Garage Sales And Prepping Supplies
Garage sales are awesome. Who doesn’t like saving money, and getting to pick through other people’s random stuff? We sure do! We try to go once a month, especially when there are neighborhood association sales, community sales or special event flea markets (not the every-week ones with professional vendors).
Yesterday Snake Eyes & I (I’m Sandy) put 50 miles of roadway behind us in our garage saleing adventures. This is what I came back with this week.
My favorite item, after reading post after post on Survivalcommonsense.com about Dutch Ovens, is below. Thank you to the folks at Survival Common Sense for teaching me what to look for in a dutch oven, so when I’m out at a garage sale, I know what to look for. For example, dutch ovens with tripod feet are preferable to those that have no feet, as they can sit directly on coals and still pass air along to the coals underneath. My new purchase did not have the feet. I saw another one that did, for $55 more, and in much worse condition. Not worth the trade-off!
Look at this beauty! It just needs a little rust-removal, and a little seasoning, and it’ll be good as new. Actually… it is new. Used only once by the previous owner. Guess how much the set cost? $20. Yep.
The downside to this purchase? We found this in a flea market setting, at the booth the furthest possible away from the car. I made it halfway back to the car carrying the set (and my other loot) in a large tub before Snake Eyes generously switched with me and carried the tub the rest of the way. Very gentlemanly. A good topic for a future post!
Garage Sale Tip #1: Look At the Oft-Neglected
Look inside boxes, crates, closed bags – anything you see and don’t immediately recognize, look at it closer. See if perhaps there’s something inside of that container, or if there’s something really neat in that box under the table that everyone else passed by. The dutch oven and griddle were each in black cloth zippered bags – no labels at all. I wanted to know what was in there.. and look what I walked away with!
On that note, some garage sales have free boxes – whatever is inside is yours to keep. You know what I usually find in free boxes? Candles. Big ones, little ones… fat ones, taper ones… free.
While we’re talking about “things that make light”, my second favorite purchase of the day (after the dutch oven):
Kerosene lamps are fairly easy to find down here in Florida at garage sales and estate sales. A good buy is anything else than $5. I passed up 4 lamps today that were priced at $20 or $10. I have 5 already, and would like to pick up more. But not for that much. But a kerosene lantern, now that’s a find. You can walk with them in your hand, hang them outside, or burn them safely inside (with a low wick). Kerosene is also one of the safest way to make light that doesn’t involve batteries.
Garage Sale Tip #2: Sunblock & Water
All the items above make light. You know what else makes light? Especially when you’re outside finding loot? Yeah. Take sunblock. It was 53 degrees when we were scavenging (yes, in Florida – it was 36 when we started the morning!), and the sun was out and shining brightly.
Practice your preps! Take water, stay hydrated. You can usually pick up nalgene bottles at garage sales in free boxes, or for a few quarters. Take them with you next time you’re out. Get into the habit of taking water with you when you’re out and about, or at the least, a water filtration bottle.
I like maps. A lot. Perhaps a little excessively. Does anyone else have maps dotting the walls of their prep rooms? Another post for another day! But I picked up this beaut for the wall, thanks to Snake Eyes’ spotting something I missed.
Garage Sale Tip #3: Maps & Locating Sales
Don’t trust your GPS. Or your cell phone. You should know where you are going, where you are, and how to get back – always. Keep paper maps in the car. Print them off the Internet before you go. Just don’t trust your electronics. Particularly in Florida – you’ll often find your Garmin or TomTom telling you to drive right into a canal, or reroute 5 miles around the brush that is actually now a road.
So how do you find garage sales? Craigslist! It used to be your local paper, but most folks (at least, in my area), have gone straight to Craigslist.org where they can post for free. If you happen to have a Smart Phone, there’s actually a Craigslist garage sale app that will plot out a map for you with the most efficient route between sales. It’s neat. But try to find neighborhood sales, family sales, flea markets or other large events where you can hit up a bunch of vendors in one spot. It saves time and gas.
It’s Florida. Weather radios are a must-have.
