Archives for posts with tag: sales

In a conversation with some of my grandkids, I was surprised that they weren’t thinking about gifts for their parents or siblings. When I was little, I bought presents for my parents, brother and sister and my grandparents. I had a memory of going to the dime store with $5 to buy all the gifts and coming home with Evening in Paris perfume for my mother and I can remember buying a lot of handkerchiefs for everyone.

This past few days, I’ve taken a couple of the grandkids on shopping trips so they could buy gifts. My 12-year old granddaughter has been finished for weeks, everything perfectly selected and probably wrapped by now. She’s got the whole thing figured out. No need to help her.

I took my 4-year old granddaughter shopping for her mother the other day. Since it’s just the two of them, I thought she needed to have a surprise or two for her Momma. And she’s old enough to start learning the giving part. I asked her mother likes jewelry and she replied, “Yeah, she does.” I wish I could write the inflection she uses for that phrase, because it is way too cute. She had a bit of a time picking out things because a 4-year old doesn’t understand prices very well, but we found something appropriate and special. Then we went to Target for some fillers. That’s the true test, because it was hard to get her away from the toys and what SHE wanted. She picked out something, a little treat, and I asked her if her mother liked that. She said, “Well, I do.” I guess Mom will, too. That was harder than I thought it would be because I had to watch her all the time. They get away from you so fast at that age and we all know that panicky feeling of turning around and finding them gone. In a nanosecond. She’s pretty proud of herself and promised to keep it a secret. I think that will work since she’s already moved on to something else. The learning part will come when she presents her gifts to her Momma and sees the delight.

Today, I took my 12-year old grandson shopping. He had $20 to buy gifts for his parents, his brother, and three grandparents. I told him I could help out, but he quickly made it clear he wanted to stay in his budget. We started at the sporting goods store, which was having a store-wide sale. We circled the store as the reality of prices settled in. Up until now, he’d done his holiday shopping at the little store at his elementary school where kids could buy cheap gifts, really cheap gifts, things only a parent or grandparent could smile at. He had looked so stricken when his older cousin told him that they didn’t have those stores in the middle school that I offered to take him shopping.

I told him to watch for Clearance signs, which would have the best prices. We were about to give up when he found something on the sale table for his brother. He was trying to do the math and decided this was what he wanted. We walked around some more and he found something cheaper for his brother, so he chose that to have more money for his parents’ gifts. Smart thinking going on here. He found some things he knew his parents would use, one of his criteria, and handed over his $20 bill. With the discount, he had $3 and change left, so I suggested we go to the Dollar Store to buy presents for his grandparents, since he knew what he wanted for them.

The Dollar Store is a miracle of bargains for someone on a budget and he found what he wanted immediately. He also found something for me, but didn’t want me to see it, so I gave him some change to cover taxes and hid in the car. He was so proud of himself. He had done all his shopping in less than 45 minutes, even counting driving several miles in 5:00 traffic, and stayed basically within his budget.

His next concern was hiding the gift. . .like all of us would be tearing his room apart to see what we’re going to get. I was the same way because I was a gift snooper myself. Can’t wait to see what the perfect useful gift was for me!

There’s not much cuter than watching kids learning the joy of giving and giving from their heart. Whatever we end up with really doesn’t matter. I need to check the progress of a few more grandkids in their shopping, hoping a couple more need my help. It’s one of the sweetest things about the holidays.


One of my mother’s great passions was collecting antiques.  Growing up poor in the Great Depression fueled her enjoyment and appreciation of the things the rich people had, which is not to say she was a snob.  She never forgot what her life was like and helped so many people over the years, but she learned to appreciate the beauty, craftsmanship and history of beautiful pieces.  She taught me a lot when I was first married…mainly the fun of getting a bargain.  Or something that “gladdens your heart,” as she said.  Especially if that thing was a bargain to boot.  She loved estate sales, auctions, and antique stores and became friends with many of the owners.  For one thing, she loved the stories about the items, the history of the pieces.  She became quite a sophisticated buyer, bargainer and bidder through the years, ending up with some pretty gorgeous pieces.  I tended more towards English pieces and she liked the more formal French, but we were both pretty eclectic.  For her, getting the piece was part of the game.  Years later, when I had a retail store, she had a keen eye for what would sell and what was a keeper from the new items on the market.

