Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The last sales of 2009? 12/5/09

The end of the year is often a somber time in the realm of yard sales. The weather turns cold and dreary, the days grow short and the approaching holidays distract sellers from their goals of ridding their homes of clutter.
Today I found a bit more in than I expected. But the end does appear in sight.

Cambridge Ave. Oakhurst “Yard Sales”

It was in the low 40’s maybe even colder in the shade when I came upon this sale in the southern Decatur Oakhurst community. The seller clad in a hooded jacket knew he was pushing the limits as he shivered on his porch while awaiting buyers for the gathered belongings in his driveway. He admitted that he should have done the sale earlier in the season but decided to go ahead with it anyway. But he told me the he had experienced a fair amount of business before he was ready to open.
Among the stuff for sale was a collection of penguin items that appeared well suited for the cold climate. There was a box full of plush penguins, a penguin game, some sort of child’s penguin costume (even thought it appeared no children lived in this home) a game called the Penguin Shuffle that billed itself as the ”motorized waddle walkin’ slippery slide game“ a party penguins punch bowl set and some smaller ceramic novelty flightless birds.
Other stuff put out in the driveway included a large painting of a red pepper, old computer accessories, lamps, an unopened box set of “Queer as Folk”, a Kate Bush DVD, an electric pumpkin carving tool, some baskets and a plush spider monkey.
I bought nothing.

Box of plush penguins.

Across the street on the porch of a brick bungalow was another sale. This one featuring the belongings of someone what at one time had a store or antique flea market booth. Everything here was quaint and antique like and nothing appeared to have been used by the actual owners of the house. While I am not attracted to such sales unless they feature really bizarre stuff such as large taxidermy sharks and artificial limbs this sale at least had pleasant well thought out arrangements. Most of the fodder here was the usual old toys, dolls, prints and décor items. But a large lamp made from a large Kahlua bottle did attract my attention. Liquor bottle lamps are a subject that requires more study on my part as I have often wondered what thinking goes into determining if an empty booze bottle is lamp worthy.

Big Kahlua lamp

Howard St. - Kirkwood “Yard Sale”

This large sale in front of a large two manor house is more or less a perennial sale. My justification for calling it that is that the sign is reused about every six months and a lot of the same goods are put out in the yard. I considered just driving past but I noticed a sled under the sign. Since there were warnings of possible snow flurries (just flurries not accumulation) I had to give the seller credit for using the sled to attract business. This time the seller appeared to have a lot more camo clothing than in past sales. Repeated items included two stoves placed in the middle of the lawn. I took a photo then thanked the seller for his nice display and bought nothing.

Knox St. Grant Park “Moving Sale”

This sale was sensibly inside a small house located on a dead end street. The real estate sign in the yard said ”I am larger than I look” I was not sure if this referred to the selling agent or the home. But it may have been the later since the home did appear larger once I ventured past the miniscule living room. At the time I arrived the estate was nearly depleted and a few Latino families were walking off with what little remained of the home’s furnishing. I did find a framed drawing a disturbed young girl in a back room. Other than this there was not much left to buy and I bought nothing.

Art found in nearly empty house.

Hobart Dr. Grant Park “Moving Sale”

My final stop of the day was inside a tiny house on the south end of Grant Park. The sale was instigated by the economy as the seller was being forced to move, as her landlord was moving back into this property due to the downturn in the real estate market. The host of the sale was an artist who creates robot like sculptures from found objects. She desperately needed to weed her collection of old hardware and mechanical devices to move into a smaller space. She had already cleared a considerable amount of her assemblage ingredients by the time I arrived. But the small living room still contained a large collection of old audio-visual devices including dated slide and film projectors, old speakers and various mechanical items rescued from scrap heaps. One stand out† item in the home was a life-sized model of a human spine. More run of the mill items needed to be gotten rid of included books, Cds and some outdated computer hardware.
I bought nothing but sympathized with the spatial issues of creating art from discarded materials.

