Rummage Sales: Trash & Treasure

wooden bookshelvesTrash or treasure? At Roost, we certainly love the "less is more" approach when it comes to staging, moving, and settling into a new home... but I can't help it -- for all my talk of paring things down, I still love rummage sales. So this Saturday you'll find me heading down to Covenant Presbyterian's Annual "Trash & Treasure" Sale (8 a.m. to 2 p.m., Sat., March 2nd, 326 S. Segoe Road). Rummage sales, craft sales, vintage furniture sales -- I'm a sucker for this stuff. But after some trial and some rather unfortunate errors, I've developed a survival kit of sorts. It goes like this.

First, I take a look around -- I always have some household project (or 10!) going on, and generally there are a few things in the back of my head that I'd like to find at some point soon (currently on that list: vintage coat hooks to put up by the back door to help keep our winter gear in check, and a small table to create a landing strip in our living room; recently crossed off that list: a bedside table with mid-century lines, thanks to a $5 score at St. Vinnie's). I also know I'm prone to collecting certain things if I'm not careful (ahem, funky wooden trays and 1950's juice glasses, I'm looking at you). So I make a quick list of the few things I actually "need" (recognizing that that term is ridiculously relative -- I certainly didn't need that bedside table, but it sure makes the room more functional!) -- and I give myself a quick mental reminder of the things I certainly DON'T need more of.

Next, I take some measurements of any wall or floor space I might have my eyes on filling, and I keep a small measuring tape in my purse. Gone are the days when I buy a bookshelf or table from a yard sale, only to get it home and realize it's a few inches too tall, or that it partially blocks a floor vent. Been there, done that -- and though Craigslist is your friend when that happens (or you can try to re-purpose the piece elsewhere in your home), dealing with not-quite-right furniture is a drag.

Then, because yard sales and such are always full of items that have tons of potential for the right amount of elbow grease, I survey the number of projects currently waiting in the wings and determine how much "potential" I can really afford. For example, the shelves in the photo above, which I found at a neighborhood thrift store almost two years ago, are still waiting their turn to be painted. And two more pieces await some pretty major refinishing and repair in our garage. It doesn't matter how much potential that (fill in the blank) might have -- if it requires more than an hour or so to shine up and become fully functional, it's not hitching itself to my wagon.

Depending on the time of year, sales like this can be the perfect place to look for unique gifts, so I make a mental note of any upcoming birthdays or holidays. And then I always, always, always set a spending limit. Lastly, I try to explore rummage sales and craft markets with friends -- I tell them what I'm looking for and what I absolutely don't need, and then we help each other stay honest.

What are some of your favorite craft markets and rummage sales? What are some of your best finds??