The Garage Sale Review: Painted cats and yard sale cuisine


This sign, which utilizes a pirate theme, is just one example of irresistible garage sale advertising. Yard sale signs are an invaluable tool for enticing garage sellers, especially if they're done right.
This sign, which utilizes a pirate theme, is just one example of irresistible garage sale advertising. Yard sale signs are an invaluable tool for enticing garage sellers, especially if they're done right.

Greetings my friends!

I’m pleased to say that this week’s expedition into the eclectic had a more absolute and complete feel to it than previous trips. It was almost as if a missing piece of the strange, perplexing puzzle that is Austin garage sale culture had been found. And what emerged from imperfection was spectacular. What I’m trying to say here is Gillian Rhodes — photographer, Daily Texan comics artist and now my partner in The Garage Sale Review — returned from studying abroad in Belize and joined me on Saturday’s quest.

What we found was breathtaking. Or, if you don’t consider old skateboards, a bunch of retro watches like the ones your Dad probably wore, a weird cat book and a mystical Ecuadorian flea-market souvenir breathtaking, then at least our finds might be thought of as “interesting” (said with finger quotes). Also, we received our first lesson in how to market a garage sale with aggressive garage sale signs. Believe me, the dog-eat-dog world of garage sale advertising is as cutthroat as you think it is.

OK, let’s get this done with.

View The Garage Sale Review: 6/27/2011 in a larger map

Our first stop was the lovely yard sale of Dee and Jim. The couple, seen in the photo above holding the book “Why Paint Cats,” was recently married and they decided to get rid of all their combined stuff in a garage sale. Dee told me that between the two of them, they had more than a century’s worth of accumulated junk. So what else is there to do but have a yard sale? As Dee so lovingly put it, “We have a hundred years of stuff. When you have a hundred years of stuff you’ve got to ask yourself what you’re going to get rid of, the relationship or the stuff?” I think I might use that little pearl of wisdom for my epitaph, Dee.

Anyway, Gillian and I scavenged through the cast-off material possessions of Dee and Jim’s marriage and came away with a pretty tremendous find: a book entitled “Why Paint Cats: The Ethics of Feline Aesthetics” by Heather Busch. 

I’ve got to hand it to Ms. Busch, she’s created one of the better collection of photos of painted cats that I’ve seen. For example, check out that kitty with the butterfly painted on its face (pictured above), straight from the golden cover of Ms. Busch’s magnum opus.

Wow. And for $1? What a steal. Well, actually, $1 is a little pricey for a paperback garage sale book. But considering that the same book is going for $12.91 on Amazon, I’ll take two. And after seeing some of those pictures, I’ll take a complimentary PETA lawsuit while I’m at it.

2102 Ford Street

The second garage sale we went to was being operated by Carol and her husband Phil, a couple of garage sellers who were moving because taxes in their neighborhood were too high. When asked about any interesting items they might have for sale, Carol pointed us towards a little souvenir that she had bought while traveling in Quito, Ecuador. Neither Gillian nor myself were in need of Ecuadorian handicrafts, but Phil and the Latin American doodad made for a good photo, so hey, why not?

On our way out we spotted a jagged, cosmic animal sculpture that seemed like it might have an interesting story. Carol told us she had bought it in Mexico, but she couldn’t remember much about the little guy or how much she had paid for him. She asked Phil about how much it had cost and Phil dryly advised to “call Tesoros, they’ll tell you.” True dat, Phil.

2906 Burning Oak Drive
When I saw the signs that advertised a “Kick Butt” yard sale with “sausage, stuff and lemonade” I knew we were in for a treat. Garage sale food — how exciting! It’s not too often that you stumble upon some delicious yard sale cuisine, so if you get the opportunity, jump on those noms with gusto. Garage sale shoppers are notoriously vigilant when it comes to hunting down deals, and that goes double for garage sale sausage. Don’t let that mystery meat pass you by.

We followed the signs until we found the house where the fabled sausage and stuff resided and asked Brad and Stacey, the garage sellers, how they were. Brad gave back a hearty “I don’t know, you’re going to have to tell me when you fill your car up with our crap.” Uh-oh. It looked like we had met our match.

Brad and Stacey informed us that they didn’t have any sausage left (I told you — that garage sale meat goes fast), but they did offer to show us some old skateboards and customized garage sale signs.

Apparently, the two had recently been combatants in a recent garage sale sign battle in which their sign, which advertised “stuff,” went head-to-head with another garage sale’s sign that advertised “better stuff.” An arms race ensued, and the signs that Brad, Stacey and their kids made escalated to the point of nuclear weapon signs like “Sard Yale” (with the “S” and the “Y” transposed, you see) and “Mustaches for sale” (which refers to the deal where you pay to have one of Brad and Stacey’s kids to draw a mustache on your face in Sharpie). What a bargain!

8110 Cattle Drive
Our final garage sale yielded the most incredible garage sale booty of the morning — a bunch of retro watches that probably every dad everywhere has worn at some point in their time as dads. Look at that one on the left down there. That’s a total dad watch. Although not particularly dadly, the other one has a calculator built into it. So yeah, count me in.

We met Bill (pictured above), who explained to Gillian and me that his mom buys stores out of their extra inventory and that she had recently acquired a lot of watches. There weren’t too many (about 10) when we arrived, but Bill claimed that he had about 300 at one point in time. 300 watches at $15 each? That’s quite the watch resale business, sir. Well, they were $15 each except for the two that he sold to Gillian and me.

Bill was OK with giving us those two watches (pictured above) for $10 (for both). I don’t care who you are, that’s a deal. And minimum haggling required!

OK, you junk junkies. Come back next week for more garage sales, and, if we’re lucky, more of that legendary garage sale sausage!

Correction: The Google Map originally embedded within this post was incorrect and was replaced at on 06/27/2011 at 11:28 a.m.