A yard sale with backbone.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

One more yard sale...My own! 11/20/09

For too many years of my life I’ve gone to yard sales. In the past five years I’ve documented week by week my experiences at sales in this web site. But for all my infatuation with other people’s stuff I disdain having yard sales of my own stuff. There are many reasons for this the primary principle being that if I am hosting a sale I can’t go to whatever other sales are happening. There is also the factor that I don’t know if I am making good decisions about what I am getting rid of. But after weeks of consideration I decided to gather my unwanted and unneeded belongings and place them in my yard for all to see and hope to end the day with some cash and lots more room in my home. Clutter has been accumulating at my home. Like most Americans it is inevitable. Even thought my byword has been “I bought nothing” things have been creeping in and slowly taking away what free space I have in my home. I also wanted to apply my long over due “two year policy”. The rule states, if I have not used something in two years then it’s time to get rid of it. Thus anything packed away, stored under the bed, stuffed into a closet or rotting away in my storage shed must be divested. In truth there was a lot of stuff that was far over the two-year limit.
Accumulation happens insidiously. It creeps up on you month after month. The clothing I put on sale had been in the back of my closet taking up room. The bulk of it was shirts I had bought over the years at yard sales as well as thrift stores. Some were too large, others too small, some hung poorly others appeared perennially wrinkled. Over the past few years getting dressed I would grab one of these shirts out of the closet put it on, look at myself then recall why I did not like it. I would then place the item back on its hanger where it remained ill fitting and wrinkled for months to come. Hard goods in my home had a different staying power. Until the recent deluge and monsoon like raining season began I had kept a closet full of electronics that ran from a small audio mixer to assorted old camera gear in a small closet. The increase in moisture resulted in a wild outbreak of mildew that threatened the life and value of these objects. For the past two months a dresser in our spare bedroom was covered in these items as I sought a refuge from the mold attack. I considered that most of the stuff was most profitable if sold on EBay but I never got around to posting an ad. So the mixer, some camera gear, a guitar tuner and various other gadgets went into the sale pile.
A bit different was the collection of commemorative plates I had stashed away in a high kitchen cabinet. I had a difficult time determining if there was any value associated with the commemorative plates. Perusing pages of EBay sales I had no grasp if my plate for Christus Gardens had any worth or if there was a market for it. (If the Gatlinburg roadside religious site goes out of business perhaps the value will increase). Other plates in my collection celebrate Pocahontas, Iowa and The Durham North Carolina Centennial. These among a dozen others I would lovingly display them on a table on my front porch, as they were items of rare beauty. I had a few oddities a machete in a hand tooled leather case from panama that we inherited from Cindy’s father, a painting of zombies and cockroaches (I had purchased this for my yard sales show at the Atlanta Contemporary Arts Center a few years ago) and the Mary Mag Powrs magnetic doll house. I had purchased this about a year ago with the intention of creating some artwork from it. I also had a lot of the usual fodder I see divested every week a redundant inkjet printer, tennis rackets, a cassette deck, cassette tapes, CDs and books.

The largest and most space consuming item I needed to get rid off was a collection of blow mold Christmas figures. I have not displayed the set in over two years and they were beginning to become decrepit while in storage. Worse among them was an old plastic Santa that squirrel had built a nest inside of while it was stored in the rafters of the backyard shed. I was once proud of this display and at one time they were pictured in Creative Loafing in an article on bad Xmas décor. But our front yard landscaping had changed and we could no longer properly exhibit them. In addition I no longer cared to provide such elegant housing for tree rodents.
I spent most of the week sorting the clutter. Friday evening I priced and sorted and placed stuff by the door and some on my screen in porch.
I had been discussing my sale plans on Facebook for over a week. I did not place a Craiglists ad until early Saturday morning and around 7:30 I sent Cindy out to place 4 or 5 posters on utility poles around the neighborhood.
I had the good pretty much assembled in my front yard and on my porch by 7:30. The signs and warned early birds to stay away as the sale was to open at 9 A.M. While I was ready I still wanted time to contemplate the sale take photos and relax.
The first early bird showed up a few minutes before eight. He was a crazed looking bearded man driving a SUV (but aren’t they all). When he approached I told him we open at eight. He stared at me with a crazed look and said “don’t you want to sell these things”. I replied, “yes after nine please come back them” He stood his ground and gave me a hateful look. I told him to leave. Cindy then went inside, as the tension appeared to escalate. Get off my property I demanded. He turned and left for his vehicle, but then he began cruising around the block giving me threatening looks as he passed. He continued doing this for fifteen minutes when he did not show up again I presumed he was tearing down our signs.
We did open a little before nine and a healthy stream of far more sane appearing individuals descending upon the sale. My first sale was to a reseller who purchased the machete, an animal cage and a few other items. I spoke with him about his business. He told me he made a fair income from reselling but admitted the business was getting harder with less good stuff appearing and more competition at sales. He primarily sold thru online ads but only sold locally. He experienced some bad experiences dealing with shipping and payment from remote customers. While he bought all manner of odds and ends his main interest was military memorabilia and jewelry. He did find on old brass emblem from a sergeant’s hat in a box of cheap jewelry I had.

