My Childhood is For Sale

A trip to a local antique shop has made me feel old and depressed.  I didn’t realize that the contents of my childhood toy chest made for the inventory of an antique shop.  And when did toys from the ’80s become antiques?  Oh, I know, it’s when the kids these days started wearing those ridiculous skinny jeans.  And check out these prices.  Forget investing in blue chips, I should have bought more action figures.

My Little Ponies ranged in price from $25 to $48 for a purple unicorn, and the plastic Coke yo-yo I thought was a novelty was priced at $75!

Hubby’s Star Wars figures are priced at $15-$25, but what really shocked us was that an original Nintendo sells for $148. Please tell me who is buying a 30 year old gaming system and what are they doing with it?  I can barely pay someone to take away my Rock Band set.  Maybe I should hold onto it until 2044?


The only thing toy that made us feel happy was the Darth Vader Mask.  We bought ours at a garage sale for $1 (I wrote about it here) but the antique shop priced it at $80.


Grandma’s House or Antique Mall?

It also appears that the antique store robbed my mom’s china hutch and my grandmother’s house. They have Oma’s coffee mugs, coffee maker, jam jars, cookware, crystal glasses, etched wall mirror, Royal Dalton dolls, framed needlepoint, glass sculpture, and furniture.  I’m not sure how I would feel if I saw all my belongings for sale in a store.

An entire set of mom’s china pattern is for sale.  It’s the delicate pink flowers and gold trim of Royal Albert’s Lavender Rose.  The teapot is priced at $150 and a dessert plate for $9.50.  Mom thinks this is outrageous.  The store’s website tells me that for the dishes to have value they must have been manufactured in England.  If it doesn’t say England, than it’s a China-made new production.collage_china_crystal

And there are the loads of crystal classes. These ones sell for about$4/piece, which I think is inexpensive.  Can you tell crystal from glass?  My friend has a very clever grandma that takes advantage of people who don’t care to know the difference.   She heads to garage sales bright and early, buys all the crystal priced as glass and sell it at the flea market!

If you’re not sure if it’s crystal or glass, there are few tests to try:

  • Read the label.  Obvious I know, but my $4 crystal vase still had the label on it.
  • Crystal shines like a prism.
  • Crystal is heavy.
  • Crystal sounds bright.  Flick it or run a wet finger around the edge.  Crystal makes a pleasant sound, glass is dull.
  • Crystal can be worked thin.  Check the rim.


singer_sewingWe can’t talk about antiques without talking about Singer sewing machines.  I’m a bit of an expert these; I watched an episode of Pickers once. Don’t get excited if you have one of these, they aren’t worth as much as you’d like.  Singer made a variation of this machine from the 1850s (in the 1920’s they added electricity) to the 1970’s. They were very popular – everyone had one – which makes them not very valuable today.  Plus most modern people don’t want a hundred pound piece of furniture (ok – my Singer “featherweight” is only 30 lbs).

The biggest surprise to me at the antique store was the prices on what I consider old and out of date housewares.  I don’t know who would want these “antiques” at all, much less pay more than a couple of quarters for them.  I guess the antique mall is too rich for me, and I’ll just have to stick to garage sales.



7 Tips for a Great Garage Sale

I’ve been known to visit a few garage sales in my time, and to throw a couple too, so I’ve come up with a few tips.

  1. 7 Tips for a Great Garage SaleHave a large inventory.  Be sure to have enough stuff to warrant sitting around for a whole weekend selling it.
  2. Merchandising.  Think like a store.  Have your stock sorted, organized and clean.  Display your good stuff out front.
  3. Signage. Lots of them.  Make it easy to get to your house.  I like easy to follow arrows, hubby likes a straight forward address.  Sometimes if we get lost on our way to a sale, we’ll just give up.
  4. Pricing.  Price it clearly, price it to sell.  Buyers like to know the cost, they feel uncomfortable making the first bid.  10%-25% retail is standard.  You can mark a whole table or box of stuff at the same price.
  5. Advertise the big stuff.  Big and/or expensive items are difficult to move at garage sales.  Put it up on kijiji before the sale starts and have them pick it up during your sale.  Don’t forget my kijiji rule – only respond to polite and properly written replies.  Shout out to Weird Al for putting this sentiment to music.
  6. Have Change.  You’ll need small bills and change.
  7. Make it a party.  Get your neighbours, family, and friends to join you.  “Multi-family” sales are always more appealing and fun.

Good luck with your sale!

Love Thy Neighbours’ Garage Sale

garage_saleI know the exact moment I became old.  It was a lovely Saturday morning in the summer of ’12.  I was driving through my neighborhood, listening to CBC radio, and I saw the sign – literally.  Garage sale!  I followed the arrows and soon found myself rummaging through someone else’s junk.  Ever since my first taste, I can’t stop.

Now it’s become a weekly adventure.  Sometimes we take our cruisers and prowl the streets.  Other times we drive to the fancy communities with our fancy lattes.  We never know what we’ll find.  It’s just like my very own Antique Picker Wars.  It’s really hit or miss.  Sometimes there’s nothing but yogurt containers and other times it’s crystal and nerd toys.

When we first starting shopping, we made one rule.  Fair prices are paid – no haggling on good deals.  Other than that, it’s fair game.  Plus now we know where to find the good sales.  Run down neighborhoods are more likely to have run down stuff and is the only time we find cigarette smells.  Young neighborhoods with young families have lots of baby and kids stuff in great condition.  Old neighborhoods tend to have all sorts of things from another era.

We’ve found many items worth our cash – kitchen wares, books, dvds, knitting needles and craft supplies, crystal vase, nerd stuff, power tools, mahogany headboard, baby toys, golf caddy, art, garden supplies, furniture,…  He are a few of our favorites.

Favorite Buy: Road runner carved in wood.  I have this memory of when my twin brother and I were 4 years old.  We were playing with my mom’s carved wood bird.  It was like an asymmetrical seesaw, and if you pushed down on the tail it would pop back up.  Except it wasn’t a toy.  Mom warned us to stop playing with it or we’d break.  No way, I thought.  Then all of a sudden it’s beak was broken off.  I’m sure it was my brother’s fault, I don’t have any memory of breaking it.  Well, guess what I found at one sale.


Road Runners – Mom’s (above), Garage Sale Find (below)

Darth Vader Helmet

Darth Vader Mask


Hubby’s Favorite Buy:  Toss up between the Darth Vader mask or the beer stein collection.  Vader cost $1 and the steins cost between 10 cents and a $1.

Beer Stein Collectiion

Beer Stein Collection




Best Deal: Commercial blender with 3 HP, $25.  The seller had gotten out of the smoothie business, and I got the best blender ever.

Worst Deal: Old garden trellises.  I got three of them for two bits each.  They’re ugly, broken, and I don’t know what I was thinking.  Sometimes other people’s trash is just trash.  Don’t buy stuff just because it’s cheap.  Lesson learned.