Get Out and Yard Sale Away!


Lyn Stanley, Staff Writer

There are two constants in life: people dying and people moving away. When either of these things happen, or, in rare cases, both, a yard/estate sale is born. As an opportunist and an avid collector of cheap oddities, I am always on the lookout for a good yard sale. 

Right now,  my phone’s notes app is full of addresses, dates, and times I’ve copied down from the yard sale signs I’ve seen while driving around. Sometimes I’m unlucky and miss an opportunity to strike gold at some dead guy’s 30-bedroom mansion on the lake, but other times, I have the perfect amount of time to go spelunking in suburbia. 

The key to a good yard sale is naivety. You want a seller who has never sold anything before in their entire life and has too much pride to ask other people for help. When you run across that kind of estate sale, you’ve gotta hit the nearest ATM faster than they can put down their last yard sign. 

Your luck is always statistically low, but the closer you have your ear to the ground and the more often you throw yourself at every yard sale, the higher the chance you have of finding some irreplaceable garment or object you would’ve never found anywhere else. 

Some of my favorite baubles include a cream-colored fur jacket I got from two very interesting Polish women (one of them was a retired professional ballroom dancer… I could go on all day about that estate sale), some carpet bucket hats, 1920’s Vogue adverts, a porcelain Cocker Spaniel, and antique crystal candle holders. 

In every one of those cases, I walked away having only paid 30 bucks or less. In a world full of hundreds of thousands of sellers and factories constantly churning out new products, I think it’s important that we remember that just because someone has died or left that doesn’t mean everything they owned left with them. We as a society need to get more use out of our stuff and get rid of the stigma that it’s cheap to reuse old things. 

I implore you to, while you’re driving to your soccer practice or to your friend’s house or to Starbucks, keep an eye out for yard sale signs. I know we live in Lake Forest and that most of you are wealthy enough to buy everything you wear or own new, but what that stuff lacks is character. The clothes and tchotchkes you buy at a yard sale have lived multiple lives and give you the chance to carry on someone else’s legacy. If that angle doesn’t appeal to you, it could at least make for a fun story! So get out there and start hunting– you never know what you’ll find!