Virginia Gonzales, right, buys merchandise from Gloria Estrada, center, and Richard Lucero, left, at a yard sale for the Positive Expectations Program Aug. 1 at 300 E. Fifth St. Photo by Eric Kluth.
By Helena Rodriguez
It happens every weekend. People drive up to a stranger’s house early in the morning, pry through their personal possessions and offer them only a fraction of the item’s original cost with no regard for sentimental value.
The owners, on the other hand, charge what they want for items, make claims not subject to fair business laws, and in most cases, offer no kinds of warranties.
No one seems to complain much, though. After all, garage sales are mostly about wheeling and dealing. It’s usually a win-win situation in which one person’s trash becomes another person’s treasure.
“The best deal I’ve gotten at a garage sale was buying name brand clothes for my kids for 25 cents each,” said Patricia Stanberry, who doesn’t mind waking up at 7 a.m. on Saturday mornings to search for good deals.
Betty Shaw likes purchasing household goods, such as pillow cases and telephones, for only a fraction of the price she would pay at a retail store.
“Going to garage sales is a hobby,” Shaw said. “It’s like going to a potluck or an Easter egg hunt. It is just the excitement of it. You never know what you are going to find.”
When it comes to garage sales, one saying holds true: “The early bird gets the worm.” Or rather, “The early garage saler gets the best deal.”
Dawn Montoya recently held a garage sale starting at 7 a.m., but said customers began driving by the day before when the newspaper ad ran.
Tracy Scorzafava recalled her garage sale in which early birds even offered to help her finish unloading goods for the sale from a trailer.
During her recent garage sale, Betty Arrickiello, said, “I have set prices, but I will settle for less. I will do whatever it takes to get rid of something.”
Arrickiello said there are two advantages to her staging garage sales twice a year; she gets rid of things she doesn’t want and makes a little extra cash in the process.
Like Arrickiello, many garage sale hosts prefer to go down on the price rather than having to haul their unwanted goods back inside at the end of the sale because they are a lot of work.
It means moving around, cleaning, organizing and pricing items. It means waking up early to be ready for zealous bargain hunters and hours sitting outside.
Another garage sale host, Charolette Deaton, did not want to haul a mini basketball goal back into her garage on a recent Saturday where temperatures were in the 90s. It was originally priced for $10, but she gladly let it go for $6 by mid-morning to a woman with a little boy who said $6 was all the money she had left.
Arrickiello noted that location is a big factor in a garage sale, as is organization and presentation.
“My son had a garage sale on Oak Street and his didn’t have too many people. Here on this street, we get the through-traffic to Wal-Mart,” she said.
As far as presentation of goods, Arrickiello, said, “If you don’t display things right, they won’t sell well. When I go to garage sales, I don’t want to dig into a box for clothing. If it’s out there, I will look at it.”
Appliances, furniture, tools, baby and children’s clothing and baby items are particularly hot sellers at garage sales.
Debbie Yandell, another recent garage sale host, said, “Anytime you have baby items, they sell. Babies outgrow them so fast that people would much rather buy them at a cheaper price.”