SEARCH METHOD #7 - YARD SALES
Yard Sale. Garage Sale. Rummage Sale. These are all the same thing, and they happen, in just about every city in North America, every weekend. The cold Canadian winters do interrupt this situation, each year, for about four months. However, for the most part, any weekend, anywhere will produce a host of buying opportunities. Often times right in your own neighbourhood.
Though the Yard Sale has been mentioned in SEARCH METHOD #3 - NEWSPAPER CLASSIFIEDS, more can, and should, be said about this wonderful, and incredibly rewarding, pastime.
Without a doubt, I love to go Yard Sailing! During the Spring, Summer and Fall, each Saturday morning in my area, produces Yard Sales. Yard Sale - Garage Sale - Rummage Sale. These terms, and others like them, are all interchangeable. For the sake of simplicity, the term Yard Sale will be used to describe each. These terms all mean that someone, somewhere is trying to sell something, they have accumulated some of, and now have little, or no, need for. Many Yard Sales will offer a quarter of a century, or more, of acquired items.
Yard Sales are not all the same. Some Yard Sales are a one time only event. The people hosting such an event, are trying to get ride of a bunch of stuff, that they have been accumulating, for years and years. Bargains, as well as rare and valuable items, are to be found at these Yard Sales.
Other Yard Sales are repeat affairs, with the sellers hosting yard sales two, three or more times each season. Bargains are rarely found at these sales. The question is, how to tell the difference between great and minimal potential, before you burn up gas, time and energy going all the way to the sale? If you wish to optimize your time, save money and increase your chances of finding a vintage road bicycle, in a single day of Yard Sailing, you will need to plan your effort.
There are two ways to plan a day of Yard Sailing. Check the classified section of the newspaper and seek out the Yard Sales category. I use my computer to plan a route to follow. I want to optimize my chances of covering the most sales possible, in the least amount of time. If driving, I try to reduce the amount of gasoline my truck would have burned by planning a route to be followed through the city. Jumping back and forth across town all day can become expensive when the cost of gasoline is concerned. If I have chosen to ride a bicycle for the Yard Sailing adventure, I will want to optimize time by following the route that allows opportunity to visit the most Yard Sales possible.
Preparing a Yard Sale Attack Plan is not difficult. With the Yard Sale Classifieds at hand, I use my computer to list which sales I intend to visit and in what order. I lay my route out to reduce distance traveled and still take in all planned areas. This planning task takes me a bit of time to complete each week, but it is worth the effort for a repeat buyer like myself. For the average bike hunter, Yard Sale Attack Plan #2 might be the way to go.
The other way to plan a day of Yard Sailing is to just go out and start looking for Yard Sale signs. Signs that will be posted (probably illegally) all over the place. Stapled to telephone or hydro poles. Staked into the ground at busy road intersections. Signs will be, what seems like, everywhere. Once you begin to look, the number of Yard Sale signs that present themselves will be pretty impressive. In my area, signs are posted the day before (usually Friday), and often times early the morning of the Yard Sale.
Finding and following signs is a lot of fun. If driving, you will benefit greatly, if you take someone with you. This someone will sort of act as a navigator and information recorder. Ensure that you and your navigator have something to write with and on. You will be spending a "Forest Gump and Box of Chocolates" day, never knowing what kind of filling (bike) the next Yard Sale (chocolate) will produce until you bite (get there) into the chocolate. Fun is the only word to describe this pastime and millions of other people already know this. And the fun factor really spikes when a bicycle presents its antiquated self.
I should add that Yard Sailing is an incredibly cheap way to entertain yourself and can become ADDICTIVE! I should also add that Yard Sales benefit everyone and every thing. Yard Sales is recycling at its very best! It is a front line proof that exercising environmentally friendly behaviors can benefit the seller, buyer and good old Mother Nature herself. And did I mention that Yard Sales are fun to attend one after the other, with both your navigator and hope as companions.
