Last week I shared the first key to finding awesome stuff at yard sales – making a plan. On to the next step – know what you are looking for.
Shopping at yard sales isn’t exactly the same as running down to Target for laundry detergent. You never know what you are going to find so it might seem a little silly to make a list. But if you have been to many yard sales, you probably know how overwhelming it can be at times.
You are surrounded by mounds and mounds of old, rejected stuff. If you don’t know what you are looking for, it’s pretty easy to do one of two things. Either buy way too many things because they are cheap and there is a tiny chance you just might need them one day. Or leave empty-handed because you are having a hard time separating the awesome-junk-with-potential from the everyday run-of-the-mill junk.
That is why it helps to have an idea of what kind of things you are looking for. So you can look past all the excess and find the gems.
I know that everyone is different but to help you get started, here is a list of the things I look for at yard sales.
Of course we would all love to find solid wood furniture with beautiful vintage lines and dove-tailed drawers in perfect condition. But I am cheap and you just aren’t going to find that for ten bucks. Plus I love to save neglected stuff. This is how a lot of the furniture I bring home starts out looking.
I’m clearly not holding out for perfection, but I also don’t want to end up with something beyond help. So these are the standards I go by when buying furniture –
- Real wood furniture only – no laminate.
- If there is veneer – it should be in pretty good shape or be barely hanging on so that it will be easy to remove
- The furniture piece needs to have a nice shape. This is pretty subjective. My favorites are pieces with nice vintage curves and details. But I also like very simple clean lines that can handle a more interesting paint treatment.
- I can usually deal with a little wobbling but I do make sure that all the drawers open and close smoothly.
- And don’t forget to look for super steals that can be used for parts – maybe the legs from a wonky table or the drawers from an old cabinet.
- old frames and mirrors
- old books
- vintage sheet music
- vintage suitcases and trunks
- wire baskets
- candleholders, lamps, lampshades, light fixtures
- old windows, shutters, doors
- old cabinet doors or other random wood pieces to make signs
- old silver or silver plated pieces
- little kid chairs
- old ladders, crates, tool caddies
- old hardware – door knobs, drawer pulls, hooks, pulleys etc.
- vintage Christmas ornaments
- old maps
- vintage cameras, fans, typewriters, globes, clocks
- other interesting vintage stuff
- curtains to use for the fabric
- letters and numbers made out of pretty much anything
- craft supplies
That’s what I look for but yard sales are great places to find all kinds of great stuff for cheap – toys, baby stuff, kids clothes, even plants. Whatever it is you may be looking for, just be sure to have some idea what it is beforehand.
What about you – what do you love to see at yard sales or thrift stores? Is there one special thing you really want to find this summer?