By Cait Collins
Spring is here and with it comes garage sale season. Last Saturday, the residential areas of Amarillo, Texas sported garage sale and estate sales. Some streets were a bit congested as cars lined both sides of the streets. That’s the negative aspect of the season. Truth is these events can be a great place to find bargains and inspiration.
Never pass up glassware and pottery displays. Many sellers do not realize they have valuable pieces of Depression glass or antique pottery. Certain brands and styles bring back memories. I’m editing a novel set in a small Texas town. The house described in the story hadn’t changed much since Grady and Lucille Walker moved in. So when I began describing Miss Lucille’s kitchen, I filled it with garage sale finds; like green Sandwich glass, Fiestaware, Franciscan china, McCoy cookie jars, and Fire King bowls and kitchen utensils.
Farm house tables and chairs, massive gas or wood burning stoves, Frigidaire refrigerators, pie cabinets, TV lamps, crystal candy dishes, porcelain elves, tri-fold mirrored vanities, and crocheted doilies helped me establish the old home.
I also look at jewelry. I’m floored at the value of vintage jewelry, but good pieces do sell. So you’re writing about a lady from the 1940’s and 50’s. How would you dress her? Would she wear a broach on her jacket? What colors would she wear? What about hats, gloves, and lace handkerchiefs? Check out an estate sale. You will find some gems.
Look at the book shelves. If you are building a personal library, you could find some great out-of print volumes. Make sure the pages are not water stained. You don’t want to carry home mold or mildew. What was your favorite Little Golden Book? I looked for quite a while before I found a couple of my favorites. These little books were great readers and often used when my Dad would gather my sisters and I in the big arm chair for our bedtime story.
Items of interest to men could be old fishing gear, sporting equipment, woodworking equipment, or tools. Back in the day, men wore business attire, ties, dress shirts, and suits. So, you just might find the perfect suit for your hero or your villain.
Not all research requires hours spent in dusty stacks. While that is important, a morning or an afternoon exploring yard sales provides great exercise and a chance to look through older household goods, apparel, or accessories. The time spent examining an old bamboo fishing pole, or an old great coat may provide the spark the cements a character or a period of time. It’s well worth the effort