Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Getting the Most Out of Yard Sale Shopping

Ah, yard sale season: the rush of seeing your neighborhood block converted suddenly to a bazaar of rare treasures ripe for purchase! Having been to a slew of these this summer alone, I'd like take the time to offer some advice from my own shopping experiences. Here are my Top Five tips for yard sale shopping!

  1. Be Polite, even though this seems obvious. At a neighbor's yard sale, I remember one woman who was very rude because they didn't have enough change to break her large bills (we're talking Benjamins) because the yard sale had only just started. When they politely asked her to come back later--even offered to hold the item for her--she snapped at them as if the next words out of her mouth might be "I'd like to speak to the manager!" Her attitude was completely rude and unnecessary. You aren't at a store with items that can be restocked, you're a guest at someone's home, the items for sale are their possessions. Don't be condescending or judgmental (it makes me cringe when I hear people say aloud things like "Look at this piece of junk!" ). People like to do business with people who are friendly--and the next four tips really won't work unless you are being friendly.
  2. Ask if they're going to throw anything away. I know this may sound crazy (who wants to sort through trash at someone's garage sale?), but people throw away plenty at big yard sales because they simply don't believe they'll sell. I've found some fabulous freebies simply because something was chipped somewhere or the paint was scratched/needed retouching. I got a set of two large gold candleholders that just needed a bit of paint for absolutely nothing. True, it could just be garbage you find in the reject pile, but oftentimes people throw out perfectly functional furniture amongst other items. I usually buy a couple items first, then politely ask if there are any items they had gone through that they were planning to just throw out. It never hurts to look!
  3. Haggle, but do so logically and respectfully. If an item is five dollars, for instance, I might try to haggle it down to two or three (depending on the condition,etc). One tactic I employ is to find a group of things I'd like to buy and offer a lower number for the set (ex: if there's a chair and a couple of lamps that would cost fifteen separate, I ask if I can have the three of them for ten). If I only have enough money for a couple of larger items, but I see something small I like (usually one of the less expensive things, perhaps a tiny objet d'art), I might ask if they'll throw the small item in as a freebie or at least discount it. The only thing to remember about these tips is to use them sparingly--aggressive haggling can come off as rude. I usually only try each method once.
  4. Make sure you have a way to transport any larger items standing by, even if you are just planning on browsing. What if you see the perfect sofa or dining room table? Perhaps a large framed work of art? If you pay for it, make sure you can get it home. When yard sale season pops up in my neighborhood, I'm often just wandering around on foot with a tote bag, but I have a family member or friend with a car standing by in case I need it. This is also helpful if the item is heavy or cumbersome. Another piece of advice that might come in handy here is to ask if they can hold the item for you once you've purchased it--that way you can come back later in the day to pick it up.
  5. If it's late in the day, they will give stuff away. When a family has a big yard sale, it's usually an effort to liquidate items they'd otherwise simply donate or throw out. As the yard sale is about to end, there is a big desire to get rid of the remaining items before the day is over. I like to go to yard sales during the final hours of the last posted day when they're having one. If I ask for discounts, I'm far more likely to get them then, but I normally don't even have to: when the sale is winding down, the hosts will ask me to take things off their hands! Maybe not big things, but the last yard sale I went to before I moved I received a ton of things for free after buying just one or two items simply because the hosts didn't want to pack them back up or haul them off. A pair of tapered candlesticks, a large decorative basket, a spice rack, a vintage blouse, a console table and a set of crystal wine goblets are just a few items I can think of that I've gotten for free this way. Now, keep in mind this one isn't a guarantee, and I would never recommend showing up and flat-out asking if they're giving stuff away, but in my experience you are far more likely to get amazing deals when the yard sale is winding down.
So those are my words of wisdom when it comes to getting the bang for your buck at a local yard sale. I hope these tips and tricks are of use to you if you're in the market for used home decor items, furniture, appliances, or even if you're just browsing at a sale you stumbled upon while out for a walk. My being quite guilty of the latter (and happily so). I think yard sales are fun because every item you see has a story behind it--a grandmother's old heirloom, a table a family ate dinner at, a bed that was once a child's who is now grown--every piece was treasured by the people selling it. I like to wonder sometimes where things I've sold at yard sales now are: is a freshman excitedly bringing my old dorm decor and storage to her new home at college? Or maybe a little girl somewhere is playing on my old rocking-horse and mothering my old baby doll? Meeting with those who treasured the items face-to-face is just one reason yard sales are such gratifying secondhand shopping experiences. Anyway, hope you enjoyed this little advice post!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Updates, Updates!: Moving Tomorrow to a New Apartment!

