And we’re off!

Ah, Memorial Day weekend. The start of summer and never mind that it doesn’t officially start until the middle of June. It is the official start of junking season. Yard and garage sales, auctions, estate and tag sales, the local flea market—all are fertile ground for finding treasures.

Magazines often publish a list of junking tips this time of year, and they bear repeating.

• Wear comfortable clothes—things you don’t mind getting dirty—because they will. Comfortable shoes, too—you’ll be walking a lot.
• Get there early if you want the best stuff. But go later to get the real bargains. Vendors would rather you take items home than have to repack them up to take home themselves. They’ll make deals to get you to do that.
• Bring cash. Would you take checks and credit cards at a garage sale? I didn’t think so. Small bills are appreciated, too.
• Bring bottled water and something to eat, especially if you’re trying to eat healthy. Yes, they serve food at flea markets, but it’s more the fried corndog variety than anything you’d want to eat regularly.
• If something “speaks” to you, just buy it. As Mary Randolph Carter says “ Don’t ask yourself ‘Do I have a place for this?”’ Room in your heart means there’s room in your house.” Don’t think you can go back and get it later because chances are it won’t be there.
• It’s OK to haggle for higher ticket items but don’t nickel and dime the small stuff. It’s insulting to the seller and doesn’t make you look too good either. You can often get a deal if you buy several things from the same seller.

To which I would add:

• Be sure to look down. I’ve found some of the best things underneath tables in boxes.
• Carry a big bag. I have a barkcloth tote bag that, I swear, is bottomless. Great for all the small things I tend to buy—like bags of buttons and linens.
• Don’t take things too seriously. Just because something is supposed to be used for a certain purpose doesn’t mean you can’t be creative and use it for something completely different. It’s supposed to be fun!

Unfortunately I had too much to do in my garden this weekend after the rain last week, so I didn’t hit the garage sales. But I did stop at a church tag sale on Saturday and found some amazing things. A bag full of knitting and needlework books and magazines from the 30s, 40s and 50s – for (can you believe it?) $1. I also found two of these plates for $2 each.

I don’t know much about china and bought them because they’re pretty (and I'm sure those smaller flowers are primroses). So imagine my surprise when I did a little research online and discovered that they’re Grindley china from England and are worth about $18 each. In perfect condition, which these are not. My point is that you should trust your gut. Buy what you like—you’ll figure out a use for it later. And happy hunting this summer!

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