I’ve mentioned before that my day job is at City Hall and it’s located in a fairly residential area. That makes it somewhat convenient for lunchtime garage saling.
The other day I had to run a couple of boring errands at lunch, but I had about 30 minutes to spare so I followed some random garage sale signs. It was a pretty fall day, cool but sunny, so I think a lot of people decided to throw together one last garage sale before the snow flies.
When I pulled up to the first sale I saw a little old lady sitting in a lawn chair all by herself. I always see that as a good sign. Little old ladies have the best stuff, usually at the lowest prices.
Not so this time. This particular little old lady had easily over 100 jigsaw puzzles and that was about it.
But tucked in among those puzzles was a gallon sized Ziploc bag with a set of ‘day of the week’ dishtowels. Except they had only been stamped with the designs, the embroidery had never been done. Clearly she had good intentions, but never finished the job. The price? $30!
What?! Even if they were embroidered, $30 would be high for a garage sale price. Especially a ‘little old lady’ garage sale price.
So, I walked away with nothing.
The next sale I found was being held in a garage that was chock full of mounted deer heads. Literally, there were at least 20 of them on the wall. In the garage. They weren’t there as part of the sale, there was a very prominent sign that said “items on walls not for sale!” Those things aren’t cheap, so it surprised me to see them displayed in the garage. I mentioned something along those lines to the sale’s proprietor, a gentlemen probably around my age, and he said “you should see inside the house, that’s where all the best ones are.”
I’m not going to lie, I’m pretty seriously creeped out by stuffed dead animals of any kind. But this is Minnesota. There are many, many hunters here and it’s not at all unusual to see mounted trophies. So I didn’t let that deter me because clearly this garage sale was being held by a Collector with a capital C (unlike me, a non-collector).
This person collected dolls, depression glass, chintzware tea pots, vintage wood working tools, figurines … and obviously, mounted deer heads. An odd combination to be sure. I asked the guy if this was his parent’s house. Perhaps dad was a hunter and mom was the collector. But he never really answered that question.
Had I come across this sale 15 years ago, I definitely would have nabbed the chintzware teapots. I used to collect those too, but I got rid of all of mine except this one favorite.
Luckily for me … among all of the collectibles there were some vintage Christmas ornaments.
Unluckily for me, the ornaments were sorted into Ziploc bags (again with the Ziplocs!), fab vintage ornaments mixed with junky tacky ornaments. And they were priced at $10 per bag, a little steep. But then I did a little math in my head, each bag had around a dozen good ornaments mixed in with 4 or 5 bad ones. So even though $10 felt high, it was less than $1 per ornament, so I grabbed two bags.
I ended up with a really nice assortment of ornaments, many of them shaped like bells or other shapes.
I was especially excited to realize I’d scored not just one, but two teapot shaped ornaments.
It’s amazing to me that those delicate little spouts and handles haven’t been broken.
I also grabbed this toolbox. It’s pretty rusty, but I love the size and shape. I want to try and save the design on the front, but we’ll see how that goes.
As I was checking out, the proprietor asked me if there was anything else I collected.
‘No, um, well, yes, to be honest, yes I collect a few things but I hate to admit it.’
I mentioned vintage wind up alarm clocks and he said “There are tons of clocks inside, do you want to come in and take a look.”
I glanced over at the 40 fake deer eyes staring at me from the walls of the garage, looked around and noticed that I was totally alone here. I realized that this was the point in every horror movie where the audience wants to yell “noooo! don’t go through that door!” So I politely said “no thank you” and walked away with my bag of ornaments and my tool box.
Chances are probably good that I missed out on some great vintage stuff from inside the house. Had I not been alone, it would have been a different story. But you just never know. After all, if I didn’t return from my lunch break how long would it take for my co-workers to start to wonder where I was? And after that, how long before they guessed that maybe I stopped at some garage sales? How many months before they find my body buried out behind that garage full of mounted deer heads? I can just picture the ‘made for TV movie’ now, can’t you?