Thrift-store and garage-sale tips prepare you for big finds

Years ago, I thrift shopped with complete abandon. Little thought was given to equipment, packing material or how I would get my new-to-me treasures home.

Today, as yard sale, garage sale  and outdoor market season ramps up, I plan, and I turn my vehicle into a well-stocked  “thrift-mobile.”

Come on … Celebrities Holding Garage Sales?

What do Barb Tobias (The “Thrift Talk” Diva), Tori Spelling and Carol Burnett have in common?

We all have yard sales!  Yes, it is true.  Six degrees of separation be damned!  I’m in good stead.

I was stunned to learn, after reading numerous reports on People.com, Omg.com, and Thefrisky.com, that real celebrities were raising serious money through holding all types of sales; garage sales, tag sales, yard sales, porch sales, divorce sales, downsizing sales, moving sales…and are now moving into the corridors of high-rise apartment buildings where city dwellers are holding “lobby sales”.   And, here I thought that this Thrift Talking Diva had the corner on making good money at my fancy Diva Sales.

Yikes! Little did I know that I was going up against the likes of Tori Spelling, Scott Baio, Teri Hatcher, and Pamela Anderson. I’d been snookered and outclassed.  And, I would have to imagine that my stuff was probably pretty paltry in comparison to their stuff.

Sure, I’ve yakked for years about the benefits of holding tag sales and purging homes of unwanted and unloved things.  And, I’m still a strong advocate for the yearly cleanse (because it’s the only cleanse that’s capable of making a fast buck).  But, I was still having trouble wrapping my arms around celebrities hawking their junk … like the rest of us.

I kept asking myself, “Why would outrageously wealthy superstars hold yard sales?” So, I started doing a little celebrity snooping, and, voila, Diva Detective was born.  True, most stars hold sales through auction houses, but a few, such as Tori Spelling, Scott Baio, Teri Hatcher, and Pamela Anderson actually worked their own sales, albeit with professional and agent assistance. Many of them do it for charity; however, Tori actually pocketed the cash.

Star Willie Aames sold off his belongings at his suburban Kansas City home.  Apparently dozens showed up while Aames bargained with treasure-hunters and even signed autographs. Hundreds of people stood in line to snap up movie memorabilia, taxidermy, antiques, artwork, furniture, and even his piano. And, the shocker…his production crews were even there to film a television documentary.

A cable network recently shot a pilot for the project, titled “Celebrity Garage Sale,” staring actress Illeana Douglas.  Apparently the hook is that Douglas is on a mission to help her famous friends get rid of their unwanted junk by holding, you guessed it, a garage sale. They’ve brought in Tom Arnold to mix it up because his  garage sale is said to have raised $5,000 for Camp del Corazon, a summer camp for children with heart disease.

Scott Baio’s sale raised funds as well as awareness for mandatory newborn screening in all fifty states after his daughter tested positive for GA1, a metabolic disorder.  Fortunately, she is fine, after it was discovered that her results were a false positive.

Teri Hatcher raised $20,000 for her favorite charities through an invite-only, fifty-dollar entrance fee, yard sale and served Buttercream Cupcakes & Coffee to her customers!

And, Pamela Anderson was reported have sold one of her homes with all of the contents with the proceeds going to PETA.

Now here’s one that shook the fibers of my “divaness”. Supermodel Erin Wasson held a garage sale  selling off pieces from her personal wardrobe … the likes of  Balenciaga and YSL. Now, rumor has it that these rags sold for under $100.  Where was I when all this was happening?  According to Erin she was attempting to “edit down my wardrobe and be very Japanese, where you have one rolling rack…I love the idea of being super edited.” Awww…

So what’s the difference between their yard sales and mine?  So okay, the autograph signings are probably a draw. I’ll give them that.  And, maybe their furnishings are a tad more elegant.  And then there are the gowns, and posters and the jewels.  Hmmm…

Tossed & Found: Thrift Talk Diva Dishes On Getting Cash And Fab On Thrift

Tossed & Found: Thrift Talk Diva Dishes On Getting Cash And Fab On Thrift.

