A friend of mine was having a garage sale last week (what the rest of the world outside New England calls a tag sale). She was trying to figure out why people weren't buying the stuff that was so great that she was trying to get rid of it. "What are you looking for when you go to a garage sale?" I wasn't really sure.
I'm pretty much an amateur at garage sales. I have only had one in my life, and I don't think it was that successful. As far as shopping, I somehow feel odd about driving up, getting out and taking a quick look around and then not buying anything, which is what a seasoned shopper must do to find the real bargains. This past fall, Amanda and I would stop at tag sales on the way home from her soccer games. It was kind of fun, and we did find a few great deals--a lamp, a toy for Kyle, and a little fold down secretary type desk with drawers for only $10 or $15! I love that desk. For some reason, I don't feel so conspicuous with her there with me. It makes it fun to stop in whether or not we find a purchase.
So, the Spring tag sales have started. I picked Amanda up from a girls' sleepover at church (where she had a ball), and we stopped at a few tag sales on the way home. The first one was a miss. I was tempted by some 25 cent paperbacks (yes, there's my weakness--books!), but didn't get any. At the second, I found a new condition counting board book for Kyle on the free table. Then I found another new condition Sandra Boynton book. It was 25 cents, and we didn't have it yet, so I picked it up. About that time, Amanda saw the neatest looking Elmo/Cookie Monster Magna Doodle, also like new, and also 25 cents. She said, "Kyle would love this," and she was right. I told her that she could pay me 25 cents from her allowance, and give it to him for his upcoming birthday just from her. So, we left stop number two fifty cents poorer and excited about our finds.
Tag Sale number three tempted Amanda with an Easy Bake Oven. I have resisted the Easy Bake Oven for many years, and I will continue to do so. She seemed okay with my answer that "it's big and hard to store, and you have to buy the special mixes." I feel a little guilty, but it's not the kind of thing we have room to keep. I don't feel too guilty, because instead of Easy Baking together, we Really Bake.
But we did get the Guesstures Game for only $1, including the instructions, which a control freak like me needs, and probably the best find, an almost-new hardbound Thomas the Tank Engine Collection for 25 cents! I shared this with Kyle right away, and I was amazed at his ability to name all of those Engines to me. It has taken me a while to figure out all their names and the differences, but at not even two years old, he can differientiate between Percy (small and green) and Henry (bigger and green), which took me a while. He wasn't quite ready to sit for an entire story, but he enjoys being read to, so if the timing is right, I think he will be able to sit through an entire story.
So, based on today, I guess I have an answer for my friend as to what I really want to buy at a garage sale--books! Books that I look for for me (not only at tag sales, but at used bookstores, sale racks at regular bookstores, and online bargains) include cookbooks, cheap paperback fiction for leisure reading, and interesting Christian nonfiction. For the kids, good condition board books for Kyle that are priced cheaply and in decent condition, or something like the Thomas book that is just a bargain! Amanda is quite an avid reader, so if I can find some of her favorite series such as Nancy Drew Notebooks, A to Z Mysteries, or the Boxcar Children, I feel like I've done well.