Yard Sailing is a great deal like gambling. You gamble your time with hopes that you will win a prize. And when the prize surfaces, when hope is rewarded, it feels just great. Perhaps too great! After a while, you will practically, feel as if you need a Yard Sailing “Fix”. And please, do not think that you are different or alone…
Yard Sailors, including me, are crazy. They (we) literally run from our automobiles in an effort to get to the sale as quickly as we can. My own mother, who is legally blind, has to be warned to allow the car to come to a full stop before opening the door and getting out. Honestly! If you do decide to try Yard Sailing, watch what the other people are doing and you will see what I mean.
Anyway, how to tell a repeat sale from a one time event. If the words "Early Bird" appear in the ad, it is a repeat sale. Repeat sellers are aware of what a nuisance Early Birds can be. Such repeat sellers make it clear by indicating that Early Birds are unwelcome. Don't waste time going out of your way to visit these sales. If, on the other hand, you just go out looking for and following Yard Sale signs, avoid the signs that look really sturdy and/or, easy to use over and over. A large sign, sitting on its own easel at a residential intersection is an excellent indication that the sign has been designed to be portable and used more than once. Avoid following such a sign's lead.
The reason to avoid repeat sales is that there are rarely any bicycles offered. Repeat sellers often frequent Yard Sales themselves, buy items and then re-sell them at a subsequent self hosted Yard Sale. Such sellers will rarely go to the trouble to drag a complete (and difficult to store) old bicycle home for resale. I don't waste my time with repeat Yard Sales. The choice, of course, is yours.
As you are reviewing Yard Sale classified ads, target anything that mentions bicycles first. Next focus on large sales, such as those often organized by church or charity groups. Third, on your "best bet" list, should be the Multi-Family Yard Sale. After that, all other ads are just about equal and you can just consider area or Yard Sailing routes.
Area or Yard Sailing Routes are important. By planning a route to follow, you will save both energy and time. Your route should be set up so as to avoid going back and forth across the city. I try to set my path in a loop that, more or less, circles the city but takes me through prime Yard Sale areas. Prime yard sale areas are those that have lots of residential dwellings in them. I do not look in areas that are heavily populated with apartment buildings. I do not look where there are no residential dwellings. Other than that, do not try to second guess what will be hiding where. Plan your route to pass through as many areas as possible, without going back and forth.
Now that you have a rough idea of the differences between Yard Sales and how to go about choosing where to go to find them, it would be a good idea to have a Yard Sale Buying Plan in place before you show up at one sale after another. Your plan for each sale attended should look something like this…
Make sure that you have money in your pocket. And don't think that a single $100.00 bill will get you far. Ensure that you have a really good assortment of change and small bills to work with. Also, ensure that you have something to write with and on.
When you arrive at a yard sale, look quickly for any bicycle that might be offered and of interest to you. Put and keep your hands on the bicycle. Maintain possession until you have made a deal for or decided against the bicycle. Did I mention that Yard Sailors are crazy? If you don’t stake your claim, someone else will literally snatch the bicycle up right in front of you. It never used to be this way because people were not interested in these old bicycles. Things have changed!
The following is the best possible information that I can pass on regarding Yard Sale procedure! If no bicycles are in view (usually the case these days), ask the Yard Sale host if he or she has any old bicycles for sale (do not target "Ten Speeds" yet). If they do, have a look and go from there.
The seventies something Freddie Grubb was presented for sale at a local Yard Sale - asking price - $15.00. Selling price - $12.00! Bartering is part of the fun, in case you are interested.
With the deal for the Grubb completed, I went to step two and asked if the seller had any other "Ten Speeds" like the Grubb, that he might also sell. The seller's eyebrows went up and he invited me to follow him into his basement where he kept his "good bike". Well, the "good bike" turned out to be a gorgeous, early eighties Peugeot "Sprint" that the seller would not let go for one penny less than $30.00. Fair enough! The Peugeot joined the Freddie Grubb and me later that day for the short journey back to the Old Shed.
