Bargains are in my blood. Generations of Porters and Bentleys have haggled over pennies at flea markets and yard sales. My own parents bought freshly ironed and starched dresses for their baby girl (me) from garage sales in Highland Park, near where Southern Methodist University (SMU) is located. Cost: 25-50 cents apiece!
I conditioned my kids from an early age to spend Friday mornings driving around town, occasionally venturing into neighboring cities for hidden treasure.
Armed with Cheerios® and Capri Sun®, they quickly learned how to stretch a dollar—their allotted amount—into something special. The boys usually bought action guys (their term for boy dolls) or balls of any kind, while Molly spent her money on books or stuffed animals. We uncovered fabulous finds, some of which are still in our lives.
In today’s post, I get to share a few of my “Favorite Finds” with you. Sorry, gang, but no way could I limit this to just one! Here’s my short list:
• A yellow stepladder splattered with paint. I bought this from my friend Sarah Walker for $2.00. Today it houses candles and a basket filled with hand towels in our guest bathroom.
• Baby-Sitter Club® books. For $5.00 my daughter Molly enjoyed hours upon hours of fun, wholesome reading material.
• Black leather pants. They looked like they’d never been worn. It costs me more to send them to the cleaners than it did to purchase them! Price: $2.00. No kidding! I didn’t even negotiate. Though I rarely wear them in Dallas, they’re a godsend on ski trips.
• A car bed. The toddler-sized homemade racecar lasted through both of our boys, helping them make the transition from crib to bed. Cost: $25.00. We used it for more than three years, then sold it at our own yard sale for $15.00!
• A Coca-Cola® thermometer. I paid the “full price” of 50 cents and gave the vintage thermometer to my sister-in-law who collects all things Coca-Cola®. Imagine my surprise when I found the identical item—priced at $50.00—in an antique store.
• A short wood shelf. Though it’s final coat is navy blue, light sanding revealed myriad colors underneath. All this $5.00 treasure took was a little sanding, then a wipe clean to make it suitable for our main hallway of our rustic, hill country-style home. (Hint: A rustic or shabby-chic decorating style makes it easy to incorporate garage sale and flea market finds.)
• A piano keyboard. For $50.00, my daughter has been able to practice piano for going on three years. Would you believe the organized owners still had the operations manual, and the price included a portable stand?
• My all-time favorite: A Onesie® sleeper that looked like a tuxedo. We dressed both boys in it for their baby dedications at church. Both times, the outfit—inhabited by squirming, smiling baby boys—elicited grins and chuckles from church congregations.
At Charlie’s dedication, our pastor briefly “interviewed” us about the significance of our role as parents and the importance of that day. To my surprise he commented on the outfit, “This is certainly a special outfit. What can you tell me about it?” Like a deer in headlights, I froze—unable to come up with anything but the truth. “I bought it at a garage sale for a quarter,” I blurted out. The congregation roared. So much for coming off as a Spiritual Giant—ready to lead her young son into deep scriptural truths. Instead, I showed my true nature: Finder of a Good Deal!
Perhaps bargains are in your blood as they are mine. You detest paying retail—even if the item is on sale. Instead, we smart-shopping, bargain-hunting deal-finders resist the urge, letting somebody else buy it and break it in. Then we can swoop in and buy it at their garage sale the next season.
OK, now it’s your turn. What’s the all-time best bargain you found at a flea market, garage, yard, estate or tag sale, or a resale shop? Brag away!