DENVER (CBS4) – Thrifting is a full-time job for some folks. For others, it’s a way to decorate, dress for less, or simply bring in some extra cash to make ends meet.

For Barb Tobias of Evergreen, thrift is a lifestyle. In her book, “Tossed and Found; Where Frugal is Chic,” she asks, “How would your life look if you tossed out the tired and unwanted … and found a new you?”

Tobias writes of treasures such as a $1,000 vase for $40 and designer outfits for $50. She decorates all shapes and sizes of homes using only thrift items. And she says you can actually thrift shop your way to wealth.

Tobias gives all kinds of ideas on where to find these items — from demolition to estate to garage sales — and how to look for the “good stuff.” She also has a great list of stores and marketing ideas so you can make the most of buying and selling.

Her web site is http://thrifttalkdiva.com/

Three caveats to living the chic life on thrift: Have patience. It takes time to make the best finds. You can’t build your own cheap and chic Rome in one day. Sometimes, a store might be packed with deals, other times, you might not find a thing. Secondly, make sure to purge the old when you bring in the new. Third, keep an open mind. This classic form of recycling has stood the test of time for a reason. Snobs do not find the real treasures.

On a personal note, I absolutely hate the feeling of knowing I left behind a diamond in the rough. As long as an item isn’t too expensive for my budget or too large for me to store, I’ll pick it up to avoid that pang of regret. If I change my mind, I’ll sell or give it away as soon as possible rather than let it collect dust.

And remember, there’s no law that says you have to tell people you bought something second hand. I usually do, just because I get a kick out of getting compliments on my Goodwill shoes. But if someone says they like your new find, you can always just smile and say, “Thank you for noticing!” — wink.

By the way — end-of-season clearance at Payless Shoes right now — I found some really cute styles for the kids (and even some for me!) for $3 to $8! I even bought some school shoes and some of those cool wedges I wanted, but wasn’t ready to pay full price. The sales clerk tells me the deals are going at all Colorado stores.

Happy hunting! Don’t forget our CBS4 Deals of the Day, and please pass along your thrifty tips in the comments section! I’d love to hear from you.

About The Blogger

– In her Brooke’s Bargains blog Brooke Wagner writes about finding bargains and saving money for her family. She calls it one of her favorite hobbies. Blog entries cover everything from the latest steals, deals, and freebies to cheap family activities, saving for college, and what to buy right now.

Thrift Shopping Your Way to Wealth

People often question why I continue to thrift shop … after all, I have more than everything I need.  I guess it boils down to my love of the hunt.   I love to scour the thrift shops and garage sales for items that can be made into something else. I enjoy creating new things out of old or used items. After all, I am a Diva and I love to change my environment … often.

I’m past worrying about whether I’ve made a purchasing mistake because I hold a Diva Sale at least once a year where I sell my “mistakes” and items I’ve simply grown tired of.

Another defining reason I shop thrift is knowing that I am saving so much money. In addition, recycling everything I own keeps my stuff out of our landfills.

On a recent “sale” shopping week I recorded my purchases and calculated the difference between what I paid during the 50% off sale, what I would have paid at normal thrift store prices and what retail would have cost me.  I was astonished…

