluntly says “twenty five” before quickly turning her back, as if to add “I will not go a penny lower” purely through body language.
Twenty five bucks for a novelty hammock stuffed with plastic fruit? Jesus, is it at least lucky?
I had better luck at other sales. Much better than I was anticipating, actually. It wasn’t so much that the stuff I picked up was that valuable, but they were really odd things to find at yard sales. Odd in a great way.
Here are my five favorite finds:
First, a SEALED copy of DuckTales The Movie, from 1991! Only a buck!
Disney tapes in clamshell cases are notorious for being resealed on the secondary market, but this one is legit because it still has the price sticker. Look close and you’ll notice that there’s also a Lost Lamp game card inside, which — had I found this tape before 6/30/91 — would have provided me the chance to win a free Disney World vacation.
I haven’t written much about DuckTales, but I was a huuuuuge fan. I never forgave Goof Troop for knocking it out of the Disney Afternoon lineup. Though DuckTales The Movie did get a theatrical release, I waited for it to air on television. (I have a vague recollection of some network splitting it into parts and airing it during prime time. Can anyone confirm?)
As much as I’d like to crack this baby open, it must remain forever sealed. If I open it and find out that I’m the too-late winner of the Lost Lamp Instant Win Game, I’ll die five years sooner than my doctor predicted. (more…)
I’d like to introduce you to one of my private passions: The eBay action figure “mixed lot.”
Seller: “bigpicr1″ | Auction Link
There’s one example.
A “mixed lot” happens when a seller tosses random action figures into a pile, and offers them in one big batch. They’re amazing auctions, even when you have little reason to make a bid.
I started searching for mixed lots years ago, when it was still common to find good deals on eBay. Generally speaking, mixed lots go hand in hand with sellers who have no clue what they have. When you catch something desirable in the spread, it’s rarely mentioned in the auction title or description. This limits the competing bidders, and can make for great bargains. (more…)