Seven Reasons to Shop Yard Sales
by Marian Parsons (Miss Mustard Seed)
Yes, I admit it. I’m one of those people. I wake up early on a Saturday morning, hit the cash machine, and set out on a treasure hunt for fluorescent poster board signs that say those magical words – Yard Sale. If you get it, you get it. If you don’t, you probably hate driving behind us and scratch your head at the thought of someone getting joy out of digging through boxes of other people’s junk. So, why do I do it? Why should you do it? Here are my top seven reasons…
You can find great stuff.
When you set out for a morning of perusing yard sales, you never know what you’re going to find. Some days it means you come home empty-handed and other times you might get a truckload of 100+ year old doors for $25 (as I have before.) But you’ll never find those bargains if you don’t look for them and look regularly. Yes, you do have to look beyond the footbaths and particle board 1980’s media cabinets and the boxes of balled up clothing, but you can find some amazing things. Some of my favorite yard sale finds are a $4.00 antique crystal chandelier and a pair of vintage French arm chairs with green velvet upholstery for $10/each.
You can find great stuff for cheap.
There are some people who think having a yard sale will make them enough money to buy a new car, so their prices are inflated and unrealistic. Most people, though, just want to get rid of things and will practically give it away to not have to store it or drive it to the local thrift store. When looking for decorating items, you have to remember that not everyone loves the style you love. I was able to score the chandelier for $4.00, because the owners thought it was hideous. I think they’re crazy, but they didn’t see it as valuable. I can often find beautiful antique linens and sterling silver serving pieces for pennies simply because people don’t like to iron or polish. If you’re on a tight budget or are just frugal, yard sales are a great way to get nice stuff for a LOT less.
It pushes your creativity.
I think it’s safe to say that you don’t have to use a lot of creativity when you walk into a furniture store and pick out a seven piece matching living room set (lamps and all.) When you’re shopping at yard sales, though, you have to learn to see the potential in pieces and how they’ll all work together in your space. The result can be a room that people walk into and immediate think, “Wow. This person must shop at yard sales.” Or “Wow, this is a beautiful room and I’ve never seen one like it before. She must’ve spent a lot to get this look.” It’s a skill that requires some refining, but you can learn to creatively put your treasures together in a way that makes a room stylish and uniquely yours.
It gives you a chance to meet others in your community.
We live in a society where it’s pretty common to just smile and nod at your neighbors, but never really talk to them. I’m totally guilty of that. When I go out to yard sales, though, I usually talk to the people hosting the sale. They’re often curious at what I’m going to do with a truckload of 100+ doors or some cracked ironstone or a dresser that’s missing a top. It gives me a chance to share a bit about myself and learn a bit more about them. I learned more about my next door neighbors in one morning of shopping at their yard sale than over the 3+ years I had lived next to them. So, break out of the little bubble in your home, buy some lemonade from a neighborhood child trying to earn some spending money and bond with your neighbors over their trash becoming your treasure.
It’s budget-friendly retail therapy.
If you’re at all like me, then you get the shopping itch occasionally (or maybe a lot.) There is a thrill is looking for something, finding it at a great price and then buying it. The bummer comes when the credit card statement arrives and you realize you spent more than you should’ve. When shopping yard sales, you have to buy with cash, so you’re immediately setting a budget for yourself in the amount of cash you bring. Depending on what you’re looking for $20 can go a long way. You can outfit your kids for a season on $20 or buy a dresser, a set of dining room chairs or enough accessories to fill the trunk of your car. I’m not suggesting you buy things just to buy them, but at the times in my life when money was really tight and I couldn’t afford to shop at a mall, I could take $10-20 and buy a few things I liked for myself, my kids or my home.
I used to go to yard sales alone, but now it’s often a family outing. My boys, who are 4 and 5, love looking for action figures and toys. My husband gets excited over tools, piles of lumber and furniture he can fix up for me to paint or refinish. We’ll often grab breakfast and try to find community sales, so we can get out and walk, and then we’ll go to a park afterwards. It’s something fun we can do as a family that’s free (except for the money we spend on the things we buy.) Go on an outing with a group of girlfriends and get a nice lunch afterwards. (Just make sure they understand that you will take them down to beat them to buying a French chair if you have to. People understand that when they go with me.)
It keeps good, useable stuff out of landfills.
This isn’t the main reason why I shop at yard sales, but it’s a valid upside. I wouldn’t buy a nasty couch just so it wasn’t thrown away, but I would mourn the day a solid wood dresser was pitched onto a garbage heap. When you shop at yard sales, you can find great stuff at a great price, so you’re happy. The people you buy it from get rid of something they don’t want and earn a little money to spend on something they do want (or need), so they’re happy. It’s the ultimate form of recycling, so both parties can feel good about that, too.
I hope I’ve encouraged you to grab some friends, grab your kids, grab some cash, and head out this weekend to see what treasures you can find!
Marian Parsons (Miss Mustard Seed) is the author of the DIY/Home décor blog www.missmustardseed.com. She currently lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, two sons, and a parade of painted furniture.