Hi everybody! I've been gone awhile due to preparing to move to a new apartment in another state. I'm physically moving tomorrow, and I'm just about every emotional state one could think of! While I'm excited, I unfortunately don't have any financial security coming in to this, so the first couple of months will be job searching. My classes are in the evenings, so I have all day to dedicate to the search for employment. Broke lolitas do not buy brand, and broke graduate students can't pay rent XD

All the trials and tribulations aside, I'm rather stoked about finally having my own apartment. I live in a rented room unit in an older home with other tenants before, but now I'll have my own kitchen and bath and living room--all for me, no others to encroach on the space (except for my kitten, who is presently wondering where all his things are). I live right next to a lovely little gourmet tea shop too, which for a tea addict like me is a dream come true!

I'm working right now on an advice post about getting decor and furniture items secondhand. Since beginning this whole process, I have picked up a lot of tips and tricks for snagging cheap and free (yes, free) items for the home. Can't wait to share with all of you!


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

F-in' Tea! : Youtube Funny

The ladylike world of tea is taken on by some EXTREME MANLINESS in this hilarious send-up of fanciness, etiquette and macho culture. TIIIME!!!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Brief Hiatus this Week, Bonus: Cool Japanese Home Design Magazines

Hi everybody, I'm taking a break from posting this week to start the process of relocating to a different state. There will be posts on and off probably until late April while I'm going through this transition, but probably not a Monday Movie every week or long editorials. I'm excited about moving into my own apartment and starting graduate studies, but it's also a big (necessary) change--new location, new people, new work (on and off-campus I hope), and it's all a lot to take in. But all seriousness aside, I finally get to decorate my own home--not a room in my parent's house or half a dorm room, but my own home. I only ever had summer apartments before, so a more permanent locale will--I hope--lift my morale and support my career ambition.

Love the rose garlands, the colors and the drapery (I'm making my own, they are super easy to sew, being rectangles and all lol).

I'm looking at a lot of the home design Japanese girl's magazines right now for decorating inspiration. These girls for the most part live in tiny, tiny apartments (like I'll probably have to), but they really make the most of the space with drapery, lighting, and little touches here and there. I promise when all is said and decorated, there will be photos and tutorials! ♥

Monday, March 21, 2011

Monday at the Movies: Jean Cocteau's "Beauty and the Beast" (1946)

The trailer so you get a better idea of the moving visuals. Truly a work of art.

In keeping with the popularity of fairytale films for adult audiences (read: Red Riding Hood, Beastly), I thought it fitting to look at the definitive fairytale film and one of my personal faves, Jean Cocteau's 1946 art house classic, La Belle et la BĂȘte (Beauty and the Beast). There are so many reasons to see his movie I can hardly find where to begin. I suppose I should start by saying that everyone--seriously--every version of this story in film has copied Cocteau's version: Fairytale Theater, Cannon Movie Tales, and of course, Disney (though the Disney version does this the least and is far more subtle, in my pov). This is how far this film's influence has extended over the years.

The Beast gives Belle the Golden Key as a symbol of his love and trust in her.

Perhaps the reason Cocteau's fairytale remains the standard is because it is both hauntingly surreal and perfectly human. Belle as acted by Josette Day is not just a humble, self-effacing peasant girl--she truly is brave and by the end learns the importance of following her own path rather than constantly sacrificing for others. Day's physical acting was also terrific, as much of what needed to be conveyed in the story was done silently through a gesture or a glance. Her Beast, her oafish village suitor Avenant and the Prince Ardent at the end of the film are all played by Jean Marais (brilliantly, might I add). The director wanted to make the Beast so real and pathetically human under all his monstrosity that when the transformation does occur, Belle (and consequently the audience) almost misses his previous form. Avenant is ultimately transformed into a beast himself when Prince Ardent comes back, the latter retaining the former's good looks but not his bad attitude.

Belle mesmerized by the Beast's spellbound castle.

The atmosphere of the film is expressive and surreal--the candles on the wall move by themselves, statues around the castle come to life and all moves on its own as if controlled by some unseen force. This is something best described as "frighteningly beautiful." The final scene wherein Prince Ardent flies through the heavens with Belle to his kingdom is reminiscent of the spiraling paintings of Raphael (current to the period the story is set in). It's almost like the Seventh Seal meets Disney: a charming visualization of the fairytale genre, but done with the intent of making an artistic masterpiece that touches on very grown-up, real-world emotions and ideas. If you haven't seen Cocteau's Beauty and the Beast, I suggest you find a copy, turn out all the lights and let yourself experience this extraordinary film.

Belle and her prince fly through the air to their faraway kingdom.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Happy First Day of Spring (and also Purim) plus a small photo post! ❁

Spring is (calendar-wise) officially here in my hemisphere! Today also happens to be the Jewish feast of Purim (a celebration of the events in the Book of Esther), so a Blessed Purim today to any of my Jewish readers out there. I can't help but feel a little happier on a day like this. I went on a picnic with Marmie and the pooch to take in the flowers that are all starting to bloom.

Still chilly, so long sleeves, but here's some photos! You can't see too clearly, but the headband is covered in little daisies Photos under the cut:

A very happy Spring to you all!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day 2011!

Not sure how many of my readers are Catholic or of Irish descent, but I wish you all a Happy St. Patrick's Day today!