Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Insiders Tips on Getting Great Deals at Garage sales and Estate Sales

Update: With all of the election stuff and back to school issues on my mind, I've decided to hold off on the rest of this series. I'll re-publish this post next spring.

It’s finally here! Part I of my series on how to get great deals at garage sales and estate sales. Part I is all about the basics. I'm going to focus on what you should do before you even shop. Planning is second only to being in the right place at the right time (a.k.a luck).

I feel obligated to add a note about sensitivity before I begin. I hope everyone remembers that most estate sales are being held because an individual has passed away. Individuals leave many loved ones, friends, and family, who may or may not be at the sale. These people are not only mourning; they are having to watch strangers dig through the private lives of their loved ones. Strangers can unconsciously be insensitive by talking loudly about the ugliness of items or throwing items around as if they were trash. I have been guilty of this myself. I mentioned how ugly a handmade item was without realizing that a friend of the dearly departed was standing behind me. He began to cry. I apologized profusely and felt like a real bitch for the rest of the day. My point is watch what you say.

Fuel Prices
There are a gazillion cool sales in Ft. worth and Arlington, but I live in Dallas. I could go to these sales. I could compile a list, map out a plan, and be on my way. During my trip, I would easily put 200 miles on my car. At $4 a gallon, in an F-150, my trip would become a very costly treasure hunt. Even if I drove my Honda, which I wouldn't because it's too small to carry the deal-of-the-decade purchases, I would pay $25 in gas. Plus, I would be 200 miles closer to a $40 oil change. Furthermore, around noon I would get hungry, and I would spend another $5 on food. My trip would cost me around $40 dollars, and there would be no guarantee I would find anything I'd want to buy. The whole point of shopping these types of sales is to save money. Decide how much gas you want to burn, convert that into mileage, and map out an area that is three dollars less than the amount you want to spend. The three dollars gives you leverage to go back to sales that will be having afternoon discounts.

Your Beautiful Children
Many estate sale companies no longer admit small children into their sales. This is a case of rude parent vs. respectful parent. I can't count how many times I've seen little kids left alone to break things, throw things, destroy antique toys, play dress up in expensive mink coats while eating lollipops, or play with the crystal. I can't blame the kids who are doing what kids do. I also can't blame the estate sale companies who are financially responsible for the items the kids are breaking. Please know, that if you have kids in tow, some companies will turn you away at the door. I recommend that you at least ask if you can bring the kids in and promise to be responsible for your children. I've seen many companies let parents bring in kids on the condition that the parent holds the child. If you are turned away, take it in stride. It's not personal.

Finding the Sales
1- Check your local newspaper daily. Those who live in big cities should also check for estate sales that have been hidden in the garage sale section. Many papers charge higher fees for listing an ad in the Estate Sale section. Hidden estate sale ads will frequently contain these things: two/three day sales, cash only, everything must go, or contents of an entire house for sale. Many companies who advertise this way have secret codes for their customers. For example, a local Dallas company uses a pattern of stars. As you visit sales, ask people where they advertise. They will tell you if they use a code.

2- Craigslist is a wonderful place. I usually begin checking the garage sale section on Sunday evening. Estate sales are posted in this section as well. Not only do I start compiling a list of sales I want to visit, I look up the directions, too, so I won’t be overwhelmed the night before I go on my bargain hunt.

3- Many companies list their estate sales at This is a national site which I check daily.

4- Dallas/Ft. Worth residents must check out Fred and Terry, the awesome people who run this site, take pictures of their clients’ sales and post them on the site. They also have several membership programs that, for a small chunk of change, will save you a lot of time.

5- Google "estate sale companies." These searches will lead you to local company websites.

6- When you’re at a sale, ask the cashier if they have a website and an email list. Get your name on the email list before you leave.

7- Map it out. I always try to have some kind of plan before I head out in the morning. Usually I begin with a sale that I most want to visit, then I go to the sale closest to that sale, and so on. This saves me time and gas. In all honesty, I don't create a map. I just put the directions together in the order I plan to visit each sale. Try and stay flexible. I stop at almost every unadvertised garage sale I see along the way.

8- Know what you need before you go.I keep a list with me of things I am looking for. Here are some of the items you would find on my list:
1- Clothing and shoe sizes for the kids
2- Window measurements
3- Door measurements
4- The square footage of a room I want to re-floor
5- Gift list
6- Cleaning supply list
7- Teachers' wish lists
8- Picture frames
9- Vintage fabric and buttons

Choosing the Sales
When it rains it pours sales. Here are some ways you can weed through sales when creating your list:

1- Try and preview a sale. Many companies post pictures on their websites, and on 24-7 posts pictures of their client's sales. Individuals will often post pictures on Craigslist. If nothing interests you in these pictures, don't go to the sale unless you have time. Make it the last stop on your list.

2- Look for family-run sales because you will often get better pricing. You will find these sales by carefully reading advertisements. Look for the ones that don’t sound as if they’ve been written by a P.R.agent – these are possibly family run sales.
Part II

Part two of this series will focus on getting great deals at garage sales and estate sales. Wanna learn to haggle? Stay tuned...

