July 29, 2022
GARAGE SALE LOGS: Friends of the Garage Sale
When you’ve been going to garage sales for as long as we have, certain faces become familiar. You meet the same researchers over and over again, and you get to know a few of them quite well. Like us, they spend their weekends poking around in the wreckage and wreckage of other people’s lives. It’s not that we’ve all really become friends in the classic sense of the word; in fact, we rarely see each other outside the garage sale circuit. However, as our interests are often similar, we have forged quite strong ties over the years. Some, who when you pass them on a rainy morning, greet you enthusiastically, and others just nod shyly, then silently shake their heads to warn you to get away from that gold bar you’re eyeing. They’re quick to ask for advice when trying to figure out whether to buy something they’re unsure about, and they’ll then gladly share their knowledge with you when you’re unsure yourself. These are the people who are happy to lend a truck or a sturdy back to help you get that heavy, oversized house. They are also the people we call when we notice something they might be interested in – and the people who call us for the same reason.
We found a seven-piece set of 1960s “Thomasville” bedroom furniture for our granddaughter after we were alerted to it by one of the band members – more on that another time. Another member of the group lent his truck and his muscles and helped us bring everything home. He breeds Golden Retrievers, and we told him about the 20 crates of dog food we discovered in a garage in Freehold. Sure, it was a few months past the expiration date, but it was only $10 for it all.
We talked to the guy who recreated an old fashioned bar room in his basement a few elephant head beer taps and gave him an easy talking 1920’s door that we found in an old barn. Over the years we have come across many other things that he plans to use in his bar. He actually got the idea for the whole project when other members of the circle called him about some antique bar tables and chairs and one of those slot machines with the big round dial in front, like in the saloons of old cowboy movies. .
And then there’s the couple who love Mad magazines; we turned them into a sale where there were over 100 first issues. A week later they told us about a place where the guy had a lot of old frames in a shed. We bought them all for pennies each, outfitted them with family photos, and now they cover a lot of the wall space in our house.
We told people about carnival leather and glass upholstered furniture, American art pottery and classic wooden archery sets. After a friend was alerted to a porch sale in Eatontown, we picked up an excellent 1870s Long Branch card for just a few bucks.
A cousin from New York told us that she started collecting old Swiss disc-type music boxes and asked us to look for them on our travels, especially those with the name “Thorens”. We had never heard the name and didn’t even know what a disc type music box was, but we got the word out among our small group of friends at the garage sale, and within weeks we were we received two calls. The first turned out to be a false lead; it was just a small type of cylinder from the 1960s – really just a children’s toy that played “Jack and Jill”. The second was exactly what she was looking for, so we sent her a picture of it. It was about the size of a small cigar box, and it was made of dark brown wood and was well built with tightly joined corners. All scratched and faded and not very interesting to look at, it was just an old box. But when we opened it, we saw a beautifully crafted musical movement with an elaborate winding mechanism that was in excellent working order and played perfectly. It was clearly marked “Thorens” as were the five additional discs stored in their own special compartment. When she heard the price of only $20, she said, “Oh my God. Buy it for me. I’ll be right there!” She said the box alone was worth a few hundred dollars and the five discs were worth at least $50 more. She took the train out of town to pick it up that afternoon there, and with a $20 bill to pay for the music box, she handed us a nice bottle of Swiss ‘Pino Noir’ as a reward for our diligence, and gave us another to pass on to the friend who told us where to find the music box in the first place. That bottle of wine was absolutely delicious and worth more than double what we paid for the music box. It seems that somehow, for us, shopping at garage sales really pays off.