Can’t get enough of Snag? Soon you can find us on Facebook. We’re always looking for new ways to connect with our readers and we’re excited to announce the Snag Facebook page will launch Tuesday, May 28, 2013. Follow us to get daily links to our posts as well as inspiration, photos, tips and other exclusive content. We’re also hoping you’ll stop by and share your favorite finds, stories, shopping spots and tips with us and other Snag readers. See you on Facebook!
A few weeks ago Angela and I drove around a small town having its citywide garage sales. It was our first time in this particular town so our adrenaline was flowing. At one of the last sales we hit I spied this small typewriter with original case. Luckily we made a second pass around the sale or we would have missed out on this adorable Skyriter Smith-Corona typewriter for $2.00. Even though it was filthy I was bringing it home.
So remember this garage sale tip: Always make a few passes through a sale. If it is a decent sale, there is probably something you passed by and didn’t notice. I will put money on this!
Last night I began cleaning the grime off. I used just a drop of dish soap in a bowl of water. I only lightly dampened my towel and began scrubbing. It didn’t take long for me to start getting excited with it’s outcome!
And finally the finished product!
In my research online I have found that this Smith-Corona Skyriter was produced in 1950. It seems that it may have been designed for easy travel for passengers taking planes. It has a smaller size, shape and case to easily fit under seats during the flight. I noticed right away when I picked it up at the sale how portable it was. I found this information along with great images of Smith-Corona and other brands of antique and vintage typewriters here.
Now the fun is going to start, because I have to start cleaning the inside. I can already tell this is going to be time consuming, but this great little typewriter is worth the work!
Warning: this post is long and makes us look crazy. I warn you, this list is intense and not for everyone. We’re normal, mostly.
All three of us have been to a ridiculous amount of garage sales. It’s not unusual for us to go to twenty in a day, forty in a week. Garage sales are where we find some of our best treasures at the cheapest prices, meet fun and quirky people, and get our daily amounts of vitamin D after a long cold winter. While there is a fair amount of luck involved, we have things down to a fine art that increases our chances of finding quality vintage items.
1. Prepare before. There’s not a week during the season when Tammy doesn’t shoot us an email of a sale she’s found on Craigslist. I’m signed up for so many tag sales I can’t remember, and we also rely on the good ol’ newspaper. Before we set out on Saturday, we frantically text/email back and forth to decide the best plan of action. We print maps for citywide sales (a favorite), write down addresses and decide a meeting time.
2. Narrow down your search. On Thursdays and Fridays I look for toddler things, on Saturday I’m out for vintage blood. There are certain clues we look for in finding the good sales. Here’s a roundup of our favorite tactics.
• Sale listing: The best sales aren’t the ones that scream “ANTIQUES!” a million times. No, the best ones are sales that discretely whisper “antiques” so only a few people catch on. Look for listings that mention whole-house sales, estate sales, retirement sales, and items that imply grandparents downsizing.
• Neighborhood sales: Some neighborhoods offer a bounty of vintage treasures. Look for older neighborhoods. If you’re in a small town, the local library and Main Street typically have better vintage sales. Sure, there are some great pockets of sales in newer developments, but it will be a lot harder to find them. Our favorites are developments built in the 1900s through 1960s. Sometimes you even get lucky and hit sales of the original home owners.
• Individual sales: Not going to lie, we’ve all looked on the County Assessor’s website to see what age the house is and clues about the person who lives there. If checking saves a half hour of driving time it’s worth it. I’m telling you, we’re hardcore.
• Citywide sales: YES. Jackpot. In our area, there are these glorious events called city-wide sales. All the garage sales in a small town are organized to be on one day. These are great because there are so many sales starting at different times, all the bargain hunters are dispersed across an entire city rather than a few sales.
3. Decide on a plan of action. So you’ve prepped the day before and know where you want to go. Now what?
• Start early. If we said we walked out of our house around 10am, we’d be lying. Yes, you can find things at this time. No, you probably won’t find the best things at this time. We’ve already been there. Maybe twice. Typically sales start in our region at about 8am, so we’re at our location at 7am and sometimes earlier. Be nice and ask if it’s ok to browse earlier than their startup time, most times we get in, and be appreciative of their kindness.
• Pack for a full morning. If you’re planning a long day of garagin’, bring a big vehicle with packing supplies. And remember, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Some of us (me mainly) get a bit snarky when we haven’t had enough to eat.
• Make a list. Have a list either written down or committed to memory of things you need to find. This isn’t so necessary, but I have dimensions of picture frames I need to find, lamps that need shades, and some volumes of Ford Times that are eluding me (more on that later). Having everything fresh in your mind is a good idea.
• Bring money. As Tammy’s grandma says, “Have a pocket full of change!” Don’t bring a $100 bill and expect change, rather, bring ones and fives.