Item Retail Thrift 1/2 price Sale
Cousances Cast Iron Vintage Blue Deep Skillet $109.99 $   9.99 $   4.99
Cousances Cast Iron Vintage Blue Omelet Fry Pan $    9.99 $   6.99 $   3.49
Pfaltzgraff Gravy Boat $    7.99 $   3.99 $     .99
Smoothie Freeze juicer $  29.99 $ 12.99 $   6.49
CX-CD241 Portable CD with AM/FM Stereo Tuner $  29.99 $   6.99 $   3.49
Audio phase CD and Cassette player/2 speakers $  59.95 $ 24.99 $ 12.49
Video tape rewind component $  15.99 $   3.99 $   1.99
Glass Storage Jar $    9.99 $   3.99 $   1.99
Drawer Divider $    5.99 $   1.99 $   0.99
Men’s Red Handkerchief $    4.99 $   0.99 $   0.49
Auto Flashlight . $    4.99 $     .99 $0.49
6 – Faux Leather placemats (Bed, Bath & Beyond $  35.94 $11.94 $5.94
Ceramic Box $    9.00 $   2.99 $1.49
Long black scarf $    9.99 $   1.99 $0.99
3 – Dinosaur Eggs $    9.99 $   2.97 $1.47
2 – Decorative throw pillows $  32.00 $   8.00 $4.00
7 – (Tag-on new) pairs underwear $  41.93 $ 13.93 $6.93
5 – Variety Cooking Utensils $    9.99 $   2.45 $1.20
2-Books $  49.90 $   6.00 $3.00
7 – CD’s $  90.30 $ 14.00 $7.00
Crazy Horse Ski Sweater $  24.99 $   4.99 $2.49
2 piece silk PJ set by Cerie $  15.99 $   4.99 $2.49
Wise World Sweatshirt $  32.99 $   4.99 $2.49
Pair (NEW) Diane Gillman Jeans $  46.00 $   8.99 $   .99
Pair Liz Claiborne Jeans $  28.99 $   5.99 $   .99
Pair ETHYL Vintage Jeans $  32.00 $   5.99 $   .99
Pair Faded Glory Black Denim jeans $  14.99 $   5.99 $   .99

Totals                                                                                                $824.84     $184.09        $79.17

I call this type of smart shopping “investing”!  Not only am I investing in my home and wardrobe, I am making wise purchases that can be sold at my “Diva Sales” after I’m finished with them or have found something better.   This way my merchandise is almost always recycled and I often recoup my investment.  I have started to put the difference between what I pay thrift and what my items would have cost retail into a savings account.  To hell with retirement! I am dying to take a trip; Africa is calling me, Victoria Island is my spring fantasy and Australia is beckoning me . . .

77 Year Old Woman Makes a Difference by Holding Garage Sales

 Rochester Hills, Mich: Neighborhood gives back for 19th year

Here’s a tip: When visiting Joanne Marcil’s home, watch your stuff. Just ask her husband, Ray, who left a jacket lying around. Joanne grabbed it and sold it at her community’s Make A Difference Day flea market. When Ray later asked her about it, she just smiled.

The project began in 1992 as a garage sale, raising $150 to buy high chairs for a soup kitchen. Marcil, 77, had such a good time she enlisted family and friends to create bigger events every year. The two-day market is now tradition, requiring 150 volunteers and five families’ garages to store donated items.

In 2010, the sale raised $13,000 for women in crisis, the homeless, people with chronic diseases and others. In 19 years, the project has raised $71,000. It’s hard work but well worth it, Marcil says. “I’m doing something to help this world, not just wishing things were better.”

$10,000 Make A Difference Day Award from Newman’s Own goes to The Baldwin Center, Pontiac, Mich.

This year’s judges:

Charles Gabrielson: President & Publisher, USA WEEKEND Magazine

Brian Gallagher: President and CEO, United Way Worldwide

Michael Havard: Vice President of Marketing, Newman’s Own Inc.

Kim Martin: President and General Manager, WE tv and Wedding Central

Michelle Nunn: CEO, Points of Light, Institute & Co-founder, HandsOn Network

A Collector of “Orphaned” Stuff

I am the queen of the unwanted; a collector of “orphans.”  Over the years I’ve embraced the flawed, snatched up rejects others passed over, delighted in the blemished and greedily coveted the imperfect and scarred. 

Like metal to magnets, yard sales, consignment shops and thrift stores still lure me into their murky depths to find wonderfully tarnished bits and pieces that I meticulously turn into treasures.  Spotting décor that is unique or unusual has become my specialty … my signature talent. And, dramatic objects that ooze style or demanded attention make me blubber with affection.  

After years of searching through the dimly lit recesses of garages, junk yards and barns, I’ve learned to ignore obvious defects, and concentrate on spotting the potential in every item. Identifying the latent beauty hidden beneath decaying layers of tarnish and grime became the rule as my skill and artistry grew. 

