Thursday, September 11, 2014

Local Shopping Challenge, Day 2: A treasure map

For the second day of my dollar-and-under local shopping challenge, I scored a freebie that comes but once a year: the program for our Highland Park's annual town-wide yard sale, which will take place this weekend. This annual event is sponsored by a local real estate office, which signs people up for the sale and, the week before, puts out a list of all the addresses where residents will be taking part. On the opposite page is a map of the town, for those who need help finding the addresses. It's an incredibly useful tool for getting the most out of yard sale weekend; instead of just roaming the streets randomly looking for sales, you can plot out a course that will take you through the most sale-heavy areas. This, according to Livingston's First Law of Yard Sales, will maximize your chances of finding the good stuff.

As I noted in my post about last year's sale, I like to cross-reference the list and the map by filling in all the sites of sales with x's on the map, coded by color to indicate whether they're Saturday only, Sunday only, or both days. This year, however, as I made my way back and forth from list to map with my colored pens, it occurred to me that there ought to be an easier way to do this by just inputting the addresses into Google maps and having it mark all the locations. And sure enough, I found a tutorial on how to do just that on this site. I found the site kept hanging for me due to some kind of wonky script on the page, so in case you have trouble with it too, here's a quick summary of what to do:
  1. Sign in to Google maps and enter your home address.
  2. Click on the marker and select, "Save to map." Then tell it to create a new map and give it a simple title like "Yard sale map."
  3. Then start entering the addresses of known sales and selecting "save to map" for each one. You can change the marker from a basic teardrop to some other shape and color if you like. I selected pushpins, color coded according to my usual scheme: green for Saturday, red for Sunday, or blue for both days.
It took a bit of time to enter all the sale addresses, but it was still a lot simpler than doing it by hand. (There's also an app called Yard Sale Treasure Map that's supposed to make finding and adding sales even easier, but I couldn't get it to work on my Mac.) In case any local readers were thinking of going to these sales, you can view a copy of my yard sale map here.

This may well be the most useful freebie I pick up in this whole week-long challenge: a genuine treasure map. OK, the treasures (mostly) won't be free for the taking, and we may have to search a whole bunch of sales to find them, but at least we don't have to sail all the way across the ocean to get to them and then dig them up by hand. (Too bad the sales aren't next weekend; then they'd overlap with Talk Like a Pirate Day, and my treasure map would be even more appropriate. And we could refer to it as Yarrrrrrd Sale Weekend.)

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