HALLIE: One of the (many) things I hate about New England winters is that there are no yard sales. And then, come the first warm days of spring, signs sprout on street corners and beckon with their siren song.
I've picked up all my favorite platters at yard sales. The silver clip-on earrings I wear everywhere. Each spring I restock my supply of fancy soaps (why don't people appreciate good soap?) And of course, the idea for "Never Tell a Lie" which I didn't even have to pay for.
My husband is a yard sale maniac. Every Saturday he suits up and leaves the house early-early, stakes out the yard most likely to have his kind of stuff, and waits for the homeowner to take pity on him. Our basement is crammed with his finds -- scores of vintage small appliances (fans, radios, hotplates, curling irons...) that peer out at me from dark shelves whenever I lug down the laundry. Upstairs our shelves are crammed with old books. Hey, it could be bedroom sets that he's dragging home. I blame my husband's obsession with yard sales on his mother--she traumatized him by throwing out his baseball cards.
Do you yard sail? What have been your finest finds?
HANK: Does he think he's going to find the cards? Oh, that's heartbreaking.
ROBERTA: You have to be so patient with yard sales. I guess I've gotten more impatient as I've gotten older. And tag sales in Connecticut don't seem to have the great stuff they did when I lived in Florida. Years ago, my sister scored a swan-neck rocking chair--that's an upholstered overstuffed rocking chair with carved wooden arms, the head of a swan on each. She had it re-covered and it was gorgeous. I searched all over for one like it. (This was before craig's list and ebay.) Finally I had the idea of putting a wanted ad in the local paper. A woman two towns over called and sold me two for fifty bucks--I have one in the den and one upstairs. Love those chairs!
RHYS: I used to love yard sales but it seems recently that people have become greedy and the quality of the stuff has gone down. When we were first married and had used our last pennies to buy our first home, we furnished it almost entirely from yard and garage sales. My best finds? An ivory chess set from China, all the figures are Chinese warriors. We got it for $5 because there was a piece missing. When I got it home, I found the lining of the box was torn and the missing piece was inside!
I think you East Coasters do much better than we in the West. Most people couldn't bring too much stuff with them when they made the transcontinental trek so it's less likely that anyone finds treasure in their attic, or good antiques at garage sales. But I still look hopefully for that overlooked painting that will be the star of the Antiques Roadshow! I think we still carry that hunter/gatherer gene, don't you?
HALLIE: True, Rhys, there's nothing like feeling you got something for nothing... or a song. I once bought an old radio at a friend's yard sale, googled it and discovered the thing was worth over a thousand dollars. The next day I gave it back. Now, if that person had been a complete stranger, I'd have been cackling with glee instead. Moral: Better not to buy from friends.
Ro: Whenever my husband and I are driving and we see one of those handwritten signs on dayglo oaktag(sp?) we look at each other and his hands tense on the steering wheel. Do we stay the course or is the game afoot?
I never met a tag sale or church sale I didn't like. It's just not the same thing finding an item on ebay..although I've done that a few times.
I won't bore you with a complete list of the things I haul home..just a smattering...vintage lamps from the 30's-60's - panther tv lamps to sputnik balls to torchieres - anything barkcloth, adirondack frames, herringbone and iris glass, old gardening books and tools, sheet music, bakelite radios, bird and plant prints, ceramic deer vases, vintage handbags, flowered china, exercise equipment - I now have a gym that most small high schools would be proud of...I'd better stop.
Unlike a woman I know, I've never bought a desk and discovered that it was an actual Stickley (not repro)..but all of it makes me smile, so that's enough for me.
JAN: You have to get to a yard sale early Saturday morning to get the good stuff. I'm still having coffee and reading the paper. Plus, I'm not a patient or particularly discerning shopper. I did, however, find a really great tapestry for over my couch once -- it wasn't cheap though. That's another thing, I hate haggling. I even hate feeling that I should haggle. So yard sales aren't for me.
HALLIE: I hear you, Jan...my husband actually sallies forth twice each spring/summer Saturday. Once at about 7:30 and I wave groggily. Then he stops home mid-sail an hour or two later and I often join the fray.
And Ro, we DID once get a Stickley bookcase (with hammered copper pulls) for $25.
So, are you a yard sale maven or would you rather sit them out?