Hitting the Pagosa yard sale circuit

The florescent signs with addresses and arrows are rituals of spring and summer, and they seem to crop up every weekend. You can most often spot them grouped around street corners and situated at the end of driveways. You may have guessed — these are the yard sale, garage sale and flea market signs.

Phrases such as “buy locally,” “beat the recession” and “stretch your dollar” are everywhere — in printed media, on radio and television stations, and in daily conversations heard at home, at work, or at the grocery store.

Check out some of these advertised sales. What you will find there can help you follow up on these phrases, stretch your budget and provide some great weekend entertainment. Scooting from one sale to the next is a great weekend pastime for many, and can become addictive. These are the people who are walking away with great bargains, and it may well be worth your while to join them.

The offerings vary greatly from one sale to the next and from one week to the next. There are some amazing bargains out there, however. You will find individual sales, large sales where several families have gotten together at one yard, and entire neighborhoods that have their sales on the same weekend so you can drive from place to place.

Are you ready to get started? A good place to begin is the classified section of The SUN. There is a special section for Yard Sales, and more are often listed in the “Too Late to Classify” section. Decide next if you are a Friday shopper, a Saturday shopper, or both. Then, to make the most of your time, highlight the sales you are interested in, or make a list in the order that you want to travel from your home. A harsh reality is that you can’t be at every single sale when it opens — just do the best you can. Descriptions in the ads and sale locations will help you decide where to begin.

You probably don’t need to worry about eating a big breakfast before you head out. If you don’t mind extra calories, there are often kids (or adults) out there selling homemade brownies, cookies, lemonade, coffee or soft drinks. One thing you should do, however, is travel with small bills and some change. If you show up at the first sale with only $20 or $50 bills, the seller may not want to sell that $1 item to you and give up all his or her change. The general rule of thumb is “cash only” but there are exceptions. I suggest traveling light, perhaps using a fanny pack, a wallet in your pocket, or a purse with a strap so you have your hands free for shopping. It’s too easy to set a purse down and forget about it.

Some people have a purpose — a list, an agenda. Others just watch for items that strike their fancy. Some people cruise through quickly with an eagle eye trained to spot certain bargains, and others look through every rack, every box and every table before checking out. You will find your own style.

Even if you are looking for specific items, sometimes you spot an item you love or have often wanted, but never thought was in your budget. Take a look at some of the items you could have brought home last weekend.

Yes, the kitchen sink — and a couple of bathroom ones besides — were out there. At one sale were brand new, still in the box, faucets and fixtures at a fraction of their original cost. Need towel bars for that bathroom? I spotted brass, oak, and wrought iron ones. There were towels in various colors to hang on the racks as well. There is more about kitchen items later in the article.

Have you broken the pot to your coffee maker and are having trouble finding a replacement? Check out the yard sales. Several brands of coffee makers were out there, ranging in price from $1 to $6. There were clear glass coffee mugs, mugs for dads, mugs for fishermen, mugs for holidays, and countless others. The price varied from 25 cents to $2 for the really nice ones. Piles of kitchen utensils could be had for 25 to 50 cents each. There were pots and pans, small appliances, lots of plastic ware, mixing bowls, serving bowls, and some complete dish sets. I also found barstools, a dinette set, and a fairly nice dining room table with six chairs.

Are you in the market for new or different bedding and linens? I spotted sheets of varying sizes — a set of two king flat sheets was going for $3, for example. For this price, many of us can tuck flat sheets in for bottom ones! There were numerous other sizes of sheets, some blankets, comforters, duvet covers and pillows. There were two mattress sets and one top mattress that looked nice as well.

I checked for examples of outdoor and sporting goods equipment. At one sale alone I found a set of golf clubs for $8. Not being a golfer I can’t tell you much about them, but I know the bag alone was worth more than that. Right next to them was a folding caddy for the golf bag for only $5. These folks didn’t have golf balls, but I’ve seen them around — by the ball, the bag or the box. They did, however, have at least a half dozen soccer balls, and a couple of basketballs. There was a badminton set for $1. For someone thinking ahead, there were ice skates for $5 a pair and two toboggans for small children that were only 50 cents each. There was a float tube for fishing for only $25. For the fisherman wanting a little more room, a 12-foot aluminum fishing boat could have been had for $300.

I was amazed at the items out there for the kids. You can find like-new articles of clothing for as little as 25 cents, on up to several dollars. All are well below what you would expect to pay retail, and are often good name brands you may not be able to afford for your kids. The first sale I found on Friday morning was multi-family, and all families had young children. They were selling beautiful books, clean toys that looked new, lots of clothes that were in excellent condition, walkers, car seats, Halloween costumes, shoes and boots, and more that the kids had outgrown. I imagine these children were going to get to buy new items (perhaps at yard sales?) that are now more age appropriate for them.

Are you an empty nester and don’t think you need children’s items? Wouldn’t it be nice to have some different toys, games, and books for grandchildren or friends who come to visit? It’s a good idea to have some extra jackets for cold weather visitors, too.

Regretfully, people do leave our community for health, family or financial reasons. If they are moving on to warmer climates, there is a lot of winter clothing that is left behind. There is an abundance of work clothes for men, warm clothing for the kids, and countless coats, jackets, and boots. I saw men’s chamois shirts as well as other shirts and pants for both men and women for only $1 each. There is indeed something out there for everyone.

Among the items I found for the big kids were tools of all kinds, gardening equipment, a go-cart, craft supplies, computers, stereo systems, television sets, DVDs, CDs, a huge supply of books, games, sewing machines, and other hobby equipment. Earlier this season I even saw a great jeep and an ATV.

There is no way I can ever list all the bargains. I found lamps, a solid wood baby cradle, and bicycles of every size and description. There were baskets of plants ready for your garden, and lots of empty pots. There was a snow rake that got picked up immediately, and some snow shovels that weren’t the biggest sellers of this early summer day. There were tables full of baskets, and decorations for every holiday season. I saw pottery pieces, framed art, and empty photo frames waiting for your favorite photos. There was a variety of furniture. Whether you collect Santas, snowmen, roosters, sports cards, or porcelain birds, you would have been thrilled at some of the bargains. Name brand purses and totes were out there, as was lots of jewelry belts, shoes, boots and caps. I saw saddles, tack, pet carriers, and a trailer ready for you to hitch up to take your things home on!

Once you get in the swing of yard sales, chances are good you will realize that you can also clear out your home, make someone happy with what you have to offer. You can find yourself with a source of income so you can go out and buy some more treasures. Even if you don’t find what you are looking for on a particular day, you can have lots of fun “people watching,” visiting with your friends who are also out shopping, and buying things you never knew you needed but find you can’t live without. And what if you change your mind later? Just save it for your own yard sale and recycle it. Happy shopping!

SUN photo/Barbara Draper
Carrie Weiss takes advantage of some nice weekend weather to examine a display of baskets offered at a Pagosa yard sale. The yard sale circuit is a big favorite for many residents of Pagosa Country — visiting sales to browse, buy and socialize, and holding sales to offer a wide variety of items no longer in use.