The event turned into a more social affair by mid morning when friends arrived. I had wished I had gone the extra effort and prepared Irish Coffees for those visiting since I am such a fan and supporter of sales featuring alcoholic beverages. But in my haste to set up I had forgotten the evening before to purchase the proper ingredients.
The social aspects for me were the most redeeming portions of the sale. I also found it was harder to document a sale while I was also hosting it. I was somewhat disappointed in the quality of work I shot by days end. Perhaps I was expecting more. I made a little less than I expected but made enough to cover the cost of flying to West Palm Beach for the holidays. (Ground cost not included). I did not sell the nativity set on Saturday but someone did call and purchased it on Sunday. The remaining stuff went to the street and to Value Village.
I fell cleansed and redeemed to have gotten rid of this stuff. As I write weeks later I have no regrets. But I did keep the commemorative plates they are back hiding in a high kitchen cabinet. I may display them one day.

Wisemen that no longer fit in front yard.

Properly labeled old electronic device.

Machete and baby Jesus lovingly displayed.

Happy buyer of Xmas decor.

Buyers documenting the sale of Cindy Zarrilli artwork.

New owner of Baby Jesus.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Searching for a tree 11/7/09

This morning I talked Cindy into coming along with me on my neighborhood junket of yard sales. I needed to fine some materials to make a Christmas Tree from recycled materials (a fancy word for discarded crap) for the Forever Green, GreenArt Eco-Tree show at Whitespace Gallery next month. Cindy had already fashioned a holiday creation out of old bamboo blinds and a reed footstool. I figured this morning was my last good chance to find something.

Our fist stop was a sale on McLendon Ave. a few blocks from our home. Like nearly every sale within the neighborhood I had been to a sale here before. The small yard was covered in a variety of clutter ranging from a pet cage to women’s clothing to an unopened package of gummy bacon. Hung in a tree was a Fender Stratocaster and one of those plastic guitars used in a popular video games were next to it was a toy pistol and a wig. I figured I could not find enough toy pistols to fashion an entire Xmas display so we bought nothing.