 

In addition to recognizing and purchasing promising finds, I’ve learned to fix broken legs, repair antique frames and mend holes in tattered throws.  Discovering that a peeling piece of furniture could be transformed with a brisk sanding and a new color, spurred me to reconsider items I would have normally passed on.  Oil stans became my best buddies as I turned the scratched and marred into things of beauty.  I learned what products took offf rust, what transformed mirrors into bright reflectores and what oils thirsty furniture craved.

Before I considered a piece worthy of purchase, I would first consider its assets, examining it from one angle then another, thinking, “What can I do with you?  How would you look in a different color? What would it cost me to repair you?”

Once I made the decision to rescue a waif, I would purchase the item if I felt that its condition warranted the asking price. Otherwise, I would make a reasonable offer hoping for acceptance or at least a friendly haggle.

Over the years I’ve transformed my home using amazing thrift finds that have turned a frumpy house into a fabulous home.  And, my nondescript wardrobe now boasts $20 fashion statements that are the envy of my frugal friends. 

 

 

 

 

Barb Tobias is a professional speaker and inspiring coach who renovates lives, homes and wardrobes by sticking her curious little nose into other people’s “thrifty business.” After a lifetime of transforming trash into treasure, this savvy mistress of thrift shares her secrets to finding deals, repurposing before tossing, reconstructing the tattered and renewing things others view as passé in her recent release…Tossed & Found; Where Frugal is Chic. Her “tell all” book is not simply a journey of personal transformation, but teaches a newly frugal nation how to purchase, purge and profit from thrift.    

 

 

How to Live a Life of “RE” … Renew, Recycle and Restore!

 

I began thrifting because it was fun and, quite frankly, I loved to shop. Okay, I still do. But, initially there was a deeper motivation for my need to haunt the secondhand shops that peppered my town … I was broke. I loved the fact that I could buy fabulous things for pennies on a dollar.  It didn’t take long for me to get hooked on the thrill of furnishing my homes or fashioning chic wardrobes found in thrift stores, garage sales, flea markets, consignment shops and auctions.  I became a veteran power shopper, quickly falling in like with each venue I tested and every tarnished treasure I uncovered.    

It wasn’t until much later that I began to realize I was actually recycling, inadvertently turning into a green queen rather than adding to the burgeoning problem of waste in America.

It began to occur to me that how we dispose of our used goods was critical to the overall health of our planet. Although we are encouraged to recycle our wastes, the truth of the matter is that this country still leads the world in the amount of trash that it produces.

I was astounded to learn that Americans generate over 200 million tons of garbage every year. That didn’t resonate until the EPA broke recycling figures down to the fact that each person produces about 4.5 pounds of solid waste per day! Yikes, that got my attention.

I thought that our country was pulling its weight in the recycling movement, but a full 67% of our junk is still tossed into landfills, while only 17% is recycled and 16% is burned as an energy source.

What really blew my mind was how much of our resources consume every year. The average person, over a lifetime, will use up;

  • 411 trees
  • 900 wire hangers

    More packaging than product!

  • 43,000 cans of soda
  • 3,895 paper cups
  • 2,025 rolls of paper towels
  • 15,334 plastic water bottles
  • 18,306 shopping bags
  • 12 shopping carts full of wrappers from candy bars!

            Recycling is certainly the answer for those that are intent on the greening of America, but only 17% of our nation has yet to establish an effective way to dispose of their used goods. According to the Wise Geek, 35% of the total material filling up landfills is packaging;

  • new product wrapping
  • fast-food containers
  • office paper
  • disposable diapers
  • Styrofoam inserts
  • and plastic bags

            A partial answer to the country’s recycling woes might be eased if more people proactively chose to purchase used goods from the wide variety of thrift venues that pepper our nation. Shopping for goods at these thrift outlets could all but alleviate the 67.9 pounds of used clothing each person tosses out every year. That individual number quickly adds up to a whopping 20 billion pounds of used clothing and textiles that make their way into our landfills yearly.

In the end it is up to us. Companies have little incentive to use recycled materials because it is expensive … a cost that is passed on to the consumer. It is simply cheaper for them to use new materials to make new products.  Therefore, buying used clothing and household furnishings eliminates the time, energy, labor, and money that go into making new products.