I got my dining table, 6 chairs, and a matching buffet at an auction with her when I was about 22 years old.  I paid a whopping $150, which I had to borrow from her and pay back.  I was newly-wed and still in college and she had to store it at her house, using it for awhile, until I had a house for it.  Over the years, she often commented on how the set got prettier to her every year.  It was that bargain, I’m sure.  I’m not sure I would have even picked these items out, but they have served our family well over the past 40+ years as they served the families before us.  That was another thing she taught me – that antiques appreciate rather than depreciate.  Usually, that is.  It’s also recycling, although she didn’t mention that.



For the past two days, I worked at an estate sale. I spend more than I make, so it’s not a real job, but, it’s fun to see the things in the sale and all the people who come through.  Many observations came to mind.  First is that the majority of the people who come are about my age or older.  I’m guessing that it’s a combination of all the things that made my mother go to them.  It’s getting out of the house, running into friends, looking for bargains, seeing what you already have is worth, adding to a collection and finding a treasure you can’t live without.  There’s such a variety in an estate sale – everything in a house and based on the owner’s taste and what the family hasn’t taken out.  Dealers rush in first to scout for the really unique and see what they can come back to get at bargain prices on the last day…one dealer called himself the Buzzard because he swoops in at the end for the real bargains.

Such a shopping spree…where else are you going to find silver services and fine crystal,


replacement parts for your kitchen items, along with cookbooks that are out of print that you want to give someone,


pressed glass for your friend who collects it,


a miniature scuttle, which we decided was used for cigars, although we didn’t really know and loved it anyway,


lovely oil paintings at bargain prices,


unusual wicker pieces,


an old stamp collection, along with books,


old family photographs (this horrifies me),


and, my favorite, an antique iron.


The iron was a source of constant conversation as we saw how it heated up with flame and then had to be picked up with a cloth or potholder wrapped around the hot, hot handle.  On top of that, I could barely lift it.  Imagine trying to plop that down on a piece of clothing and move it over the area without scorching.  Wow!  We all had a greater appreciation of our light electric steam and spray irons and for the women who had to wrestle these monsters!

The comments I heard over and over were “omigod, my house looks like this.  I need to clean things out,” followed by “I have to have that,” and “my kids don’t want any of my things.”  Having cleaned out my mother’s home, after she had cleaned out a lot of it herself, I learned what she had already taught me when she cleaned out homes for relatives and friends.  You can’t imagine how much is in there until you have to touch every item in every drawer, shelf and closet.  On the other hand, cleaning out her things taught me a lot about her and brought back many memories.  It can be a healing thing.

On the comments about our kids not wanting our things, I have a few suggestions.  My mother left us with a list of the things in her house and where and  she got them, who the artist was, and what she paid for them – the provenance, so to speak.  It was invaluable.  It didn’t mean we had to love it like she did, but it kept us from selling it as a piece of junk in a garage sale.  I was working on a list like that for my kids, but it’s tedious.  My grandson is going to help me videotape everything, with me telling the story of the item so my family will know why it meant anything to me or if it’s valuable or not.  After that, I assume they will also treasure it or send it along to a proper new home, recycling it once again.

I don’t know what the newest generations will like or want, but I love the history of my old and new things.  I’m hoping that I live long enough to pass some down to my grandkids as they launch into their adult lives, as my mother did for my children.  The history of some of these items has passed through other families and is now part of my family’s history.  Except for those many things that will end up in my estate/garage sale one of these days.  Hope someone enjoys plowing through my treasures looking for a treasure of their own.  One of these days.  I’m not ready to part with my stuff yet…