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Rachel Perlow

Yard Sale, Thrift Store, Junk Heap Shopping (Part 1)

563 posts in this topic

Rummage Sale, House Sale, Garage Sale, Yard Sale, whatever you call them*, it's an opportunity for some unique and/or cheap kitchen supplies. Spring is the season for Garage Sales, and there were plenty of them in the towns around me today. I went out in hopes of finding some dead grandma's Le Cruset or cast iron to pick up for a song. That didn't happen, but I got a really huge colander and equally huge stainless steel bowl for $1 each, some Tupperware and a small pyrex mixing bowl with spout for 50 cents.

There were a lot of chafing dishes available, many silver plated, for $5-10, but we don't really entertain that way. And the trick to yard sale shopping is to only buy what you will actually use, not what will end up in your own garage sale one day. Tell us about the bargains you've found, and let's stick to the kitchenware (we also got a Phillipshead screwdriver and some lamp timers, but Gully doesn't want to know about that).

* Glossary

Rummage Sale: Usually a rummage sale is held by a church or other social organization. The members set up tables in the church basement and sell their stuff, usually to the benefit of the organization rather than the individuals.

House or Estate Sale: Usually grandma dies and the kids are selling the house (or no one dies but people are moving to a smaller place and they're selling A LOT of stuff, including furniture). The sale takes place in the house as opposed to the garage or outside, and frequently includes the entire contents of the house, lots of furniture. I think these would be the best places to find good old kitchen stuff, because there's just more stuff in general -- it isn't a "clean out your closet and get rid of the old toys" sale. Estate sales are in ritzier neighborhoods than house sales.

Garage or Yard Sale: A garage sale usually takes place just outside of (the driveway) or in the garage. Lots of old toys, books and clothes. Some kitchenware, but mostly just the old junk, like mismatched plates and glasses. But sometimes you can get the used once bread machine or ice cream maker. Make sure to get directions on how to use the equipment if it doesn't come with the old manuals!

Car Boot Sale: Could someone define this one for me? I've heard of it on BBC-America, but it sounds to me like shady dealings out of the trunk of a car.

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Don't forget the swap meet! Ours takes place at the Skyvew Drive-In (one of a handful remaining from the Fifties) down the street from me. It's a well-organized event with over a hundred vendors, ranging from the one-timers to the pros. Beyond the usual beat-up aluminum saucepans that only a college freshman would buy, there are tons of other things for grabs. My favorite stall there is the guy who sells imports from Italy. He has no overhead, just nominal rent once a week at the Skyview.

His products are stellar, and they're reasonably priced. Win-win.

I don't believe claims of "estate" sales, because people are onto that marketing lingo and aren't usually being honest about it.

We were poor newlyweds, and big-time yard salers. All week we saw signs "MEGA TURBO YARDSALE! THIS SUNDAY!" Well, we skeedaddled our butts out there first thing in the morning. We were greeted with broken ashtrays, old bowling trophies, stained polyester clothing that hadn't been washed...it was the grossest collection of self-justifying bachelorhood imaginable.

Now, in our family lexicon, "Megaturbo" means anything that's a piece of crap. Or especially an assemblage of utterly disgusting and useless items.

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The cast iron pan that I use every day of my life was bought at a tag sale for $1.00. I think I got it 15 years ago. I got the vintage fabric for our dining room chairs at a tag sale in our neighborhood. The fabric was in a box marked "Grandma" and they were originally curtains. I washed them, cut them up and stapled them to the bottoms of the old pads- very cool and cheap! At a recent estate sale I got a box of silverwear, maybe 75 pieces for $2.00. They were mismatched but I like that type of thing and of excellent quality. Now that it's finally nice here in CT we'll be having more tag/estate sales and I'm eager to see what I can find.


Melissa

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A car boot sale is essentially a multi-family yard sale that's someplace else (like a nearby parking lot). Per husband, "people don't sell stuff out of their yards - they take it to a car boot sale." Apparently it can sometimes be stuff that's fallen off the back of a truck, but it's not a given.


"Tea and cake or death! Tea and cake or death! Little Red Cookbook! Little Red Cookbook!" --Eddie Izzard

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Here in New England, what you call a Garage Sale or a Yard Sale is often called a Tag Sale. Which can be unfortunate in rare instances. I used to drive past a pet cemetery near Kent, CT, and one spring weekend the owners, whose house was on site, were clearing out and having a Tag Sale. But they put the sign for said sale on the sign for the pet cemetery. So it read:

BALMORAL

Pet Cemetery

TAG SALE

Right. What else would they do with them?

Anyway, I have a gorgeously patina'd Griswold #10 skillet that I got for a buck, and a Donvier hand-crank ice-cream maker that I paid all of 25¢ for. If I follow the directions for the ice cream maker, it's worthless, but through experimentation I've figured out how to make decent 'scream with it.

