Friday, June 04, 2010

Thrift Classification: The difference between estate sales, yard sales, flea markets and digging around behind the big Goodwill in Lincoln Heights

Estate Sales: The belongings of the aged are redistributed into the community. Every object in the house has a price tag on it, situated in pretty much the same way it had been when they lived there, for 50 or 80 or however many years. You pay one of the family members in the living room -- where they will most likely be sitting on the couch watching TV behind a card table full of costume jewelry. There’s a reassuring kind of constant at these events: jars of washers in the garage, enameled saucepans in the cupboards, housecoats in the closet.

Yard Sales: Beware of tarps piled high with baby stuff. Drive on by. That sale will feature zero items from before 2002 and will be boring and sparse. A tip, no matter what kind of thrifting you’re doing: Show the cash. Here’s how it’s done: If I want to buy a stack of Tepco restaurantware cups and saucers and I’m given a price of $20 I will ask if the seller will take $10, then flash $14 when they balk -- ‘cause they will, you’re asking for a big discount. Show the cash. They will take it. Another thing is to have small bills. If you’ve talked somebody down on the price, don’t then proceed to give them a big ol’ bill to break, so they can see you could have paid the full price.

Flea Markets: Best in off-the-beaten path areas. Some of the more interesting stuff can be found in towns like Palmdale, South Lake Tahoe, Yucca Valley, etc. Places where stylists don’t go (that often). The Rose Bowl is cool and all, but I don’t like the pre-sorted, boutique-y aspect of the primo flea markets. I like junk-for-cheap that might surprise me. Pretty much sums up the whole endeavor.

Church Rummage Sales: Get there in the waning moments when everything you can stuff into a grocery bag is a dollar. There’s no point in getting to a church rummage sale early, it’s just the same crap. I’m not going to take a chance on this BanLon scooter dress for $6 early in the day. I’m going to wait till the end, stuff it in a grocery bag and pay .08 cents, then who cares if it doesn’t fit?

Digging Around Behind Goodwill in Lincoln Heights: People do this all the time. Every time I drive by people are out there, digging around. What do they find? Who knows? It’s a real thing. There’s no organization, no bins or anything. Goodwill just dumps stuff out on the pavement to be sifted through. What gets left behind is basically trash, littered scraps of shattered plastic, cloth and raw, just dirt… eaten-out-of to-go containers and stuff like that.

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