Yard Sales can be thrilling or a total downer. If you’re in a hurry, which I always am, it’s important to know what to look for. There are 5 items that I always keep a beady eye out for- items that are perfectly good, if not better second hand. #1: Lamps: The beauty of lamps is that you get the base and can then buy a very inexpensive lampshade. I found one for my daughter’s room, which was just plain wood. She wasn’t thrilled – until we got to customizing it. We found an inexpensive little shade and she stuck ribbons and buttons all over it, ending up with something we could never have found. Just make sure that they’ll let you test that it works before you buy it (an obvious must for all electrical items).
#2: Pots & Pans: I always look for cast iron or stainless steel pots and pans. All my cast iron pans are from yard sales. Cast iron is a very green choice when it comes to cooking, and a good cast iron pan will last forever.
# 3Wooden Furniture: This is one of the first things I scan the yard for. Little tables, dressers, stools, chairs etc. You need to make sure it’s really wood, not just painted particleboard, which can be toxic. I found a fantastic pine dresser, which was covered in scratches and weird stains – nothing that a good going-over with some sandpaper didn’t fix.
#4Glassware/China: I went for dinner at a friend’s house the other night and I was so inspired. She’s one of those girls who is soooooo stylish and she’d set the old wooden table in her yard with an eclectic mix of old china plates and glasses – none of them matched and yet it looked like a spread from Bon Apetite Magazine. All of her china/glassware had come from yard sales!
#5Frames: Ignore the dreadful artwork/photographs and focus on the frame. I have found so many great yard sale frames, which have saved me a small fortune.
What to AVOID:
1. Foam furniture: I never buy foam furniture or foam-stuffed cushions (if you don’t know whether it’s stuffed with foam, assume it is.) Old sofas, chairs, chaise lounges etc are typically filled with toxic fire-retardants, which you want to avoid at all costs.
2. Plastic toys: Since BPA and phthalates have only been phased out of toys in the last couple of years, I would steer clear of any plastic toys that you haven’t actually purchased yourself from a responsible company (one who labels their products as BPA & Phthalate-free.)
3. Non-stick pots and pans: You want to try to avoid Teflon-coated pans anyway, as chemicals in the non-stick coating are a health concern. Also, when pans are thrown into a yard sale, the non-stick coating will often be chipped/scratched, which is even worse.
4. Plastic Containers: I recommend avoiding any old plastic containers that you might use for food storage. Glass is much safer choice all the way around.