Come on … Celebrities Holding Garage Sales?

July 18, 2011 by  
Filed under Blogs, 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,, and, 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…

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

April 10, 2011 by  
Filed under Blogs, 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

March 4, 2011 by  
Filed under Blogs, Garage Sales

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.    



Thrifty Holiday Decorating Tips

December 2, 2010 by  
Filed under Decorating


I am a hopeless thrift-aholic … saver of parts … collector of broken stuff … savior of discarded orphans.

I love to put together all the unloved pieces that people throw away to make creative masterpieces.  And, no season brings more opportunity than the Holiday Season.

I begin my Holiday decorating by purging and sorting.  First I pull out all my Christmas finds and begin the process.  One pile is a group of “orphaned” items that will be used to fashion holiday displays.

This year I made a splendid centerpiece from odds and ends collected throughout the year from various thrift venues…garage sales, flea markets and estate sales.  Earlier in the year I found a solidly built chrome stand that once held a globe … I presumed.  I wasn’t sure what I would do with the piece, however I loved the height and heft of it and snatched it up for a mere $2.00.  I was a little concerned that I might not find a lantern that would fit effectively within the ridged top, but felt it was worth a try. 




I’ve learned, from being a hopeless thrift-a-holic for over thirty years, that patience eventually pays off.  And, sure enough … four or five months later, I was delighted to find a cracked glass hurricane.  I placed my new acquisition on my miscellaneous shelf where it sat until this holiday season.

After I had sorted all my items I was anxious to see if the globe would fit into my tall, stately stand. As I slid the lantern into place it was the perfect fit!

Next I got busy creating my Christmas centerpiece.  I took two random greenery vines, twisted them about the base and placed a fresh pine-scented candle within the globe. Now I had a centerpiece worthy for the most festive table … for under $10.00!




Greenery and garlands, collected throughout the garage sale season, are draped over mirrors, mantels and bowls.  These festive ropes are often decorated with odd flowers, berries, balls and candles. 


And finally, I enjoy decorating with some holiday humor … adding a little spice and personality to my rooms. Often, décor pieces that adorn my home year ‘round, are decorated with a bit of holiday whimsy.

Barb Tobias – Guest Speaker for Love, Life and Lipstick

November 15, 2010 by  
Filed under Press Room

Barb Tobias – Guest Speaker for Love, Life and Lipstick

We are women, mothers, wives and professionals who share a vision of uniting all women, expanding and creating new opportunities, living life to the fullest and sharing ideas.

 Love Life and Lipstick is a complaint free environment full of support and uplifting hands. Join us each month and meet great new women, hear about exciting business ideas and plan on inspiration from the speakers for each event.

Women are amazing, we have the ability to create, to love, to grow and want more for others then we do for ourselves. When that power comes together into a room, great things happen … that is the purpose of Love Life and Lipstick!

This month we will feature Barb Tobias;  professional speaker and inspiring coach … a woman who renovates lives by sticking her curious little nose into other people’s “thrifty business.”

 Barb speaks with candor about her journey; the pitfalls, the heights and the call to reinvent oneself.  She is quoted as saying,  I have sought inspiration in varying level at various times and have found that there is a rich tapestry of inspiration and those that inspire. Prophetic whisperings may come to us in different forms; a song we hear in the background, a headline or even a book title. Maybe the Universe is trying to give us a nudge or some divine spirit is vying for our attention.  Regardless of the venue or purpose of these innocuous inklings, we know at a core level that we have connected with a higher power.

Every guest this month will  walk away with an autographed copy of her book Tossed & Found.

Event Date: Wednesday November 17, 2010

6:30-9:00 p.m.- 26476 E Peakview Drive, Aurora CO 80016

This events Cost: $20.00 Cash event (includes book)- feel free to bring your business cards or brochures to share.

RSVP is needed for this month’s event to ensure that we have plenty of books and seating.

Meet America’s “Thrift Talk” Diva … Barb Tobias

November 15, 2010 by  
Filed under Press Room

Anthology Book Company

422 East 4th Street Loveland, CO 80537

(970) 667-0118

Friday November 19, 2010

6:00—7:30 PM

Barb Tobias, is an admitted thrift-aholic…a veteran radio and TV personality, former fashion model and professional speaker. Barb crisscrosses the nation in search for “fabulously frugal finds”.


Join Barb for a free presentation and book signing.

Frugal is Chic Tour

November 8, 2010 by  
Filed under Press Room

On the road again ... Frugal is Chic Tour

It was great fun seeing old friends and making new ones as I toured the very chic consignment shops of Birmingham, AL and Atlanta, GA, confirming that all that famous and infectious southern charm is still alive and well!

Betty Anderson from Fun Finds and Designs in Canton, GA was the first to host the launch of my new book Tossed & Found. Her consignment shop looked spectacular, she put on an amazing spread, and her partner in crime (Terry) made certain that the patrons had a full glass of velvety wine.

Betty Anderson

Barb Tobias’s presentation at Fun Finds Consignments in Canton Georgia exceeded all expectations. Her new book Tossed & Found highlights her life-changing foray into the world of thrift and consignment. Her journey parallels one woman’s progression from small town farm girl, to fashion model, radio and TV personality, corporate executive to author and keynote speaker. Her message is profound and delivered in the most entertaining and thought provoking way. She will bring out the “Diva” in every woman and leave you with a smile on your face and renewed hope. She was a delight. ~ Betty Anderson – Fun Finds and Designs, Inc.

Tracy Dismukes from Collage Consignment

Tracy Dismukes from Collage Consignment in Birmingham, AL continued to spread that warm southern hospitality. Her well appointed fashion stores were stylish and oh so chic. And, her staff catered to every need as customers streamed in to snap up trendy fashions before my presentation started.

Barb reading from Tossed & Found

Jenny Eid, the amazing owner of two intriguing and spacious furniture consignment stores, one in Dunwoody, GA and the other in Alpharetta, GA put on a gala event in each of her fashionable locations.

Atlanta and Finders Keepers welcomes Barb Tobias

And Bonnie Kallenburg and Betsy Johns of Finders Keepers in Decatur, Georgia rolled out the red carpet and made sure every detail was covered as I swept into town. Her store is amazing and her staff was beyond warm and wonderful.

Thank you for making the first leg of my Frugal is Chic Tour such a success!

Betsy Johns and the Diva

Bedbugs Infesting Thrifty Finds

August 3, 2010 by  
Filed under Blogs, Garage Sales

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!

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

June 8, 2010 by  
Filed under Blogs, Garage Sales

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

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