If your blog has an article that applies to this post, leave me a comment, and I'll ad a link to your article.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Who Ate all the Chocolate

I'm really craving some chocolate right about now. I'm up working on the post I promised to have done by Sunday and it is now Monday morning. Anyway, I just went to the pantry to retrieve my emergency bag of chocolate chips. Guess what? They are all GONE! Yes, I said gone. One of the children ate all of my chocolate chips. Obviously, I have failed as a parent. I guess I just assumed that males knew better than to eat the last of a woman's chocolate. Now I must teach by revenge. That's right. I found their little boxes of Fruit Gushers, and I'm sitting here eating ALL of them. Hide your chocolate, Ladies. There really are goblins that steal food in the night. They are called children.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Karen's Gifts and More

I was thrilled to learn I won an Ice Crystal Pearl set #1728 from Karen’s Gifts and More. The necklace and earrings looked very delicate and feminine – just my style. Last week, I received my goodies, and I was stunned by the over all quality of the pieces. The set retails for $21.99, so I was expecting to get something similar to what I would find at a department store for the same price. I was wrong. The first thing I noticed was how heavy the envelope was. This was a good sign that I’d really won a treasure. Inside the mailer, I was greeted by two pretty draw-string bags that could easily be slipped into a gift bag or small box for gift giving. The jewelry inside those little bags was stunning. I love that the pearls have a subtle luster that is neither pink nor green, but a silvery shade that gently reflects the light cast off of the beautiful multi- faceted ice crystals. Coincidently, I worked my way through college in the upscale designer fashion jewelry market. I’ve seen a lot of high quality pieces, and they retail for much more. I think this particular set would be stunning with a little black dress, or one could give them to bridesmaids as gifts. I can’t wait to wear my gems. Thanks Karen! You can see all of the fabulous products and services Karen offers by visiting her site:

Friday, July 18, 2008

The Moldy City

Greetings from Dallas where the mold count sits proudly at high. Yes, we do things big in Texas, even when it comes to our mold. My son and I, both highly allergic to the little spores, are miserable. I told you that I'd be posting my new estate sale series today, but the mold had different ideas. Sorry. You can look for the first posting Saturday or Sunday.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

We Mourn Our Microsoft Death

Yestarday, my stepson and I had a conversation that went something like this:

Mr. Mohawk: Most wonderful Stepmother.

Me: Yes, most wonderful Stepson.

Mr. Mohawk: The Xbox has the Red ring of Death.

Me: Sounds cool. Is that a new map?

Mr. Mohawk: What? No! The Xbox is dead.

Me: What?

Mr. Mohawk: Yeah.

Me: I just bought it!

Mr. Mohawk: Well, it's dead.

Me: Did you turn it off?

Mr. Mohawk: Yeah.

Me: Did you turn it back on?

Mr. Mohawk: Yes.

Me: Hmm... I'll have to dig out the warranty.

Mr. Mohawk: Did you buy it from store X?

Me: No.

Mr. Mohawk: If you bought it from store X, they give you an Elite when you get the Red

Ring of Death.

Me: Well, I bought it from store Z.

Mr. Mohawk: It's gonna take like three weeks to get it back.

Me: Oh. Uh-sorry.

Mr. Mohawk: We need to buy an Elite.

Me: I just spent 300 bucks on that one!

Okay, I didn't just buy it. It was a Christmas gift from hubby and me, so it's been a little over seven months. I don't know about you, but when I spend $300 on something, I expect it to last at least three to five years. Apparently, my expectations for this lovely gaming system were too high. I dug around the Internet only to find that we are not alone. Shame on you Microsoft! I haven't contacted Microsoft yet. I've got to dig out the warranty crap from the "To File" pile and do whatever it is I have to do to get my $300 machine fixed. And, because I have nothing better to do today, it probably won't get done until tomorrow. Make no mistake about it, I will have a few questions for them. For example: Are you going to credit our Xbox Live account for the time period we are unable to access it? Are we going to lose maps that we have paid for? I'll let you know how this goes. For future reference, I book marked the following site: This person has created some kind of fix -it kit that will retail for around $13. I will buy this product when it becomes available. My fear is that I we will get the damn thing back from Microsoft, and in another seven months, red rings will be swirling in front of my eyeballs. Mr. Computer Geek Genius (husband) would secretly enjoy getting to use the Little fix kit, and I wouldn't have to do a thing! I want to know what genius said technology is going to replace humans. This person obviously never experienced red rings, dead mother boards, or 6:00 A.M. emergency phones calls regarding screwy code.

Cheap is Not a Bad Word!

My middle name should have been Frugal, but my mother got it wrong and named me Julie Kristine. Likewise, Mr. Computer Geek Genius’s middle name should have been Full-Price, but his mother got it wrong, too. Normally, we balance each other out financially. These days, unfortunately, are different. Mr. Computer Geek Genius, is having to learn about frugality. He’s not happy about this new form of schooling, like many people I know who have begun attending classes with him. Yes, it seems everyone is having to cut back or cease driving. In light of this, I’ll be occasionally posting blips regarding the art of being cheap. These thrifty tid-bits will be archived under the title You Paid How Much for That? And, I’m going to start right now with an introduction to a three-part series regarding everything I know about garage sales and estate sales. Let me know what you think. I also have a couple of small contests on the horizon because free is good!

