so apparently i have quite a bit to say on the subject. some of this might be ‘duh-doi’ info, but hopefully there’s something useful in here for you!
okay, let’s talk rummage sales. or jumbles, bazaars, boot sales, or whatever they call it in your neck of the woods. this should hopefully be applicable to any kind of community resale event-type-thing.
location, location, location:
if you don’t already have a usual rummage sale that you attend, and you’re looking at new ones, one thing to note is the area it’s located in. most of my favorite rummage sales are churches or community centers in more affluent areas. these are areas where people routinely buy (and then cast off) higher brands. one potential hand off with this, though, can be pricing. if the people sorting know what something cost first hand, they are more likely to take that into account when pricing it for re-sale. it occasionally makes me grumpy, but them’s the breaks, kid.
what to wear:
you want something light and flexible. i wore: a light shift dress and comfortable slip on shoes. i could try things on really easily in this without worrying about flashing anyone (if there’s a place to try anything on, it will almost certainly be communal). i can usually tell by looking or holding something up to myself if it’ll fit, but i can’t always tell if it will be flattering. and i always try on jeans & pants, unless i know the brand and my sizing therein really, really well. so with a light dress, i can pull tops on over it, and don’t have to worry about weird lumps, and pull pants on easily. comfortable shoes are a must, you are going to be on your feet for the whole thing. i like to make sure they are slip on shoes, in case you want to try on shoes or a pair of pants, so you don’t have to bother with the fuss of re-tying them.
BYOB: bring your own bags
yeah, they usually pack everything up for you, but my fave sale ties the handles and puts a sticker on it, which kind of minimizes the usefulness of the handles. i grabbed a few of my larger capacity, longer handled tote bags which i usually use for shopping, and was able to stuff several of the plastic bags into each one, making it much much much easier to tote my purchases around. plus, i always opt out of disposable bags when i can. bonus: brownie points for saving the environment!
on this note, minimize what you have with you. many women already carry very small purses and don’t need this advice, but i am perpetually terrified of boredom, and tend to have a book & knitting and a dozen other things hanging out in my purse. ditch those for the sale, it’s just extra weight, and you aren’t gonna get bored. i usually grab just my wallet, cell phone & snack and chuck those in one of my shopping totes.
these are not long standing established businesses. these are one day events. anything other than cash is a huge hassle to them. they’ll occasionally accept personal checks, but i never have those on me, and i haven’t seen them accept debit/credit cards like ever. hit up the bank or the atm on your way, or day before, and save yourself some frustration.
make a list, check it twice:
have an idea of what you hope to find. for me, at least, this makes it so much easier to find it. i can sometimes forget what i’m looking for when offered up hundreds of thousands of objects. it also helps me to prioritize which sections i want to go to, and where i’m willing to spend the most time/money. i start brainstorming about a week in advance, so that i’m not making the list last minute and forgetting things i’ve been meaning to look for for months. i also have two tiers, things i think i’m likely to find or are a priority, and my running list of things to keep an eye out for, but it’s no rush, i’ll find them when i find them.
here’s a sampling from earlier this month:
-thin metal spatula
-cross body purse
-flannel shirts for my father-in-law
-popcorn maker for mom
-christmas-y flannel shirt (haven’t gotten around to altering jake’s, and hey, if i happen to find one in my size…)
think about when you want to go:
this really depends on several variables. do you want first crack at some of the larger items, like a couch? you wanna be there early. at opening, maybe even before depending on the size and popularity of the sale. be prepared for other people with priorities. some of them may be aggressive. do you want a more laid-back experience to shop around for your casual-but-not-urgent list of things? middle of the sale for you. the hard-core morning people will mostly have filtered out, and the end-of-day sales won’t have started yet. looking for the most bang for your buck? depending on the sale, they might slash prices or do a bag sale (pay a set amount, receive a bag, shove as much in as will fit, and as long as they can close it at the end, you’re golden) in the last hour or two of the sale.
i personally like to go in the middle. scout for higher priority items and pay full price for those, keep my eyes out for things i might want to come back for if i (and they) are still around when prices get lowered.
think about how you’re spending you’re $$$:
i am much more likely to buy things that would cost more money first hand. nice blazers, sweaters, winter coats, dresses and skirts from brands that i don’t like to shell out monies for at full price; those are much higher priorities to me than t-shirts, or the inevitable forever21 pieces that i find. i think of it as an overall discount kind of thing. wool-blend gap or j. crew blazer? that would probably have been in the $100-200 range when it was full price, and here it’s marked for $8. that’s a way better value than this forever21 blouse that cost $25 maximum full price, now marked to $4. not that i don’t end up buying those things sometimes, too. ^_^ i also find kitchen stuff to be great deals. nice pots and pans are expensive! let someone else pay for it upfront and find that it doesn’t suit their cooking needs, then swoop it up for a deal!
say you’re scouting for clothes. obviously (if you’re a lady), you’ll want to try the ladies section, and any other related fashion sections (larger rummage sales will sometimes have a special section with nicer brands, newer styles, or tags-still-attached items), but not everyone who is sorting these things are going to always know what’s what. i’ve found womens stuff in the girls section (and one of my all time favorite cardigans was from the girls section). i also scout in the boys section for sweaters and t-shirts. and i like the mens section as much as anywhere else. mens sweaters tend to be what i will unravel for yarn (why hellllllo, you XXL aran sweater made with an alpaca & merino blend, you are coming home with me!), and you never know what you’ll find!
if you want the treasure, you may have to dig:
there’s lots of stuff here, but there are also lots of people here. the best stuff probably won’t be conspicuously displayed, separate from the other stuff, with a spotlight on it. nope, it’s probably under 12 or 15 other things, at a depth that other shoppers have yet to forage to, at the back of a stack, or under the table in a box that is a little more annoying to get at. get in there, who knows what treasure you’ll find?
keep the large purchases til the end:
by large, i mean size, not cost. some sales will have areas where you can store purchases and come back to pick them up, or will mark furniture as sold until you can come back for it. but otherwise, you are gonna be toting it around with you. keep that in mind if you’re looking at, say, a cast iron skillet, or a painting, or whatever might be heavy or unwieldy over an extended period of time. loving it enough to spend money on it is a different question from loving it enough to carry it for another hour or two of rummage sale-ing. (or at least it is for me! i find than my love of an object wanes if the frustration it gives me waxes.)
this only applies to non-priority items. if you’re here looking for that couch, and you find it, then you better claim it. but with non-priority stuff, i like to make a deal with myself. if i don’t *neeeeed* it (that being, of course, extremely relative), then i walk away from it. keep looking. if i think about it enough, then i’ll come back for it. if it’s not there anymore, then hey, i didn’t *neeeeed* it, and now i don’t have to spend that money!
bring a snack:
have you ever gone to ikea for a few small things, and found yourself overwhelmed and exhausted but only halfway through the process? it’s really helpful to have a granola bar and a bottle of water on hand. same holds true for a rummage sale.
these rules aren’t hard and fast. i know that my favorite rummage sales are some of the largest out there, so you might have a completely different experience if the entire rummage sale fits into one room, for example.
did i miss anything? i know some of you aren’t rummagers, do you think this’ll change? what are your favorite things to look for?