Edited: because some idiot called in the middle of my post and I couldn't get away & made mistakes the first time around. :angry:


Edited by GG Mora (log)

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A car boot sale is essentially a multi-family yard sale that's someplace else (like a nearby parking lot). Per husband, "people don't sell stuff out of their yards - they take it to a car boot sale." Apparently it can sometimes be stuff that's fallen off the back of a truck, but it's not a given.

The ones I've seen are mostly held in open fields. They are called car boot sales because the items are transported in - and sold from - the boot of one's car, i.e. what we in this country call the trunk.

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When my other half and I were young and completely ignorant... we came across an entire set of Le Crusset at least nine bottom peices (blue) with lids in like new condition. We had no idea what a steal they were at $35.00 FOR ALL! The woman told us they were good... little did we know... we missed out on the deal of a lifetime. Never again.

Since then I've become much more educated on what to look for. Short of a culinary blow torch, I've found many of my kitchen equipement, utensils, and appliances at garage sales, including a professional Kitchen Aid for $50 like new from a young couple who decided to get out of the restaurant business because of their children, they also had gourmet coffees... Sometimes they just don't make them like they used to.

Sometimes people are getting married and getting rid of stuff and sometimes getting divorced, still having to get rid of stuff that's of high quality and incredibly less expensive than in the stores.

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Always on the look out for cast iron or le cruset...

My fave, the big LC dutch oven which has dispensed at least a medium sized herds worth of short ribs, approximately 100 lamb daubes, 200 pots of various bean dishes and cassuolets, countless messes of greens (you pick one), and lots of other things that can be crammed into its well worn insides. Found fifteen years ago at a swap meet in Pearisburg, Virginia... Also, you know you can get replacement knobs for those pots in need...

Also, and especially in areas with a tradition of butchering, I am always swerving to a stop or lurching across medians in hopes of finding nice carbon steel knives... It's amazing what a good bladesmith can do with what appears to be a worthless knife...

Always looking for a yard sale...


Adam

Chef - Food / Wine / Travel Consultant - Writer

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Vade retro, Satana! I'm suppopsed to be foodblogging - I probably shouldn't be looking at this thread, let alone posting to it with pictures! But what can I do? My whole house is done in '90s-Garage-Sale, and my kitchen especially has benefited. So have the kitchens of my friends, when a great find duplicates something I already own. In the latter category the highlights would be a virtually new Cuisinart with all parts and blades, for a friend who was tiured of lugging hers back and forth between beach and city; for the same friend, the large Magnalite Oval Roaster.

My garage sale season (around here they use yard, tag and garage interchangeably) began a week ago. Here's last week's haul:

i6015.jpg

I figure you can't ever have too many good balloon whisks, rubber spatulas, spreaders etc. Or measuriing spoons, until such time as the world comes to its senses and rewrites the whole history of cookery (at no charge to the owners of the books!) to measure by weight. It doesn't really show in the picture (I was in a hurry 'cos I feel guilty), but the bowl on the right is the rare RED Pyrex bowl - rather faded, but that's another thing you can never have too many of. Also, I'm intrigued by the little black thingy - but I'm not going to stop to mess with it now. This woman also had many many boxes of cookbooks; tragically, however, only one that I actually wanted. How that can be... I don't know, but there it is.

In the interests of time I'm not going to do the full inventory, but here are a couple of highlights from previous seasons:

i6013.jpg

Silver plate; set complete.

i6014.jpg

(Detail showing knife)

Bought at a so-called estate sale; I sweated it out for three days because I didn't want to pay $75. Toward the end of the third day I got it for $25.

i6017.jpg

Majolica tureen.

i6016.jpg

I still haven't quite decided whether this is neat or gaudy or both, but I don't care - I love it, especially for serving cold summer soups. And check out the spoon:

i6018.jpg

Who could resist?

I could spend the rest of the day on this. I mustn't. I won't. Back to bloggery....

EDIT because I'd screwed up the picture placement.


Edited by balmagowry (log)

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In France the word's vide grenier or brocante.

broc23.JPGbroc22.JPG

Our cheese plate's a brocante find.

We thought he was saying 10 euros per piece but when we realized he meant the whole set, we were like scrounging for spare change!

broc1.JPG

Our greatest ever brocante find.

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Best thing that I ever found was an old clever from the Butcher trade. Can't find one today. Bead blasted fixed the handle and sharpened. $2.00. It's 4 inches high,

6.5 inches long and 3/16 thick weighs in at about 2-3 lb.. Bring on the chicken and the ribs.


Bruce Frigard

Quality control Taster, Château D'Eau Winery

"Free time is the engine of ingenuity, creativity and innovation"

111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321

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I can't count the number of cookbooks I've gotten at garage sales, but my favorite find is a Silver Pine China serving platter. I serve holiday turkey, ham, etc. on it and it's beautiful.


Stop Family Violence

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This is from about 7 years ago, when we were living in Port Washington, NY: A set of two silver (I don't know if it's plate or solid, I'm guessing plate) serving bowls. They are oval, one has feet the other w/out feet and divided. I use the divided one as a nut bowl. Put whole nuts in one side, place nut cracker & picks nearby, shells go in the other side.

