Black Friday is approaching (you may have heard about it), and with it a flurry of “pre-Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday” and “Small Business Saturday” steals and deals. I love a deal, so part of me thinks, “I should do Black Friday this year!”
But I don’t think I will. Partly it’s because I am so confused by all the pre- and post-sales. Partly it’s because I don’t want to stay up till midnight or get up at four. Partly it’s because I live in Litchfield, Minnesota (where Mike has gone to Black Friday sales at Wal-Mart mostly because we think it’s funny that you can do that in our little town).
Mostly, though, it’s because I am a garage sale fanatic. And while store sales are good and resale or thrift shop deals are better, garage sales are the best.
I have always been a garage sale fan, but becoming a parent has made me a fanatic. A week or two before Zoe was born, I had a sudden, profound need to buy her sweaters. My Baby Expert Book said she should have two sweaters in her layette, and I had none! Clearly, this had to be remedied immediately.
So off I went to two garage sales, where I bought, among other things, a tiny green sweater that she might have worn once and a pink cableknit sweater that she wore pretty often . . . about fifteen months after she was born. (Pro Tip: Newborns do not actually need sweaters. Also, they may be much smaller than you expect them to be.)
In the two and a half years since that first Parenting Garage Sale Expedition, I have honed my skills. I rarely pay more than a dollar for a piece of baby / toddler clothing. I snagged a Fisher Price Little People school bus for fifty cents and a Little People Noah’s Ark (or, as we prefer to call it, Pirate Ship) for a quarter.
Garage sales are also great if your child enjoys TV shows that are not quite current, or that have been around for a while (thanks, Netflix Instant). Zoe and I have found Teletubbies books and Happy Meal toys, Backyardigans stuffed toys, and Wiggles Everything.
What might be even better than the actual deals, which let me buy brands that I could not otherwise afford (and of course, let me buy more than I could otherwise afford), is the effect being a garage sale fanatic has had on my “regular” shopping. I used to find what I thought were great deals in the clearance section at Target. Now, I look at that toddler sweater and think, “Four dollars for one piece of clothing? Give me a break.” Back on the rack it goes.
Of course, winter is not exactly prime garage sale season in Minnesota. Next season, I will do a better job of buying toys and actually saving them for Zoe’s birthday or Christmas. (Well, I might do a better job. Zoe is actually a pretty good garage saler herself, which makes hiding purchases a little trickier.)
This year, I am forced to shop the sales, browse my favorite resale and thrift stores, and engage in that most economical activity: pretend shopping! Witness Zoe’s Amazon Wish List, 100 items and counting. At least I’ll know what to look for at next year’s garage sales, right?
What are some of the best garage sale finds you’ve made?