I’m Not a Writer – Just a Junker

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When Anna told me to take over her blog, she suggested that I write a post about her growing up, a post about myself and then something about whatever I wanted.

Instead of writing about her, I wrote about her brother. And I totally messed it up by forgetting to tell you that he’s also a PhD! So I wanted to make sure you knew that before we moved on. You can see that post here.

And back to today, where I’ve decided to tell you a little bit more about myself.

First of all, in case you didn’t notice, I am not a writer.

I always wanted to be, and I thought I might be one day – but the truth is; I am a junker.

As in thrift shops, Flea Markets, Goodwills, Garage and Estate Sales, curbs on trash day – the neighbor’s dumpster… it’s all fair game as far as I’m concerned.

My love of second-hand things began in college – because it was all we could afford. And now it’s just what I love.

I also worked as a school counselor for more than 30 years, so it’s always in my nature to try to help people. And today I’d like to help you take a look at yourself – and determine if you are ALSO addicted to garage sales (and dumpsters).

We addicts need to stick together, right?

10 Signs of a Garage Sale Addict

1. It’s all you want to do
I can’t explain what happens when I have an opportunity to attend a sale. It’s out of my control really.

But let’s just say that I can be in bed feeling like I’ve been run over by a truck and someone can call, or my husband will tell me about a sale, and I’m instantly energetic and getting in the car.

It makes me smile. It makes me happy. It’s possible that I’d rather hit a garage sale than do pretty much anything else.

2. You miss out on important life events because of sales
Okay – I never actually missed anything important. But I was almost late for Anna’s college graduation because I stopped at a garage sale on the way to the ceremony.

And I left my friend’s wedding reception for about an hour to make a quick visit to a sale I had seen on the way in. I went back to the reception, but my car was full of treasures!

3. Your house is “overflowing”
My kids talk about all my “stuff” behind my back (and in front of me). They try to get me to eat healthy and to take care of myself, and they say it’s because they want me around for the grandkids.

But I know the truth.

They are terrified that I will die, and they will be stuck with all my treasures.

My sister-in-law found a quote for me yesterday, and I am having it embroidered and framed. It reads:\

It’s Not Hoarding if it’s Organized.

4. You plan your day around them
Back when I was still working, I had a map of the neighborhoods surrounding the school where I worked. On Thursday nights, I would map out which sales I could attend on my lunch break on Fridays.

I packed my lunch and paced myself. I loved it! And every now and then I would find the perfect shirt to match a skirt I was wearing, and I’d do a quick wardrobe change before heading back to work.

Okay – sort of kidding there. Okay – it might be true. Okay – I’ve decided not to actually say one way or the other – but I certainly wouldn’t judge anyone for this.

5. You’re the best customer at your OWN garage sales
I don’t host my own garage sales anymore, but back when I used to – it’s possible that I would take the time to set everything out and then take half of it back inside as soon as someone expressed interest in buying it.

And – it’s also possible that my husband would walk around for weeks afterwards with $0.25 stickers on his shirts.

Notice that I said I don’t host my own garage sales anymore.

6. Garage sales comfort you like nothing else can
I cried all the way home – through the entire state of Ohio – when we dropped Anna off her freshman year of college. Until my husband found a massive antique sale next to a railroad depot.

I was instantly cured and even commented on what a good thing it was that we had gotten rid of Anna and all her things so we had room for the new, old stuff.

7. Your fondest memories of your children as babies – involve them at auctions
When Anna was around 2 years old, my grandmother and I took her to an auction.

She got caught up into the spirit of the auction (which is easy to do) and loudly yelled, “Raise that bid!”

The auctioneer actually took her bid, much to my embarrassment. And then he literally had to stop the auction when he realized that he had just accepted a bid from a toddler. We laughed and laughed.

And Anna wasn’t allowed to attend anymore auctions. (But her brother was, of course.)

8. You’re a weird guest at parties.
I’ll admit it – I turn my host’s dishes upside down to see their markings… and try to determine their value on eBay.

9. You know random details about TV shows and movies
Did you know that Aunt Bea in The Andy Griffith Show has Blue Ridge China in her white cupboard in the kitchen?

In some of the episodes it’s Blue Willow.

That makes me happy.

10. You start making life decisions based on your addiction
I had been thinking about retirement for years, but I could never make a decision. One afternoon, a little girl came to my office to tell me that her Grandma had died.

And my first thought was, “Will there be an estate sale?”

That’s when I knew it was probably time to retire.

So – is someone you love addicted to garage sales? Send them my way – maybe we can trade dumpster-diving secrets.


  1. thedoseofreality

    March 4, 2014 at 7:17 am

    I am grateful for the people like you Anna’s mom who make me no feel no guilt whatsoever for skipping garage sales…hey, more stuff for you! 😉

  2. Lisa

    March 4, 2014 at 7:53 am

    Not only are you collecting treasures, you are helping to save the environment by keeping perfectly good itms out of the landfills!

