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Davis, California

Monday, October 25, 2021

Column: Garage plunders

So after reading my thrift article a few weeks back, one of my seven readers may have gone to a thrift store and plundered the racks with the help of my handy advice. This reader may, however, be thinking, “OK, Brittany, I concede that the deals were tantalizing and the fashion’s as varied as Jelly Bellys, but I believe that my pennies can be stretched further and my fashion sense even further shocked.” Well, dear solitary reader, I happily match your challenge and present to you the art of garage sales.

Yes, perhaps you once tromped around your neighborhood to local garage sales, searching in vain for a second-hand Big Wheel, but my guess is that you have since neglected their potential. And we are talking 13-year-old Daniel Radcliff level potential, because garage sales are perhaps the most neglected gems in our daily hunt for fashion.

So maybe, dear reader, I have caught your interest, and you would like to query when these magical conventions take place. Well, bookworms rejoice, because the best time to score deals at garage sales is bright and early Saturday morning, with most starting at 8 a.m. The rest of you are looking at me incredulously with one eyebrow raised wondering if I have ever had a social Friday or know what the word ‘hangover’ means, but I promise, they can be absolutely worth it.

It should also be noted that garage sale outings are premeditated and planned in order to cover the most ground with the most efficient route. During my previous residence in southern California, my Thursday paper with the garage sale listings would be marked with discriminating circles and hopeful hearts. Now, however, I am a scrimping college student who cannot afford a paper subscription and have restricted my sale searching to strictly online means. The most resourceful site for garage sale hunting is davisenterprise.com, where under the classifieds section, a convenient list of Davis garage sales is posted, helpfully categorized into Central, East, South and West locations. If these postings are not enough to whet your bargain appetite, a few scattered Davis garage sale postings can be found on Sacramento Craigslist’s garage sale listings.

So now it is Saturday morning and you have dutifully written down all addresses and start times and perhaps even Google mapped an efficient route from garage to garage. The next item on your success checklist is a reliable accomplice with good eyesight. This willing participant should ride shotgun with a pen and paper constantly in hand, ready to write down stray addresses scrawled on partitions of cardboard and neon poster paper.

Although some people do appreciate the deals available at garage sales, they often neglect the potential of great clothing or jewelry buys. Clothes will often be laid out for viewing on large quilts, allowing almost all items to be viewed and compared at once. People are usually selling these clothes for a reason; for example, I just had a baby and now must sell all my fabulous clubbing clothes, as they no longer hug my body in a flattering way or are relevant to my life. Or, perhaps, my girlfriend and I just broke up and now I’m selling her stuff before she comes back to get it. People don’t want these items in their lives anymore and therefore, have priced them to move. We’re talking shirts for a dollar and pants for two, people.

The clothing available is almost always so deliciously cheap, you don’t have to worry extensively about taking a risk on a semi-fabulous shirt that may or may not become a central item in your wardrobe. The price factor is also a bonus if you are an amateur crafter and wish to play Dr. Frankenstien in an effort to create entirely new pieces of clothing.

Another plus about garage sales is the price flexibility. If you feel the sellers are asking too much, bartering is totally acceptable and almost always welcome. Try combining items for package deals. The more you leave with, the happier they are.

Not all garage sales are created equal, the most lucrative type being the estate sale. Estate sales occur when a person passes and their family or a professional company organizes their belongings into an appealing sale. Although some people find this morbid, try thinking about it logically: These items are all of the things that this person loved most and wouldn’t have normally sold in a sale, i.e. – the good stuff. As the people who have passed on are usually of the elderly sort, they have often accumulated a wonderful collection of clothes, and for the females, jewelry.

So the next Friday you find yourself spending the night with Netflix, put it on pause for a second and gather some addresses for an awesome day of treasure hunting. If nothing else, it will be an exciting adventure.

BRITTANY NELSON just got a free George Foreman grill at a garage sale. For a low-fat burger, reach her at blnelson@ucdavis.edu.

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