If the seller does not have any bicycles for sale, thank them for their time and casually indicate that you are looking for an old "Ten Speed" (important name), the kind with the "skinny tires and low handlebars" (important description). Give that a moment to sink in. As often as not, going to this step will produce a forgotten bike. Believe it or not! For some reason, people seem to forget that they still have the bicycle they rode as kids or teenagers. Describing, in very common terms, the "Ten Speed" will stir memories and out comes a bicycle. This going to the second level of questioning produced, among many others, this lovely Bianchi 841d.
It is also important to indicate your interest to the Yard Sale host when other people (usually other Yard Sailors) can witness your request. Many is the time I have asked a host if he/she has an old "Ten Speed" for sale, only to be approached a moment or two later by a fellow Yard Sailor who over heard my question and just happens to have the kind of bicycle I am after. Believe it! This is how it works and it works well.
This seventies something Team Raleigh Record was acquired in just such a manor, through a fellow Yard Sailor, one day. After mentioning to the Yard Sale host that I was interested in finding an old "Ten Speed", another person attending the Yard Sale approached me and explained that he had just such a bicycle. He was good enough to allow me to write his name and telephone number down and I followed up as soon as I could. The result was this clean old Raleigh that surfaced, simply because I spoke up and followed up.
If someone else does indicate an interest, be prepared! Always carry with you something to write with and on. Try to get their name and telephone number. If they are reluctant to give out that information, offer them your name and number and hope that they will call. Some will call! Some won’t! Sometimes they will call months later, as was the case with this incredibly clean and barely used Peugeot Sport. It happens to me all the time.
You can combine your Yard Sailing with your riding as I do, if you like. I can cover just as many Yard Sales on one of my bicycles, as I can with my truck. I get a bit of exercise sprinting from sale to sale. I enhance my Yard Sailing enjoyment immensely. I save on gas money. And I have a wonderful "show and tell" example of what I am looking for. My favourite bicycle for Yard Sailing is my Sekine SHT-270. The one that came from the Dump.
If I do buy a bicycle when Yard Sailing on my bike, I ask permission to pick the bicycle up before the Yard Sale ends. I place my own, previously prepared, "sold tag" on the bike. The tag will have my name, phone number and "SOLD" on it (just in case). I also jot down the bike's location in my note book. Then, I simply go back and pick up the bicycle later in the day. I also promise that I will pick the bicycle up before the Yard Sale ends. I can remember one day when I had to make two trips at the end of the day just to bring all of the bicycles home. I can only get six or seven bicycles in my truck at a time though I did manage twelve on a 1500 mile journey once.
Getting a dozen bicycles and two suitcases into a small pick-up truck is a TRICK! They must be disassembled to fit and wrapped to protect. I should add that eleven, of the twelve, bicycles were found over a three week period. While my wife and I were traveling from city to city, visiting friends and relatives, I managed to fill what little free time I had left over to hunt for vintage road bicycles. The bicycles I found on that journey paid for the entire trip and added immensely to the Fun Factor of the journey.
How about hosting your own Yard Sale? Almost everyone has stuff that they no longer need or want. Why not offer it up for sale? Make a few bucks to put towards the bicycle you are hunting for and dramatically increase your chances of finding one.
If you host your own sale, ensure that you prepare a sign indicating that you are interested in acquiring an Old "Ten Speed" Bicycle. Include a picture on the sign and place the sign in a prominent place where your potential Yard Sale customers cannot miss it. In a single day, you might reach hundreds of people, earn hundreds of dollars getting rid of your unwanted stuff and experience incredible results, when it comes to finding a vintage road bicycle. I have and you can too.
That’s about it for the Yard Sale. Fun is the operative word here and results add great flavor to the fun. Give it a try and have a good time.