  3. Dona

    March 4, 2014 at 7:55 am

    Amen, Anna’s Mom!!! I love a good yard sale! Thrift stores? I could live there! Yeah, and no more having yard sales for me, either. Last one I had, I had a friend come and bring some of her stuff to sell. She made about $30. I made $2. TWO dollars. Yeah, forget it. But I kept some of that stuff and so glad I did!! So. Now. What about that book that Anna should write? You with me?

  4. My Special Kind of Crazy

    March 4, 2014 at 8:43 am

    I love love love flea markets! There is one called Luckett’s in VA which is awesome. Whenever I go my husband says “she’s going to the garbage dump”. What does he know??? I found awesome rose prints for my daughter’s nursery and a bunch of cool picture frames (that are still empty and in the closet). Never know when those will come in handy! Come to think if it, their spring festival should be soon….

  5. Melissa C

    March 4, 2014 at 10:07 am

    I’ve got two more, thanks to my mom grooming me since birth for this:
    You schedule your life around senior discount days at the thrift shops. My mom only shops at Goodwill on Wednesdays.
    And the buzz you get when you find a really great treasure, whether of monetary or sentimental value, can’t beat it!

  6. Patti J

    March 4, 2014 at 10:42 am

    Hi Anna’s Mom, last September I was in an antique shop. I had about a half hour to kill before my friend could go to lunch. There was this lady in there talking about her daughter. On and on she went, all about her blog and the beautiful post she wrote about Nanna. She told the girls behind the counter how, they needed to go to her blog and read all about Nanna and how many followers she had on FB. She wrote down the name of the blog on a piece of paper for them. After the lady left the store, I asked them what the name of the blog was. Thus, how I started following your daughters blog. I lost 2 weeks that month reading each and every post she had ever written. Crying and laughing hysterically. I found a different treasure that day in the antique store. Obviously, you have a booth there, because they kept asking you if you wanted to see your “envelope” and someone called on the phone and they asked them if they wanted them to look in their “envelope”, I found it all very funny. So Anna, all the while I was in the store eavesdropping on your Mother’s conversation, not once did she bring up your brother. Anna’s Mom I love your comments and blog posts and you’re just as funny as your daughter. And every time I drive past the coffee shop, I giggle.

  7. Anna's Mom

    March 4, 2014 at 1:09 pm

    Oh my goodness! I am sitting here with my mouth open!! Seriously! Yes – I do have a booth there and every once in awhile I go in and pretend to work in it – but obviously I just talk – and talk! So glad you are such a good eavesdropper!! My kids are not going to let me forget this one. I do tend to mention Anna’s Blog here and there 🙂 I must have been in a hurry to get somewhere or else you definitely would have heard a Nick update! Kidding Anna! – Maybe. Thanks so much for sharing this Patti – you have made my day!!

  8. Anna's Mom

    March 4, 2014 at 1:12 pm

    Oh thank you for not getting hooked – you are right – more stuff for me!! You are a strong woman to be able to resist.

  9. Anna's Mom

    March 4, 2014 at 1:13 pm

    I am so using this the next time I get criticized Lisa – saving the environment is such a worthy cause….my scientist son – have you heard about Nick? – will be so pleased.

  10. Anna's Mom

    March 4, 2014 at 1:14 pm

    Dona – I am so with you on the book thing!! We can keep working on her for sure!! And as a matter of fact – we just hit two thrift stores today and brought home a couple of things….so much fun indeed!! Love the story about you and your friend 🙂

  11. Anna's Mom

    March 4, 2014 at 1:16 pm

    I think you should start keep a list of all the money you have saved over the years – flea market price vs retail price. You could take a fabulous vacation on the money you save!!

  12. Anna's Mom

    March 4, 2014 at 1:18 pm

    How did I not know that Wed. was senior discount day? That will change my life! And I know all about the buzz believe me! Once you know the feeling you just have to have more. Oh. That’s probably why they call it addicting!!

  13. jhanis

    March 4, 2014 at 2:19 pm

    I held a garage sale about a year ago before we moves and have gotten a lot of weird looks from people wanting to buy stuff because half the time I would tell them that I changed my mind and not selling the item anymore! If my husband wasn’t there to intervene, I doubt if we sold anything!

  14. Anna's Mom

    March 4, 2014 at 3:53 pm

    You are definitely at risk Jhanis!! Welcome to the ranks!!

  15. Ken

    March 4, 2014 at 5:52 pm

    Hi Junker mom,
    Should mention that you have a big influence on others around you and that many of the treasures that you buy and re-sell become treasures of old friends. Some are treasures but some are……… fill in the blank. With that said old, MATURE friends still love you ANNA’s mom. But how about an Anna story!

