There. I said it. I feel better.
And I know I'm not alone. Many people love the thrill of finding something unique, or “too cheap to pass up” at garage sales, yard sales – or whatever you call 'em. I just go!
I love garage sales for a number of reasons. I enjoy the community feel you get when you talk with neighbors you otherwise would have never met, or when you run into the same group of garage sale shoppers throughout the morning as you all hop from sale to sale. I love accidentally bumping into a bike that I know my son wanted, or a little something that my daughter would love for her room. I have also learned that I have a really weird thing for lamps. (Okay, that's enough sharing.)
As the president of my neighborhood home owner's association, I coordinate an “association-wide garage sale“, so I also love participating as a garage sale holder. It's great to purge! Over the last few years of my garage sale shopping, I've come to learn what I really will use, and what will likely end up in my next garage sale. I'm not perfect at this knowledge, but I have finally begun declining to purchase some things that, in prior years, I “had to have”. Yep, I'm growing.
A few years ago, I found a case of 6 high quality wine glasses. They were huge; they held my cabernet well, and had plenty of room to allow my wines to open up. They immediately became my favorite new wine glasses. (And at $6 for the case, I think I got a good deal!) But, they had very slender stems. Since they were not dishwasher safe, I found myself accidentally breaking the stems as I washed them. You'd think for $1 a glass I wouldn't mourn the loss of each of those glasses. But I did. There's only one left of the original six. <tear>
Ever since then, I've found that I really enjoy looking for wine related gems at garage sales. And this spring was an exceptionally good one for finding several wine treasures! I thought I'd share them with you. Why? Because if you've always wanted a decanter like me, but figured you'd never use it so you wouldn't shell out $20 for a new one, then maybe you, too, will be lucky enough to find one for $3 at your next rummage sale.
I know the benefits of a decanter: “Let your wine breath and open up. Then pour your glass of wine from a classy decanter!” But I know me, and I know that I'm too impatient. I'm happy with swirling my wine in my glass, thank you very much. And, I know that a decanter is unlikely to fit in my dishwasher, so it would probably be unused and clean, or used and dirty. So, I've never spent the money on one, even if I found it on sale for $20 at Kohls, and I have Kohls cash to burn. Just couldn't do it.
But, for $3? Wrap it up, lady! I'm taking this thing home.
A Blind Wine Tasting Game.
Now this one, I knew I'd never use, so I didn't purchase it. Not even for a measly $2. It would just end up with a pile of dust on it. But, it was cool looking enough to take a picture of it. That's all I'll need it for. The picture. (And this blog post.) See? I know how to pass up a good deal.
Wooden Wine Racks.
So this couple in the neighborhood down the road were having a garage sale because they're moving to Boca Raton, Florida. They got an unsolicited offer for their house, and they considered this offer as a sign that they needed to seize the moment to move to Florida.
At their sale, I picked up a pair of punching bag gloves (for the punching bag I found for $20 the previous weekend) and a few other sporting related items for my kids. But out in the driveway, I kept walking past these gorgeous hand-made wood wine racks. There were 6 of them and they were staked 2 high, 3 wide. Every time I walked by them, I told myself, “just look away, Todd. You have no place to keep them!”
But then I'd look again, and think, “But you have over a hundred bottles of wine in your basement. They need a better home than those cardboard cases!”. I hate arguing with myself. I always lose.
They were priced at $40 for the lot of 6. As I was clearly struggling with this decisions, they nice woman who was holding the garage sale asked me if I'd take them for $30. I explained that I really like them. In fact, I would take them for $40 if I had the room. I just can't think of a place where I could put them.
She replied, “would you take them for $20 total?”.
Damn you. “Yes. Yes, I will.” See I'd be stupid not to take them!
Antique 15 Liter Glass Carboy
In a previous blog post, I shared my new love for making wine at home. I had no idea that only one mile north of my house was another home with a man who had been making wine for the last 50 years with his friends! But, thanks to his garage sale, I not only learned all about his wine making life, but I picked up a really cool looking glass carboy too!
This carboy is unlike any I've ever seen. (It's probably a standard carboy in Europe, or 40 years ago. Hell, I don't know.) It's made of green glass and has s really interesting bulbous shape. The mouth is wider than any carboy I've seen, and I may find that I'll have trouble finding a plug that fits. I don't care, it looks cool! And, it comes with a unique plastic case that is used to hold the carboy and make it easy to carry.
That's what struck me at first. This plastic thing that could be a home-mulching device had a glass tube sticking out of it. I asked the old guy running the garage sale what it was. He said that it's “for wine”. My eyes lit up and we struck up a conversation that lasted over 30 minutes.
I told him that I have a wine related website with a couple of my friends, and that I'm now getting into making my own wine. He told me that he has 5 more of those carboys in the basement if I wanted them. Knowing that I'd probably better ensure that I use this first one, we exchanged phone numbers in the event that I wanted to pick up some more.
I spotted an antique grape press in the back of his garage and asked him about it. “It's not for sale. It's an antique worth a few thousand dollars,” he said. As it turns out, he and a group of 5 lifelong friends purchase grapes by the truck load, pressed them into 150 gallon barrels and make several thousands of gallons of wine themselves every year. And that's how he used the carboy sitting before me. His friends and he stopped making wine together a few years ago when their wine master friend moved to Italy. The wine press and the carboys have been sitting there ever since.
That was the highlight of my garage sale experiences this year: Talking with that guy about wine and bringing that big green glass carboy home.
I hope I use it soon so it doesn't end up in my next garage sale.