You Paid How Much for That? : How to Get the Best Deals at Garage Sales and Estate sales

I love antiques – I have been in the business for a couple of years. I even had a fabulous job with an estate sale company. Unfortunately, the job required using a lot of gasoline which depleted paychecks quickly. Many moons ago, I began scouring garage sales and estate sales for old treasures. I soon realized I could save a bundle of dough buying household items, kids stuff, and gifts at these sales. My recent deals include, but are certainly not limited to the following:

$1: A full bottle of Channel #5 cologne for my mama

$2: Brand new Bobby Brown bronzer

$60 A gargantuan, antique, stained glass window that is larger than I am

$10: New belts from Orvis that retail at over $55 each

$5: Vintage skateboards for Mr. Mohawk

$.50-$2 Tide, Swiffer, Clorox Wipes

$2-$5: New Candles and Gift Sets

The deals are abundant if you know how to find them. Tomorrow, I’ll begin a three- part series to pass along my knowledge of estate sales and garage sales in hopes that others might find a way to keep more of their hard-earned money in the bank.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Heathen Hair Update

It's official. Mr. "I'm Not a Girl", after deliberating for a week, decided to get a hair cut. He made me download this particular picture for his online network. Of course, he chose the one in which he was not smiling.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Heathen Hair

Apparently, we have hair issues in my house. I didn’t know we had issues, but lucky for me, some very concerned citizens, and a few opinionated family members have shown me the light. What are these hair issues you might ask? Well, let me tell you. The children have “unrespectable” hair styles. We have Mr. Fro, Mr. Mohawk, Mr. Spike, and Mr. “I’m Not a Girl." Yes, we have everything one needs to highly irritate the least conservative do-gooder and a grandparent or two. We feel the scorn of judgment every time we go into public. The sour scrunch face, the hateful glare, the disapproving headshake, and the, “Oh my God,” have all been tossed our way.

Am I annoyed? Not really. Mostly, I’m forever puzzled, but not surprised, that many people fail to recognize what’s really important in life. I mean, never mind the fact that these four boys do generous and kind acts for friends and strangers alike. Never mind the fact that they are loving caring individuals taught to accept all people regardless of race, religion, disability, e.t.c. . . Never mind the fact that their academic and artistic achievements are numerous. Never mind all of that. None of it matters because to some people stuck in their trite, socially- created mind set the only thing they will ever notice about these boys is their heathen hair.

Monday, July 7, 2008

No Comment Button

I finally got this blog up and running, but, of course, not without a hitch. I have no comment button. The early hours of the morning found me digging through help sites trying to fix the problem. Hopefully, I won't have to break down and ask Mr. Computer Genius because he is annoying. This may take some time. God has blessed me with many talents, but I do believe he laughed when he thought about giving me some brains for technology.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Our House

The Blog

I find it frustrating that all the medical geniuses in the world have yet to develop a vaccine protecting mothers against media-driven hype, and pointless conversation regarding husbands’ job titles and preschool waiting lists. Shame on you medical genius people. Get to work! And while you’re at it, feel free to post your progress on this site.


I sit at my computer with an eight-pound Chihuahua asleep in my lap. Earlier this morning, eight-pound Chihuahua escaped out the front door in a fiery frenzied attempt to bite a couple of power walkers. This little scrap of a dog is what I got when I asked for another baby. Yes, he is an adorable bundle of joy, but if you piss him off, he will crap in your bed. There is a big fat grouchy cat glaring at me because the Chihuahua is in my lap and he isn’t.

Nine boys are gathered behind me playing XBOX, and screeching. This morning I had four children. They seem to be multiplying, which is fine, as long as it is done within spy-shot of my nosey mother’s eye.

Sitting across from me is my remarkable husband, Mr. Computer Genius Geek. He built us a partners’ desk saying, “So we can spend more time together, Dear.” I am not fooled. His construction project was nothing more than a ploy to ensure that I see every single “You’re a DUMBASS,” look he throws my way when I curse at the computer and pound on the keyboard.

There is a 39th birthday looming around the corner, and a couple of grey hairs planning a terrorist attack on my head. A copy of the new My Morning Jacket co belts out at full volume. I can’t hear it. Of course, there is a coffee cup on my desk and a few matching rings reminiscent of a thousand predecessors.

My household is chaotic, loud, and cluttered. You probably wouldn’t want it, and I wouldn’t give it to you if you did. I love the little wink my husband throws at me from his judgment side of the desk. My heart melts when a teenager whizzes by, drops a kiss on my head, and says that he loves me. I am never lonely. Even when I’m the only one home, there are enough shedding creatures to keep me company. Plus, I’m not out of coffee. Life is good at my place.