As spring bats it’s lashes and the gardens are starting to grow, another event that signals the coming of summer is starting. Garage sales seem to be the new norm, at least where I live. The recession has been hard on people and garage sales appear to have filled a niche’ for both consumers and would-be DIY folks seeking a profit. Garage sales are unique; people feel like it is all right to sell their junk, while other folks feel like it is alright to purchase that junk. I stand by that statement, most garage sales sell nothing but garbage, but sometimes, if you know what you are looking for, and know the true price of a certain item, garage sales, and even better yet, estate sales can be a gold mine. Currently we have an unofficial list of items we are looking for at garage sales: boys clothes 5-6 years old, a bigger bicycle, camping gear, and tools. For whatever reason, clothes for little girls seem to be easier to find so that one is not a problem. And like good Americans we have also purchased a few pieces of crap from our local garage sales: cheaply made plastic toys for the kids, a ball, a free stuffed animal, a warm-but dirty canvas jacket for the cold months, a sun dress, and a sweater. All of these items were priced right around a dollar, so no fortune was lost and some DIY sales person was happy.
For all the crap that can be purchased at a garage sale, sometimes there is a diamond in the rough. I have found some of my best tools at garage sales and estate sales. Last summer at one sale I scored: a heavy-duty plumb bob, bolt cutters, pick axe, a maddocks, small sledge-hammer, screw drivers, pipe wrench, a few saws, and many more random items for twenty dollars. It was probably one of the best twenty dollars I have ever spent. Just this week at an estate sale I got a bunch of heavy-duty drill bits, auger bits, an old-fashioned hand drill, a level, and a few other random tools for only thirty dollars. The auger bits alone are probably worth at least $50-$60. Today while I was planting collard greens and brussel sprouts transplants into the garden, I looked down the street at a neighbors garage sale and saw a brush/wood chipper. I have been looking on Craigslist for a while for a chipper, but have held off buying one because of the three figure price tag . I got this one for ten dollars, and myself and a different neighbor pretty much got it running. I ended up swapping the spark plug out of my lawn mower, cleaning up the carburetor, and giving it new gas and it started for a little while. There is still something not quite right with it, so if any readers out there have some advice for small engine repair and tune-ups, please let me know! These last few examples show the non-crap that can be found at garage sales. Regardless of the quality of items that can be found at garage sales and estate sales, these examples of commerce may be the way of the post oil future. As we enter a world where more and more people are unemployed, where oil prices get more expensive, and people have less money to spend on new products, the garage sale, yard sale, and the estate sale will start to become more socially accepted. Eventually local swap meets and flea markets will be the norm because the global supply chain that feeds Wal-Mart and other chain BIG-BOXES will collapse under its’ own unsustainabililty. So for all the crap and plastic garbage found at garage sales, I will take those any day over Wal-Mart. Keep your cash in the local economy, grow your own food and get use to rough toilet paper! Cheers!