Nowhere is the phrase “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” more true than at a yard sale.
Each Saturday when the weather is good, bargain hunters comb through tables of items in yards and garages that the owners no longer want, looking for that perfect find at a fraction of its usual price.
Karen Bower found one of those recently.
“I found an antique oak rocking chair that was beautiful, just last week,” she said. “It was $35 but it should have been a lot more.”
On Saturday she was back at it again, combing through items at a $2-a-bag sale in Hermiston.
“I just love to go to garage sales. I find great stuff I need,” she said, holding up a plastic grocery bag that included a lightly-used Carhart jacket, desk lamp, wall hangings and a few small electronics. “This is a $2 bag. Imagine!”
She goes yard sale-ing whenever she can, and said multi-family sales usually have the best finds.
The one she was at Saturday morning was put on by three families and included a wide variety of clothing, furniture and household items.
Tammy Wagner, who was handing out grocery bags to customers, said her family had been saving up items for a couple of years.
“We did the $2 a bag so we could get rid of stuff,” she said.
Several young families were there at about 10:30 a.m. picking through tables of children’s clothing, and Wagner said there had been a steady flow of people all morning. She wasn’t sure if people would be out looking for sales the weekend before school started, she said, but since it was such nice weather and the smoke had finally cleared it seemed like a good opportunity.
Some sales draw in casual passerby with signs, while others that are held farther out of town might require some advertising on Facebook or in the classifieds to let the serious bargain hunters know that the sale is worth tracking down when they go out that weekend.
Off Edwards Road, an expansive multi-family sale featured clothing, tools, housewares, books and other items laid out over the yard and inside the barn.
Organizer Jan Herndan said she tries to have one with a few other families once every other year. The sale was set to run Saturday and Sunday but she said a few people actually showed up Friday to ask if there was any way they could buy things early (they were asked to come back the next day). She said Saturday morning had been steady, and the camping equipment in particular had been going quickly.
She said usually knows it’s time to put on a yard sale when she is running out of room for new possessions and she has articles of clothing she isn’t wearing anymore because her style has changed. Her husband passed away since her last yard sale, she said, so she was also parting with quite a few of his things.
“It was just time,” she said.
On Division Avenue, a smaller sale of clothing, jewelry and a few larger items such as a guitar were on display. Lola Lopez said she had priced things according to what she would be willing to pay, and most of what she didn’t sell would likely be donated to Goodwill while the bigger-ticket items she would try and sell online. She had a DeWalt drill sitting near the front of the yard and said throwing in a power tool or some fishing equipment can help wives convince their husbands to stop and take a look at a sale.
She is also a frequent shopper at yard sales herself, and said her favorite thing she ever bought at a yard sale was a small microwave that looked like it belonged in the 1970s.
“It was just the cutest ever microwave,” she said. “It was $5.”
Jackie Alleman showed up at Lopez’s sale with a couple of kids from her neighborhood and a college student from her church. She said they carpooled from Heppner to hit up as many sales in Hermiston as they could, looking for back-to-school clothes and other deals.
It can be tricky to know what time to go out — some of the best finds get snatched up early in the day, but Alleman said the later in the day you go the more people are usually willing to come down on their prices.
“There’s a whole etiquette to yard sales,” she said.