Are you a ‘buy it new’ snob – one of those people who shudder at the thought of using someone else’s cast off stuff? I was for awhile. After 10 years of not having enough money to buy new things, I found my dream job and started getting high pay. I swore I’d never buy used junk again…. but now I’ve changed my mind.
I hate waste and I see it all the time. Fashion changes and new or nearly new clothing gets sold at sales or donated to charity. Home owners get bored and re-decorate or re-vamp their homes. The old cabinets, faucets, furniture and drapes go on the block. If the item is usable, I need it and it can be cleaned, it is on my radar to obtain.
For me, going to sales is not just a means to find things I need at rock bottom prices, it is also entertainment. Neighborhood sales are my favorite, and they are prolific in spring and fall. I can park my car and walk from sale to sale, getting a bit of exercise, enjoying the fine weather and seeing the architecture and landscaping of the homes along the way. I also occasionally get to encourage young entrepreneurs by purchasing their wares (usually soda or lemonade but sometimes more ambitions products as well). In addition, I sometimes practice my negotiation skills by bargaining with the seller.
Another benefit is that I am cutting the governments out of the loop – there no sales taxes on used stuff (except big things of course, like boats or cars).
Here is a short list of some of my favorite finds at garage, estate and thrift store sales.
Rattan loveseat and ottoman – $25. I didn’t have to do a thing to these pieces except get them home and hose them off. I let them sit in the sun for several days as well to let the sun disinfect them. The set has a bit of age, but was perfect size for my little sunroom. I used an old seat cushion I had and wrapped it with brand new material from another garage sale to pretty it up and make it softer, then stacked new throw pillows I found at yet another sale for $.50 each (and cleaned and disinfected as well) on them. A similar set, if I bought it new would have been well over $300.
Large model doll house complete with furniture – $75. New it would be several hundred dollars just for the house. Have you seen those model doll houses at Hobby Lobby – the ones that are 3 – 4 feet tall and 2 -3 feet wide that have to be assembled? That is what this is. I’ll keep it until the grand-kids outgrow it and then try to sell it for the same amount.
Epson Scanner – $20. I paid hundreds for a slightly better model at Best Buy years ago. I took a chance on this and it paid off. It was missing the software, but thanks to the internet, I had no trouble finding a driver that worked.
Exercise DVD – Slim in 6 – $2. This set is at least $20 new and around $15 used on Amazon. Also, a step with two steps for $5. I had purchased a much smaller (less sturdy) one at Walmart for $20 – my daughter-in-law inherited that one.
Kid’s scooter – $1. I’ve seen similar ones (Razors) for sale for $40 new. This is a current favorite of my 9 year old grandson when he visits us.
Wooden barn set – $10. This pine wood set has three huge barns that kids put together, with removable roofs, fencing and a wooden platform to put under them. It’s a favorite of my granddaughter (who is in that horse crazy phase that most girls hit).
Brand new board games still in shrink wrap – Cash Flow – $3. I bought the same game new several years ago for over $100.
25 nearly new hot wheel cars for the grand nieces and nephews to use at our house – $1 for all. Once the package is open, the kids don’t care if the cars are new – just if they work. New hot wheels can cost from $1 – $3 each.
Outdoor bench (I refurbished it) $5. I’ve seen similar ones at Walmart for around $90. This one is heavy duty metal and oak with brass hardware. I’m always on the lookout for outdoor furniture – as I age I will need more benches along our 6 acre paths!
Anne Taylor tops – $3. New these run $30 to $40 each.
Wm Rogers silver plate utensils – service for 12 – $60. You can’t get these new, the pattern was made in 1957. I love silver and don’t mind polishing once every couple of years. New silver plate utensils run about twice this and I like the fact that these are from my childhood years.
Large heavy picture easel for antique booth – $25. If purchased new, I would have paid well over $150 for this sturdy one. I used it for years and sold it – for $25 – last summer in my own garage sale.
Glass leftover containers 3 for $.75. I don’t like to use plastic bags or throwaway containers for my leftovers – glass seems much cleaner. I found these 3 lidded small (think soup bowl size ones for a quarter a piece!
Yards of new wide, metal rimmed Christmas ribbon – $2. Sales are a great place to find your Christmas décor. Estate sales especially can yield very high quality items for bargain basement prices. My ribbon however came from a garage sale. I have a 2′ x 2′ blanket case filled with rolls of it. Each roll of the wide ribbon sells for $8 – $10 per roll.
Oak magazine rack – never used – $.50. New ones run at least $25. I had been wanting a holder for bathroom reading material and this one is just the right size, and color.
Full size metal wheelbarrow – free. New ones are around $25. Hubby re-painted it and has used it for many things around the yard and grounds.
Carry cases for small dog or cat – 3 @ $.50 each. I see these at Walmart for around $20 each. We used to have a cat who just hated car travel (probably because the only time I put her in the car was to go to the vet!). She would just crawl all over the place and yowl loudly all the way there. Keeping her confined was much safer for me and easier on her psychie. When she died, I passed the cases on to my son – whose wife has 3 adorable little Yorkies.
Signed original custom framed (28” by 36”) watercolor – $30. It is hard to guess what this might have sold for when first painted, but it is beautifully done and the colors are perfect for our master bedroom. The custom gold frame job alone probably would have cost $100 or more.
Wooden framed mirror (orig from Pier 1 Imports 32 “ by 4 feet wide) – $15. After taking out the 1985 mirror tile covering the wall above my whirlpool bath, I needed a mirror. This one came from an estate sale (on half price day which is usually on the last day of the sale). If purchased new, this would have set me back $150 – $200.
My very best finds, however, were re-modeling supplies. I found beautiful, brand new travertine floor tiles at one sale and the owner pointed me to the store from which she purchased them – in case I needed a few more. I also found two bath vanity Kohler faucets which my hubby was able to install in the Jack and Jill vanities. With these finds, along with a ceramic bath set (waste can, lotion holder, cup and toothbrush holder) and doing the work myself, I was able to re-do my bath for only $600.
So, what do you think of my treasures? If you haven’t discovered saleing and it’s benefits, why not give it a try some weekend morning on a fine spring day. If you like it, you may save big bucks on needed items (be careful not to buy things you really can’t use though). If you don’t, at least you got a bit of exercise. Don’t be a ‘Buy it new snob’ – try used, it helps the environment too!
What is one of your best finds?