Here’s to smooth sale-ing

I have a confession to make. I brake for garage sales.

Now before you roll your eyes, hear me out. I am what you call a collecting connoisseur on a budget. I don’t want cheap. I don’t want junk. I am not asking for you to give it to me for free – or far less than its value. I am just looking for a reasonable deal.

Most people say that in Wisconsin we have two seasons: winter and road construction. I’m inclined to say the two are winter and garage sale season (or thrift sale or rummage sale or flea market … take your pick).

I’m not sure if I should blame my mother or give her credit for molding me into the bargain shopper I am today. It’s not that I am unwilling to pay full price, I’d just rather not. Growing up the youngest of eight children with just one parent working outside the home, new toys and clothes weren’t exactly falling from the sky. What a treat it was to accompany my mother garage sale-ing and find a nice pair of pants or not-too-banged-up dolly. Really? Only a dime? What a bargain.

Nowadays, especially with the popularity of Antiques Roadshow,  second-hand sales are magnets for those looking for the next big find. I say we should approach these sales like we do collecting. Why buy it if you don’t need it, don’t want it or don’t like it? Maybe buy it if could make you money but only if it makes you smile.

A few years ago I came across a banged up end table of sorts. It wasn’t an antique or anything. Just one of those things I looked at and said, “I could do something with this.” I took that home, sponge-painted it to match my decor and it has been a fixture in my hallway ever since – holding flowers and precious picture frames. It certainly will never bring in any money, but it has brought me joy.

There are many times, I must admit, that the line between “I can do something with this” and the action of actually doing it gets blurred sometimes. That’s when it’s time to have my own sale and let someone else find that treasure.

Those who love the thrill of the hunt like me will be pleased to hear I’ve passed this thrifty chromosome on to another generation. My 10-year-old son loves to go garage sale-ing with Mom. He’ll bring his own wallet and he’s got his own shopping agenda – which I haven’t quite figured out yet. He’s come home with everything from a plastic “lazy susan” to a gold coated necklace with a big dollar sign on it (that’s what the kids these days call “bling”).

Neither one of us has ever scored anything of surprising value. Have you? Antique Trader would love to hear about your favorite summer shopping snag … your favorite flea market find. Was it something with monetary value or did it have that special nostalgic value that knows no price?

Email your find to If you’ve got a picture to share with the other readers, send that along.

Wishing you happy hunting and smooth sale-ing!