Sunday, September 14, 2014

Local Shopping Challenge, Days 4-5: The Big Sale

You might think it was a bit of a cheat for me to schedule my weeklong local shopping challenge to coincide with the weekend of Highland Park's town-wide yard sales. Surely on a weekend when nearly there are literally hundreds of yard sales in town, it should be ridiculously easy to find something useful for under a dollar. And yet, as we made our way through the sales on Saturday morning, it looked like we might have less luck looking for free and cheap goodies at these sales than I did just wandering around town on Days 1 through 3. Even with a map to guide us toward the most sale-rich parts of town, we were finding almost nothing that we could use, and the few items we did pick up all cost more than a dollar. Plus, the sky had been grey and ominous all morning, and we knew that once the rain started, the rest of the yard-sellers would almost surely pack up their wares and head inside. I was beginning to fear that the only freebie I'd have to report for Saturday would be a handful of colorful leaves for my little fall basket, which adorns the railings of my side porch every year from Labor Day through spring.

Fortunately, the rain held off until after lunch, so we had time to hit some additional sales on the south side of town, ending up with the big rummage sale at the Reformed Church. There are always lots of household items there, such as the kneeling chair we picked up two years ago, and this time we managed to find several that were useful and priced under a dollar. The best find of the lot was a short-handled metal spatula, one of the few items that we were specifically looking for after our old spatula parted ways with its handle last week. And as you can see from the picture, it was only 25 cents. And just in time, too, as the rain had already started coming down by the time we entered the church; as we made our way back to the car, the few sales still out on the streets were all being packed in.

Sunday's weather was better than Saturday's, but the pickings were still slim. Or rather, slim for us; we actually passed quite a few sales with lots of good stuff, like furniture and appliances, but nothing that we could use. However, shortly before lunch, following a tip from a seller we met, we found ourselves down at one of the local synagogues, which was having its own version of a rummage sale—heavy on the rummaging part. It was a lot bigger and a lot more chaotic than the one at the Reformed Church, with a huge variety of goods of every kind—clothing, kitchen equipment, games, books, toys, and even foodstuffs. Everything had been sort of loosely grouped together into categories, but otherwise it was just laid out willy-nilly, some crammed into boxes, some spread on the ground, and absolutely nothing labeled with a price. Out of the jumble, we managed to lay hands on one thing that looked decidedly useful, an unopened can of walnuts that was still a month away from its "best by" date. We had a bit of trouble locating someone in charge among the throng of shoppers milling around and chatting in half a dozen languages, but eventually, by just sort of holding it up and calling out, "How much?" we managed to get a clear answer of "Fifty cents" from a youngish woman passing by. Since a good price for walnuts normally is five bucks a pound, we handed over our two quarters without hesitation and considered this single find a good enough bargain to justify the trip.

So those are our two bargains for Saturday and Sunday. That's not all we bought at the sales, of course, and perhaps I'll share the rest of our haul in a future post, but these are probably the two under-a-dollar bargains of the lot. Five days down, two to go, and only 75 cents spent.

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