Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Quest for More Incredible Finds

A crazy good deal

Lace and open toed baby shoes

After living in Alaska for so many years I have gotten pretty good at avoiding the crappy garage sales. You can pretty much tell just by doing a drive by whether it will yield treasures. We don't have that many good ones. People tend to hold on to the good stuff and there are mostly the type of garage sales that go into the category of moving sales.

"Kid's toys and baby clothes and new stuff... keep driving" I'll yell out as we pass by. Every once in awhile you may come across the "estate sale" type of garage sale that's advertised with a detailed list of collectibles and then all of the treasure seekers are out in full force to get first shot at it. These garage sales are few and far between. The thrift stores usually aren't much better for the good old stuff either. It's a young state. The good antiques are in museums already.

The best one lately was when our local historian, Candy Waugaman hosted an auction for a fundraiser with a huge garage full of Alaskan Statehood and Fairbanks historical ephemera. I couldn't make that one but gave my husband a hundred dollar bill and carte blanche to "find me some stuff!" He didn't disappoint.

But now that I'm in Arizona half the year I'm amazed at the amount of really good treasures to be found at antique shops, thrift stores and garage sales and even stuff that's just laying on the ground sometimes.

My friend Sue was telling me about an enormous thrift shop in Green Valley where I might be able to rummage. Green Valley is a retirement community where estate sales abound and there is a steady supply of vintage goods getting cycled through.

It seemed like a good enough reason for a day trip and combine it with lounging at the community center pool and jacuzzi where her parents live.

We first stopped at the kitschy cowboy town of Tombstone for number one garage sale on a side street. The score there was artfully arranged hat pins in a salt shaker, a brass nameplate for a dime and a carving of a fish in Burmese jade. I can never understand why anyone even bothers to sell something for a dime at a garage sale but hey, I'm not complaining! It 's that kind of old school sale where some old gal looks over the item and announces 25 cents. Now that's a deal!

We found ourselves at St. David on down the highway again cruising the garage sales there. There's a trailer park of snowbirds that are trying to downsize by having a neighborhood wide sale on the weekends. It seems like I always find great deals in St. David. Last time it was the thrift store with a $3 a shopping bag sale. I netted buffing rouge, sea green melamine cafeteria, trays, craft supplies and a couple of vintage books. I think we left with three bags full. Not to mention fresh pecans, pistachios and frozen roasted poblano peppers from Thomas Nut House.

Maybe I need to keep my mouth shut right about now rather than announcing this to the world here!

I immediately found and crazy quilt of corduroy and wool for an unbelievable price of $20.
Right next door was a table piled high with lace and tatting for 25 & 50 cents a piece, vintage leather open toed baby shoes, a vintage Grumbacher Oil Color painting set, a pair of unusual scissors which purpose is yet to be determined and a scrumptiously crumpled vintage dress.
Further on down the lot I found an antique bottle for California Fig Syrup and two crazy quilt pillows of velvet and satin that the woman's grandmother had made. A buck a piece!

As pulled up to Green Valley at 12:10 I notice the sign for the White Elephant Thrift Shop and its hours are posted. Closes at 12:00. What kind of store closes at 12:00? I had to realize that my haul for the day was actually sufficient and that I needed to abandon fantasies about what was hidden behind the doors of the mega-thrift shop of my dreams.

To allay my disappointment that night we found one of the few establishments that's open past 9:00 PM in this geriatric community and found a karaoke bar full of some of the younger folks in their sixties belting out Frank Sinatra and other croon-worthy songs.


  1. Wow! GREAT finds! I can hardly wait until garage sales start here again!

  2. that's a good thing still about being in New England. One still finds treasures all over the place. I've been hording a bag of lace... just lace from slips and gowns and dresses of my great aunts, grandmothers, great grandmothers. I do not sew. But I just look at them from time to time. And I have a crazy quilt made from my Aunt Ellen's dresses (She is the 94 year old aunt in FAIRBANKS), and one of velvet scraps--again from the old and faded gowns of the "Skinnah girls" of Upton Massachusetts. I avoid yard sales at all costs! Sounds like you hit a good one!

  3. Gosh what a great day! I truly feel a kind of "high" when I score some really good deals and really good "Stuff"
    My husband gets concerned when I start collecting too much stuff.. I already have little corners of tchotchkes all over..
    Having a friend who loves to do this too is definitely a plus..

  4. Hi! I love your blog and your beautifully written tales. You've made some wonderful finds. Thanks for visiting my blog - your comments are much appreciated! x

  5. the best ones I've ever been to were in Maine and Missouri. I had never been to an estate sale until I lived in Missouri - I left with enough stuff to fill two truckloads for UNDER $100! a couch, dishes, furniture and odds and ends. I was extremely broke then and moving into an unfurnished apartment, so really needed it

  6. Sounds like a great place to me. But...folks in their 60's belting out Frank Sinatra? Nah...I'm 60. We don't do that. It was my parents' generation that loved ole Frankie. LOL! We belt out that 'ol time rock n roll!

  7. Gina, I probably should have said 60's and older. Kind of a mixed crowd. There was a 92 year old singing and dancing there too. he was charming all the ladies!
    Thanks for visiting my blog.


  8. I miss junking in AZ! the Estate sales in Sun City were awesome! so many retirement communities and you only take the good stuff with you ...ya know?
    I think I have the label to your california fig syrup bottle!!

  9. I have some friends that inherited a home in Sun City after over 20 years of living remote Alaskan bush life. They've invited me to go estate sale-ing with them.
    Legendary I hear!


  10. Wow, you've made some gorgeous finds.
    Love especially that baby shoes!
    Have a good one. Gaby xo

  11. Kim, that's excellent. I like the idea of sewing three sheets together to make a thicker weight. Helps to solve this problem. Thanks for sharing.

  12. wow, those are fabulous finds! i lived in scottsdale for a few years and frequented the flea markets, but i never really hit any garage sales. and here, there's not really such a thing. sigh. i'll have to live vicariously through yours. those that crazy quilt and the pillows are fab!

  13. Wow! How did I miss the crazy quilt
    pillow, what a steal!
    I have not been very good about
    my blogging lately and see what
    I am missing?


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