  16. Cherie

    March 4, 2014 at 6:12 pm

    I’m looking for a table or a cupboard….
    (Fabulous job, Anna’s mom!)

  17. Anna's Mom

    March 4, 2014 at 10:45 pm

    Well…..I’m stuck on the Anna stories…..although I might surprise her with some rebuttals …..
    As far as filling in the blank, I would say some are treasures and some are just downright Fabulous Finds!!

  18. Anna's Mom

    March 4, 2014 at 10:47 pm

    Ha! That means a road trip for sure – and I have to buy the table you are getting rid of to make way for the new table you are going to fall in love with and have to buy!

  19. Terri

    March 4, 2014 at 11:01 pm

    Anna’s Mom, you are too awesome!! I have never been a yard sale junkie (but definitely a junkie!). My grandmother was a terrible addict though when I was young. She would come to our home and pick us up at 6am every Saturday morning to go hit up the garage sales. She would drag us around for hours and shop until there was no more room in the Jeep for my sister and I to sit. It’s possible she may have dropped my sister and I off with a family member once so she could go get more things….and it is possible I fell out of the back of the Jeep one time because I was sitting on top of all her findings when she hit a bump in the road and she didn’t notice I was gone until she got home and my sister (6 at the time) told her I fell down. Oh and don’t get me started on the KMart Blue Light Specials!!! LOL LOVING YOUR BLOG POSTS!!! You could totally rock a blog of your own!!!!

  20. Pingback: Having Fun at Work - My Life and Kids

  21. Beth Foyder

    March 5, 2014 at 10:40 am

    Don’t pay any attention to what Ken wrote. I love seeing all your treasures and love even more shopping w/you. Although I do wish you wouldn’t prattle on so much about the PHD kid. 😉

  22. Anna-but-not-your-Anna

    March 5, 2014 at 12:08 pm

    I took my one week old baby to a huge antique show, because uh, I didn’t want to miss it and I was nursing, so it seemed like the right decision. Can I tell you: so many nasty looks. I should’ve been rude right back, “You’re not a real junker! If you were, you’d understand!”

  23. Michelle

    March 6, 2014 at 9:21 am

    We were watching an episode of Emergency! last night and one of the firemen was struggling with an old fashioned rotary phone — Hubby and all four kids recognized it as identical to the one sitting on top of our television. And I’m the one who knew that the phone would’ve been brand new when that show was filmed, because mine’s got a manufacturing date stamped on the bottom.

  24. Her Royal Thighness

    March 6, 2014 at 10:59 am

    Okay, I totally see where Anna gets her sense of humor from! I’m cracking up at you shopping at your own garage sales, because my husband boxes watches over me like a hawk when we have a sale, to make sure I don’t reabsorb any of the stuff back into the house. And I am cracking up at your line about the little girl telling you her grandma died and you wondering if there would be an estate sale. We have to meet when I come back to Michigan next time. You and Christine and I can sit at Panera and laugh for hours!!!

  25. Her Royal Thighness

    March 6, 2014 at 11:04 am

    P.S. When I lived in NJ, two times a year they have a team come through to collect junk on the street. It’s when people put out everything from air conditioners and old windows to furniture! They’re called “junk days,” and during those days, people go “junking.” That’s right … twice a year, it’s completely socially acceptable to rifle through your neighbor’s garbage. I couldn’t believe the good stuff some of these rich people were throwing away, because they were too lazy to make a trip to Goodwill. I found bags of designer clothing that I washed and took over there myself, because it seemed like a crime to throw it away. Ialso took home a bunch of Little Tikes toys and sold them at my own garage sale. LOL!

  26. Queenmamaof3

    March 10, 2014 at 8:33 am

    I’m a thrift store junkie. I’ve found so many fun and useful things over the years. It all started when I was trying to save money on kid clothes that they were going to grow out of so fast. Then boys pants became nearly impossible to find second hand….without holes in the knees. I think they must chew on the knees of their pants or something, because there are tons of girls pants without holes, but forget about it with the boy pants. Anyway, I had to visit the other areas of the stores, and I became hooked. I haven’t been to a thrift store in a week now. I’m starting to get twitchy.

  27. Holly

    March 10, 2014 at 11:31 am

    Oh I love this post. I am in my 30’s and I am a dedicated junker. I cringe at paying full price because in the back of my mind I’m always considering what a similar item would go for at a thrift store.
    In Canada we have MCC Thrift Shops in some areas, run by Mennonites. They have AHmazing prices and in the last 1.5 years that they have been open I have made some crazy scores (Lululemon for $5 apiece anyone?). Basically my entire family is outfitted in pieces I’ve picked up along the way, and actually what I’m currently wearing is from there too. Costco Tuff Athletics Hoodie $1.25, GAP jeans $5.00 and t-shirt $1.25.

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