We’ll delve into some finer points of garage-saling soon and will cover in detail a day of us going garagin’. This post would be unwieldy if we covered everything. Are there some general questions you have but don’t see answers to so far? Let us know! In the meantime, enjoy this midcentury house we found while driving around to sales.
As you may recall, last week I found this amazing Adrian Pearsall sofa.
Immediately my head began filling with ideas about how I could change around my living room to accommodate this gorgeous beast. I knew that most of my current furniture would have to go—I’ve talked my parents into rehoming the sofa should I someday find a home with copious sofa requirements—but I would need a few things to replace it. Number one (and technically two) on my list—a matching pair of upholstered side chairs. And, of course, what were the first things I spotted in a tag sale listing this past weekend? You guessed it, chairs.
Right there in the photos for the sale were the perfect pair. With them weighing heavily on my mind, the Snag team lined up at the house a little over an hour before the sale was to begin. We had seen the photos and guessed everything we were after would be in the basement and had stopped by earlier to peak through the windows and located the basement door. We were set to conquer. An hour later I was rushing down the basements steps where I found them—for just $4 each!
They’re similar to the chair in my New Year’s Finds List (seriously, what’s going to be left for me to find this year?). I love the curvy upholstered forms resting on wooden frames—it’s the perfect balance of hard and soft. They feel more substantial than a wooden arm chair, but not heavy like a big easy chair. I don’t believe these are designer pieces, probably Kroehler or the like, but the maker’s tags have all been removed.
I wouldn’t exactly say these were severely underpriced. They’re in much worse shape than these pictures can convey. They’re musty, the upholstery is stained and the rubber strapping that supports the seats has all but disintegrated. I don’t think this is the original fabric, either. But I still love the shape and I will have them rebuilt and reupholstered to go with the rest of my new living room furniture.
While it is fun to reimagine old furniture with new upholstery, finding the right fabric—without cashing in a retirement account—can be a pickle. Not so long ago Angela and I used to frequent a fabric store specializing in end-runs of high-end fabrics. The shop closed and we lament those lost bargains. I was lucky enough to find an olive green tweed for the sofa on clearance at a local fabric store. For these chairs, I’m looking for something with a little heavier texture. Right now I’m thinking something similar to this classic woven fabric from Knoll Textile. It’s not terribly expensive to begin with, but I’ll still search for some remnants from a reseller.
So, that’s two areas of the room anyway. The last frontier is the area currently occupied by my 1950s purple armchair. I’ve been toying with the idea of replacing it for awhile and a few weeks ago I stumbled upon this suitable predecessor at a thrift store for about $30.
This Flexsteel chair is a little saggy and way too gold at the moment, but it has great bones. It’s comfy and takes about a third less floor space than my current chair, which will be critical when that behemoth couch starts gobbling up square footage in my living room. I’m a little unsure what I want to cover this with. I had hoped to use the fabric from the couch, but sadly I fear it is too worn. I like the idea of an orange chair though, so perhaps this archival fabric from Knoll Textile will do the trick.
We’ll see, the fabric samples are coming in the mail tomorrow. I’d love to know your thoughts on the matter. Any suggestions? The whole process is exciting and exhausting at the same time. But, in the end, there are worse problems one could have than trying to figure out which amazing fabric to put on four amazing pieces of furniture. I’ll keep you posted on the progress of each piece as well as the entire room.
So I woke up yesterday morning wishing there was a sale to go to. It was a good thing I decided to check Craigslist, because there was the sale I was looking for. The ad read, “75% off estate sale”. I’m usually a first day of the sale type of gal, but I was up for anything! The sale opened at 10am and my four-year old son and I pulled up right as the doors were opened. I was surprised to see there were at least ten people lined up outside the front door.
The house to my surprise was still full of items. On the way to the basement I was greeted by this wonderful light! Chills.
What was going to be in this basement? Well, lots—just not much for us. We did pick up a few small things but my favorite finds where in with a bunch of wrapping paper—three rolls of vintage wallpaper. I paid $0.30 for all of them.
The shiny gold foil with mushrooms is my favorite…
This really wild pattern…
And this crazy fruit pattern. Could you imagine this on your kitchen walls? Not me!
We found more than I was expecting and the workers were extremely friendly, making it fun for my son. They told me that the owner of the house had told them if there were children interested in things to just let them have it. Well my son walked around the house with a big smile on his face. I don’t expect for things to be given to my son but I told them thank you for making it such a great experience for him.
After we checked out I walked by this old statue in the front yard and decided to go back and ask if it was for sale. The lady said she hadn’t thought about selling it, but guessed she could sell it for $10.00. She insisted I would have a hard time lifting it and made me go out and lift it before I gave her the money for it. I do agree, it was crazy heavy, but if I want something, of course I will be able to lift it. She told me it had been sitting in that spot for at least thirty years. Now she’s looking adorable in my mother’s flowers.
It is always fun to go exploring!