My Uncle Jack, God rest his soul, had a saying that has become a mainstay in our family. When my Aunt Etta would go on a shopping trip and come home with her bags, she would explain to Jack what she bought was discounted on sale, to which he would respond, "Etta, we can't afford to save money." Ed has since taken up the mantle of keeping Uncle Jack's phrase going. But recently, he says it less and less because I have discovered selling on Ebay. Ed, despite being skeptical at first about what people will buy on Ebay, likes making a profit and the whole escapade of the ZhuZhu pets (another story to be saved for a later day) changed his outlook. Of course, to sell on Ebay, one must have items to list. And that, my dear friends, is what I have to confess today - I am totally hooked on finding items that I pay pennies for to resell or keep it for myself.
It all started with junk shops when I was a teenager. I still own a marvelous old rocking chair that I bought for $5 at a little junk store about 2 blocks from my childhood home the summer before I left for my freshman year at college. I painted it an Irish kelly green and it has traveled with me throughout my adult life. The green paint has long been stripped, its beautiful wood once more restored. That rocking chair has rocked my three babies to sleep and grandbabies, too. The veneer on the curved seat needs some repair and it creaks like something that ancient should when rocked, but I love that old rocker and cannot part with it. Little did I know when I first saw that dusty old chair and shelled out my hard earned five bucks that I had started a life-long treasure hunt.
Although I still love junk stores, I found something even better (and cheaper) for my treasure-seeking soul - YARD SALES. Oh, sweet bliss, yard sales. There is nothing quite like the rapid beating of my heart in seeing an item that I want and then asking the owner if they will take less. Ed has been known to slink away as if he is not connected to me in any fashion when I bargain over a 50 cent item. He cannot understand the art of negotiation that drives me to ask, "Will you take a quarter for that?" If the item is a quarter, I offer 10 cents. I drive a hard bargain. And I usually get my way. You wouldn't believe the items with which I have decorated my home that came straight from somebody's driveway or garage. Lovely pictures, including a couple of Thomas Kincaid Collector's Club framed prints ($4), a huge print for the dining room that I had priced at about $300, double matted, wonderful frame ($10), Halloween, Easter and Christmas decorations, a beautiful white metal bedside table with glass tabletop ($10), decorative bowls worth $16 to $40 ($2 to $4 each), vintage blow-mold 1960's tabletop Santa worth about $20 (50 cents), vintage blow-mold Halloween cat on jack-o-lantern ($1), Yankee Candle products, books, movies, games, puzzles...... I could go on and on.
With the recent weight loss, I have been drawn back to the second-hand shops, particularly Good Will. I can find transition clothes, some with the tags still on them, to tide me over till I reach my final goal weight. I simply can't afford to replace my wardrobe every few months. But clothes are not the only thing Good Will sells. They have housewares and decorative items, too. It is a gigantic year round yard sale, only air conditioned or heated and open on rainy days, everyday and the merchandise turns over almost every week. A treasure hunter's heaven. Just last Friday I discovered a Good Will on the ritzy side of the city. Be still my heart! Yesterday, less than a week later, I went back and I hit paydirt! A Lenox china Santa Claus teapot, not a scratch on it, original price tag of $58 still attached, for $12. Anything comparable on Ebay sells for about $60. A Noble Excellence (Napa Valley pattern) cracker server bowl for $5. On Replacements.com it sells for $60! Can you stand it? There were other items I had to leave there....my budget only allows for so much frivolity. The good news is that every Tuesday is Senior Citizens Day and I can get a 25% discount! I have never been so happy to be over 55.
Two of my sisters and I have a tradition: we meet once a year for a long weekend in the summer which includes the exchanging of Christmas gifts. But, aha, these are not just ordinary Christmas gifts, oh, no. These must be purchased either at giant discounts from a store or must come from a thrift store or, more likely than not, a yard sale. We slowly unwrap our gifts one at a time, oohing and aahhing over the reveal and then the giver has to tell what the purchase price was. The cheaper the price, the greater the treasure, the bigger the accolades. We practically swoon over the cheapness! We are the Queens of Cheap! What a hoot we have! We then spend the whole entire next year going to yard sales and thrift stores hunting for cheap gifts of value (is that an oxymoron?) for each other. It is the most fun when I can score an item that I know my sisters will love.
So in the spirit of Christmas in July, as well as the quickly approaching joyous summer Noel celebration with my sisters, I wish you all peace on earth, Good Will to (wo)men - maybe I will see you there on Tuesday! Just don't get in my way when I spy that treasure!