Monday, May 13, 2013

I brake for yard sales, junk in the road, flea markets, estate sales and auctions

How far would you go to find that special vintage something?

We had our first fire of the season last night.  A cool and chilly wet day ... lead to a cold afternoon ... which lead to plans for a hearty dinner of chicken cacciatore, sitting al fresco on the lounge room floor in front of a roaring fire.

On the way home from collecting my littlest man in the afternoon rain, I spied a metre high pile of logs on a footpath, next some other large household items, ready for the local council "large item and garden refuse" collection in our neighbourhood this week.  Through the rainy drizzle and the windscreen wiper's slosh, I could see neatly cut and stacked, perfectly round and even length logs.  Perfect free firewood, I thought.

So I stopped, but first looking over my shoulder to see if anyone I knew saw me!  It turned out to be treated pine garden edging - which gives off noxious gases when burnt - so this one was not for me!  But that's what happens with the 'finding' - you win some and lots of times you come away empty handed if it's just not right for you.  Which is actually half the fun of finding something that does in fact really work for you!

But do you dare?  Stop for 'side of the road' rubbish and garage sales? 

Several years ago, a friend who was building and wanted 'old bricks' for a feature wall in the garden, had spent several months dealing with recycled building material suppliers to source beautiful second hand bricks with a patina.  

Driving one day, they saw a hundred year old factory wall being torn down, looked at each other, then decided to go for it!  They were cheeky enough to stop and ask what was happening to the bricks?  The site manager said as long as they took them away that day the bricks were theirs!  A couple of hours later they had the majority of the bricks they needed for the cost of the hire of the trailer!

I have become braver now that I know I am not alone: Teri Hatcher was caught last year at a local garage sale, and she now holds her own annual celebrity Garage Sales for charity.  And of course, Lara Spencer, anchor on Good Morning America, released her book last year: I Brake for Yard Sales: And Flea Markets, Thrift Shops, Auctions and the Occasional Dumpster.

My list includes: yard / garage sales / le vide grenier (attic sales in France), council pickups, flea markets here and in Paris, estate sales and auctions.  But I do draw the line at dumpsters.  

So tell me, how far would you go to find that special vintage something?



  1. Hi Jennifer! I'm really enjoying your blog, and it's exciting to know I now have a blog friend in Australia. I have zero shame when it comes to stopping by the side of the road for the perfect find. I've found great vintage things curb-side, including a mid century modern coffee table and a shaker style rocking chair. One man's trash is another man's treasure! (as long as you're a wee bit selective about it)

    1. Well you know I love reading yours ... so we are the equivalent of the blog world 'mutual appreciation society'! Those finds sound fab! I've found many a cane / seagrass chair - these can be more expensive to fix if something structural has broken - so now I check but have to leave them. I have found two in excellent condition, painted white they are so pretty. Being selective is the key ... you don't want to take on someone else's project / problem!
      Jen x


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