These radios were $5 each, both tested on site. They both operate with batteries or by plugging in to the wall. The little one on the left also has a working hand-crank rechargeable battery. It took about 50 revolutions to get enough charge to operate the radio on-site, without any AAs inserted. The battery also charges the built-in flashlight. I’ve had my eye on a new one of these for a few months now, and can now spend that $50 on more prep items.
Garage Sale Tip #4: Set a Budget, and Bring Cash
The day before, decide how much you are willing to spend when you are out at garage sales and yard sales. Go to the bank and get fresh cash in $10 and $5 increments. Ones also never go astray. For this trip, I took $125 with me, and came back with $30. I also always take my check book, in case there’s something large that I wasn’t expecting to find, but must have. For example, I never expect to find a firearm, but sometimes, you can get lucky and ask the right people if they have anything in the house they’d be willing to sell. Look for the folks with hunting/fishing/prep gear for sale, or even the folks with airsoft or paintball guns out for sale. It never hurts to ask.
Also, don’t forget to bargain. Most folks are quite willing to bargain, you just have to ask. See Tip #6.
First aid kits – everyone needs them. Lots of them actually. I need a large one for each car, a medium one for each bug out bag, and several smaller ones. Whenever I see one at a garage sale, I pick it up, even if everything is expired and crinkled. The container alone is usually worth the $1 or so you pay.
Garage Sale Tip $5: Promotional Products are Useful
The little first aid kit and pocket sewing kit were both promotional products – products with a company logo stamped on them and given out for free at events and expos. If you own a company, a tiny first aid kit is a great promotional product to give out and maybe, just maybe, increase the survival awareness and orientation of your consumers. Or at least give them a band aid when they get hurt. If you’re a consumer, try crashing a medical expo now and then!
My last, and perhaps, cleverest purchases (thanks Snake Eyes for the idea), the topic of my next post.
Garage Sale Tip #6: The End of The Day
The end of the day is both the best and the worst time to garage sale. It’s the worst because “all the good stuff might be gone”. See Tip #1 about looking in often neglected boxes. Which brings us to the best time to shop – all those boxes left with heavy dutch ovens in them? They’re cheap. Really cheap. The seller doesn’t want to haul it back with them, and they just had that horrible realization that perhaps they should have been marking it down all along.. Then you come along, cash in hand, and throw out an appropriately low but acceptable offer. They’ll take it. You’ll get your box of goodies, they’ll get a little cash and one less thing to carry back into the house.
Always bargain. Even if you think you’re getting a fantastically AWESOME freakishly good deal that’s unbelievable – how can they not know how much it’s worth???? Bargain anyway. Because clearly they don’t know how much it’s worth to you, and it’s certainly not worth that much to them, or they wouldn’t be selling it. That first aid kit I paid $1 for? I could have tried $0.50, and I probably would have gotten it. But I violated the Correct Change rule of bargaining. Always have the correct change. If the item is priced at $3, and you ask for $2, and they accept, don’t hand them a $5. Hand them $2. They feel bad if you give them a $5, and it puts you and anyone you came with in a poor bargaining position for the remainder of that sale. It makes you look cheap. By having the exact change, it looks like you offered them only exactly what you could pay, and they walk away feeling like they did you a favor selling it to you at that price. You want everyone to be happy. Think win-win, and have exact change. Including quarters!
Garage Sale Tip #7: Take an Opposite
My last tip – take a buddy when you garage sale. Preferably a prepping friendly buddy, or they’ll ask why you are taking home 50 tea light candles…
Take a buddy who is your opposite, or who sees things you do not see. Someone who sees the potential in an object that’s a little outside of the box. For example, on our last trip, I saw a small black purse. I don’t need a small black purse, so I moved right along to look at a chainsaw. But where I saw a purse, Snake Eyes saw the truth – it was a small black binocular case. We walked away that day with two pairs of great, high quality field glasses for $2 and $8. I never would have noticed – they look just like purses.
If you are an outdoor, sporty sort of person who likes their tools, guns and taxidermy supplies, go with someone who will recognize that a pressure cooker is actually a canner, and that you can never have enough mason jars. Next time you are out at a garage sale and you pass by a section you would otherwise dismiss, go back and take a second look. Look at each object and quickly identify its potential uses as they relate to survival preparedness. How can object that help you survive and thrive? How can a blood glucose case help you stay safe every day? Stay tuned!