Monday, July 16, 2007

Addicted to Other People's Junk!

I started off in May with the goal of finding quality and low priced toys to stock my daycare room with. I had early success and spent my whole budget on some lucky yard sales and thought I was finished. When the next weekend rolled around however I found myself wondering what else was out there that I was missing out on... it was 7 in the morning and I couldn't get back to sleep as I lay there thinking of all the great discarded items being laid upon lawns. I was hooked! For the last 2 months now I have been up at the crack of dawn drawing out my map of the best yard sales and the best routes to get there (2 was enough for J...now I'm on my own). I do the drive by first when you slow down and gawk (I have not hit even one parked car yet!) and wait for the rush that comes when you see something that you have been looking for (even if it just occurred to you at that moment that you were looking for it).

I am not good at bartering however and am hoping to develop this skill before the summer ends. If I go to a yard sale that has prices stores would compete with I generally drive on to the next one rather then make an offer. I have been to some where their worn out children's clothes are comparable to the prices they originally paid for them new (sometimes even more as I suppose one must charge for sentimental value). I won't pay $6.00 for a faded gap sleeper with unidentified yellow stains on the front but there is nothing comparable to the delight I find in a new Mexx baby shirt (complete with tags attached that say $36.00) for $o.50! (true story!).

Some weekends I come home with nothing, the thrill was in the hunt and the possibilities of what I may have found, and what is yet to be found next weekend!

In the last few weeks I have noticed the obvious cultural divide that comes with these sort of rummage sales. I do not think the phenomenon of the yard sale is something that has caught on in Asia and the middle east as these are the most ruthless and serious yard salers of all. They are very competitive and circle the neighbourhood like hawks in carloads well before the common 8 am start time.
When I arrive families of these origins are already piling their arms full of "treasures" (fortunately not usually of my taste so I don' t view them as competition). Their Bartering skills are certainly something to be observed however since I believe in their cultures bartering down prices is something that is routinely done. One will take 5 or 6 items totalling a few dollars and offer $0.35 for all of it! (I have also noticed that when bartering some tend to feign a lack of fluency in the English language and speak in halting sentences even though I overheard them speaking just fine a minute earlier!) The yard owner (generally a flustered Caucasian) will look at the items and go down a dollar to which the seasoned bargain hunter will go up 5 cents. This will go on until the yard saler ultimately will pay a few dollars for the lot but have several more items thrown in for free (I watch from the sidelines in a mix of awe and intimidation).

I have also learned that by 9:00am you might as well go home as anything worth being had has been sold. This works out well for me because when I come home to the still sleeping and oblivious J he thinks I have let him sleep in (not typical of the drill Sergent he has come to know lately) and is none the wiser to my gallivanting all over the city at dawn to use up $45.00 of gas to find $3.00 worth of children's books and a pair of Old navy overalls.


1 comment:

Joel and Janelle said...

I know it too well! Love every minute of it and look forward to the joy of garage sales every summer. I think we are naturally too nice to barter, but the first time I did the thrill of the deal banished any polite reservations I may have had. My tip is to round up a bunch of stuff and give them an offer. Haven't been turned down or even bartered up yet!

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