Bought for $2, quite tarnished. Polished up quite nicely. Here, let me dig it out to show you...

i6031.jpg

i6032.jpg

Uh oh, looks like it needs some polishing, I haven't served nuts in shell in a while (The bottom of the divided dish is as shiny as the inside of the footed dish, as I stored them nested). :wink:

Replacements.com would probably list this for around $70, not bad for $2 and some silver polish.

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I love finding stuff that qualifies as handmade wooden or iron or steel antiques. It's becoming 'Mama's Hunting Season' as my darling refers to it up here. Fortunately we have genuine estate and 'clearing out for the smaller house'. I also dive into old linens, old cookbooks, and real nice crystal.....sigh

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Many years ago, I found a small teak pepper mill at a flea market that I managed to get for around 20 cents! That little mill is hands-down the best bargain ever. It must have been made in the early 1960's and it is still going strong today. It grinds perfectly, not too large, not too small. I'm one happy camper!

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I know what you mean. I constantly look out for the enamel dishpans all of our grams had for dough-rising. And wooden bowls, especially if they've been repaired with some brads and a strap of steel. Be still my heart!

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Over the years, I've found many, many items:

A White Mountain electric ice cream freezer, $15

A Bron Mandoline for $0.50. The blades were in backward (how'd they do that?) and it was a little rusted. I turned the blades around and polished it up, and sold it on eBay for $60, and then bought a brand new one for $99 on eBay with both safety slicing guards.

I saw a man in line to check out with a beautiful $90 German chef's knife. I asked him what the price was, he said $8. I offered him an extra $12, he took it!

A Calphalon stock pot, new in box, apprx. 16 quarts, $6 with lid.

Chemex coffee pot, $1 (with 200 filters)

Kitchenaid mixer $75. Almost all accessories at various other sales for pennies on the dollar.

Beautiful set of china for 8 - $6!

Le Crueset sauce pan and lid, under $8

Vintage Kitchenaid mixer with glass bowl, metal meat grinder, beaters, citrus juicer parts. Sold the bowl on Ebay for $31, beaters for $10. The grinder should bring ~ $25 to 35, but I may keep it and sell my newer plastic grinder. Oh, I paid $3 for the whole box.

And, almost a room full of everything from things like two other ice cream makers, Chinese hot pot, North Africian couscous maker, two electric woks (One stainless in the box, the other non-stick), 20 of the Time Life series for $10, another 100 or so cookbooks over the years.

A few pieces of Portmeirion Botanic Garden, one piece of Emile Henry.

Perhaps 5 Cuisinart food processors. I part them out on eBay.

I'll add more later, but my favorite buy was the dual oven, current model Maytag that was a perfect replacement for the 36 year old GE that was mostly non working. I paid $50 for it, and $37 for a new replacement oven handle that was dented when it was removed.

It's time for a garage sale. :wacko:


Carpe Carp: Seize that fish!

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Oh, man, I love Portmeirion! It is so luscious-looking. This will sound kind of dumb, but my favorite purchase was $2.75 for a 1950's Mirro French Frier, just like my mom and I used to use. It was virtually new in the box. All I have to do is get it out to make fries, and it just gets to me.

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Around Toledo, the nicer estate sales are handled by a few small liquidators. Most of them have realistic pricing, will take checks and credit cards, and are fairly well organized. However, sometimes that isn't true.

Also, estate sales put on by greedy surviving relatives are usually highly overpriced, and three days later the house is still full of grandma's useless junk and years of cheap Christmas decorations.

At large sales, the local used furniture dealers, eBay dealers, and rabid collectors line up long before the opening hour. You sign a signup sheet, and then can go sit in your car and drink coffee and BS with other collectors. You go back to the door and line up 20 minutes before opening, and someone calls out the sign-up numbers. Several people are let in at opening time, and then 2 to 4 people are let in when 2 to 4 people leave. The true prizes are sold early. It can be a long wait if you aren't there at 6, 7, or 5 AM.

I've done this a few times, and it's a different world. At a sale with some true collectables, dealers will spend the night in their campers in order to be first in line. I saw one fist fight, and the police called twice. :shock:

Don't break in line. :raz:


Edited by Sam Iam (log)

Carpe Carp: Seize that fish!

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Like I said Sam Iam, Mama's hunting season! Stalking the very cheap but endangered Wedgewood!! Ah, the sport of it all...

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We had a 89th birthday party yesterday for my MIL. About 40 people. The item most complimented was my small Wedgewood Napoleon's Ivy china creamer by the caterer's coffee urn.

About $1, I recall.


Edited by Sam Iam (log)

Carpe Carp: Seize that fish!

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My favorite find came from a flea market...a big box of old Gourmet Magazines from the 40s and 50s for $5.00. My set is almost complete to the present, stored in library magazine holders in a tall book shelf custom made to hold them.

Or they would be, if I had my stuff out of storage.

Sigh.


Ruth Dondanville aka "ruthcooks"

“Are you making a statement, or are you making dinner?” Mario Batali

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