In summation, buy less, buy used, reduce the amount of garbage we produce, chose items with less packaging, reuse what you have and donate items that are no longer needed.

                                           Resources

Turning Garbage into Gold – http://www.solidwastemag.com/library/garbage.htm

Reassessing the History of U.S. Hazardous Waste Disposal Policy – http://www.fplc.edu/risk/Vol8/summer/Brown+.htm

Environmental Protection Agency – http://www.epa.gov

Start you own High Profit Thrift Store –http://startthriftstore.com/index.html

Wise Geek –http://www.wisegeek.com/s/recycle

 

Surprised by all the waste dumped into our landfills.

Barb Tobias, America’s “Thrift Talk” Diva, is an admitted thrift-aholic. This veteran radio and TV personality has crisscrossed the nation in her search for thrift. She is a master at teaching people how to find deals, repurpose before they toss, and reconstruct the broken.

A professional speaker, author of Tossed & Found and entertainer, Barb’s passion has become her profession; sharing her cost-conscious secrets with the nation.

Visit her at www.ThriftTalkDiva.com.

Bedbugs Infesting Thrifty Finds

Make sure your thrift purchases are clean. Otherwise, eew!
Nicole C. Jamieson August 3 at 12:13pm
Hi Barb! How are ya?!

I was thinking I’d really love to hear your thoughts about sanitizing new thrift purchases. Right now there is an outbreak of bedbugs in NYC, it’s a REALLY big problem and a total pest. It’s somewhat of an issue here in Philadelphia, but not as big. They can get in everything though! Obviously in mattresses, but also in upholstered furniture and clothing. Just thought you should hit on this topic because I’ve never heard any other thrifters speak on this.

Just food for thought!
Love,
Nicole

Barb Tobias August 3 at 1:59pm

Good thought Nichole. First rule of thumb…I never buy anything I can’t wash. Second rule of thumb … used mattresses and pillows are illegal to resell…just an FYI. So the problem lies in absorbing things like upholstered pieces into your home. I would suggest leaving those pieces in the garage and treating with a fabric-safe bug bomb…just to be on the safe side.  After a few applications, vacuum thouroughly before bringing them into your home. Thanks for the question…it’s a serious one.  The Thrift Diva

How to Hold a (Diva) Garage Sale

An excerpt from Tossed & Found by Barb Tobias, America’s ” Thrift Talk” Diva

It was a Diva of a Sale!

Part I

Selling used goods from driveways, yards, or inside a home has been referred to as garage salesyard sales or tag sales. People hold these weekend events to raise money or get rid of unwanted stuff. Although these sales are a lot of work, they are a great way to purge, turning unwanted items into profits.

The following schedule outlines how to chunk down tasks so that preparations are organized … and doable. With this parceled approach, the magnitude of a project does not have to be overwhelming.

A Diva of a Sale

Two Months Before the Garage Sale

I’ve learned to set the dates of my sales by considering the financial mindsets of my customers. They are typically scheduled for the 15th or 30th day of the month. Paydays! People are more likely to splurge after they’ve been paid versus the weeks they walked around with no money in their pocketbooks. After all, my goal is to attract buyers not window shoppers.

Two Weeks before the Sale

The transformation of my garage into my Diva Shoppe begins.

  • The entire garage is rearranged. All the things that are not being sold are moved to the back of the garage.
  • Areas that are off-limits are draped with sheets or tablecloths so that people won’t be tempted to examine items that are not for sale. I have learned that this ounce of preventions averts distractions, saving time once the garage sale is in full swing.
  • The garage is then cleaned from top to bottom.
  • Next, display tables are set in a u-shaped pattern, allowing for an easy traffic flow. People should be able to walk around and examine the merchandise without tripping over things. Sometimes a row of tables is placed right down the middle depending on the room I have.
  • Each table is topped with a  pretty tablecloth or piece of fabric.
  • Next I haul out my boxes and stack the labeled containers that hold similar contents next to each other.
  • I love to create scenes at my sales, so I place the same type of items, kitchen, family room, household, décor, clothing or toys in groupings so that I can pull the items out of the marked boxes and make my arrangements quickly.
  • My next project defines a labor of love. Tables are arranged attractively, with attention to every detail.  I go to great lengths to create eye-catching “tablescapes.” My reasoning is simple.  People like to shop in pleasant surroundings despite the fact that they are shopping at a garage sale.
  • Furniture is arranged in scenes or quasi rooms. In turn, each area is festooned with accessories, throw pillows, pictures and silk plants to create a warm inviting designer look.

Over time, it was obvious that my extra effort spent pulling together artful arrangements and furniture groupings resulted in heavier traffic and substantial sales.

Watch for the Diva Garage Sale – Part II

Garage Sale season is upon us!

Eleven new Estate Sales in Denver this weekend alone!  The garage sale season is upon us even though we still have snow in them thar hills.

If you want to find estate sales in your area go to www.EstateSales.net. This is the best resource (nationwide) that I have found for estate sales in local areas.

Check out these Denver sales then go have some fun in your area.

Let Us Entertain You!
by Cobblestone Too! -545 Meadowlark Drive
Denver, CO 80226
Google Maps or MapQuest or Yahoo Maps 3/25/2010 9:00 am to 4:00 pm (Thursday)
3/26/2010 9:00 am to 4:00 pm (Friday)
3/27/2010 9:00 am to 4:00 pm (Saturday)
3/28/2010 9:00 am to 4:00 pm (Sunday)

THE ESTATE OF ADELL BAILEY SHAFIEE
by Kathleen Orozco & Associates – Click for Details

2601 S. JACKSON STREET
Denver, CO 80210
Google Maps or MapQuest or Yahoo Maps

3/26/2010 9:00 am to 3:00 pm (Friday)
3/27/2010 9:00 am to 3:00 pm (Saturday)
3/28/2010 9:00 am to 3:00 pm (Sunday)

Sale of the YEAR – Denver Gypsy Boys!
by Denver Gypsy Boys – Click for Pictures

7397 S Tamarac St
Englewood, CO 80112
Google Maps or MapQuest or Yahoo Maps

3/26/2010 9:00 am to 4:00 pm (Friday)
3/27/2010 9:00 am to 4:00 pm (Saturday)
3/28/2010 10:00 am to 2:00 pm (Sunday)

A Very Nice Little Estate Sale
by A&A Estate Wizards, Inc. – Click for Pictures

1983 S. St. Paul
Denver, CO 80210
Google Maps or MapQuest or Yahoo Maps

3/25/2010 10:00 am to 4:00 pm (Thursday)
3/26/2010 10:00 am to 4:00 pm (Friday)
3/27/2010 10:00 am to 4:00 pm (Saturday

NICE DENVER ESTATE SALE BY STELLAR ESTATES
by Stellar Estate Sales – Click for Pictures

1888 S. Clay St.
Denver, CO 80219
Google Maps or MapQuest or Yahoo Maps

3/26/2010 9:00 am to 5:00 pm (Friday)
3/27/2010 9:00 am to 5:00 pm (Saturday

Estate Collectible & Like New Furniture Auction
by Corbett’s Auction House – Click for Pictures

4921 S. Santa Fe Dr
Littleton, CO 80120
Google Maps or MapQuest or Yahoo Maps

3/28/2010 11:00 am (Sunday)

THE ESTATE OF ADELL BAILEY SHAFIEE
by Kathleen Orozco & Associates – Click for Details

2601 S. JACKSON STREET
Denver, CO 80210
Google Maps or MapQuest or Yahoo Maps

3/26/2010 9:00 am to 3:00 pm (Friday)
3/27/2010 9:00 am to 3:00 pm (Saturday)
3/28/2010 9:00 am to 3:00 pm (Sunday)

Sale of the YEAR – Denver Gypsy Boys!
by Denver Gypsy Boys – Click for Pictures

7397 S Tamarac St
Englewood, CO 80112
Google Maps or MapQuest or Yahoo Maps

3/26/2010 9:00 am to 4:00 pm (Friday)
3/27/2010 9:00 am to 4:00 pm (Saturday)
3/28/2010 10:00 am to 2:00 pm (Sunday)

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