Heading towards Decatur we stopped at a sale on Harold Byrd Avethat advertised in Craigslist that everything was free. It was kinda spooky when we got there for in the front driveway there appeared to be an abandoned garage sale. No one was in sight but the sale had a certain orderliness to it that made it seem as thought the sellers had just suddenly vanished. In the driveway was a recliner, some fireworks, an empty box that had once contained books, an orange pylon, a school desk, a beer stein and a guide for parents.
I considered taking the fireworks but Cindy felt they might be tampered with.
I took a Pentel silver marker. Maybe I could draw a tree.
We briefly stopped by a very boring estate sale on Scott Blvd. I had been to a sale here last year and it was equally boring. How boring was the sale? All I can remember was seeing s a hot water bottle and a bible. We bought nothing.
We spent some time looking for sales in East Lake and Oakhurst. After driving around looking for an estate sale in East Lake we came to this small brick home that stank of mildew. Only two rooms were open and the mostly contained dresses owned by an elderly woman and a lot of ceramic geese and swans. I felt the air in the home to be dangerous to my health and left without so much as taking one photo of a ceramic swan.
A sale in front of a large frame bungalow in Oakhurst was more promising. I purchased an umbrella thinking if I found about six more I could fashion some sort of tree from them. I was most impressed that the seller still had ample amounts of Halloween décor in her yard.
Our journey continued into Virginia Highland and Morningside where we encountered a house with this massive dummy that was part of some sort of laser tag game in front of it. The dummy was wearing a witch hat. I considered adding branches to the dummy but that was too over the top even for me. A sale in nearby morning side had a lot of very overpriced décor items none of which I could afford to turn into art. But they did have a lovely pair of golden slippers sitting atop a brass table. Under different circumstances that alone could have been an installation.
Our final stop was a house in Candler Park near little five points that I have been to at least three times in the past. The seller has come to recognize me as soon as I exit the car with camera in hand. There was really not much new here since the last sale aside from a wonderful painting of a horse. But as luck would have it I found a box full of sample floor tiles, each with a little hole in them. Cindy then insisted I by this wooden trellis which when inverted created the shape of a pine tree. I bought both took them home and fashioned the creation seen here. The show opens at Whitespace on December 3rd.

Golden slippers on a bronze table.

Equine portrait in Candler Park.

The finished tree adorned with floor tile samples.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Saturday 10/16/09

Cindy told me this morning that I was spending far too much time looking at the same sales and the same stuff in our neighborhood. Looking back I found Cindy to be correct in recent months neighbors on nearby streets have almost come to expect me showing up with camera in hand. At one sale the seller remarked the “ I thought I guy that photographed yard sales was just a local legend” when I arrived with camera in hand to documented her clutter. Regardless I have taken a certain pride in saying that I seldom venture more than three miles from my home. So this morning I tried to avoid spending all my time really close to home and venture to the edge of the three-mile limit.

Page Ave.- Candler Park “Yard Sale”
(3 blocks from home)
This was not a great sale and it did convince me to get outside the immediate neighborhood. Much of the contents here were clay works created by one of the sellers. There were also some household items and kitchenwares. One of the few remarkable items were several pairs of striped prison pants used as props in “Media goes to Jail” This is the second week in a row I have encountered used movie props for sale. While its good to see more film work in this city perhaps the industry is down on its luck if the props are put on sale shortly after the films release.
I considered the pants for a Halloween costumes but decided against it since there were no matching prison shirts and it has been getting cold lately. The seller also had some ancient Egyptian clothing but this was even scantier and we already have pharaoh-wear.
I bought nothing.

Medea or at least someone in a movie with Medea wore these.

Wavery Way – Inman Park “Yard Sale”
(1.5 miles from home)

This was the site of several sales I have been to in the past three years and some of the same stuff I had encountered in the past showed up again. The sale was being held for some charity I’ve forgotten the name of. It consisted of a driveway lined with tables of old clutter along with goods scattered on the pavement.
Feeling a sense of déjà vu (again) about this stuff I did not send a lot of time her but did come across a copy of Helen Gurley Brown’s LP “Lessons in Love”. The recording is a document of a forgotten era of sexuality with cuts entitled “How to behave at home when you’re misbehaving away from home” and “Getting the most from your secretary”
I’m not sure if the Cosmo editor sings or if it is a spoken word album.

Boulevard – Old 4th Ward “Yard Sales”
(3.5. mile from home)
In the parking lot of a small resale shop near Atlanta Medical Center several tables were set up in the form of a small flea market. I normally avoid these types of sales but decided to drop in anyway. One seller gave me a cup of hot cocoa so I felt obliged to stay awhile and peruse the merchandise. At one table a woman had a large sign for an elementary school. She told me it was a prop for a movie. More props I thought this is getting to be a regular thing. I also enjoyed the trailer full of jumbled goods stacked in the parking lot in the shadow of downtown sky scrapers.
I bought nothing.

Another movie prop.

Argonne Ave. Midtown “Epic Yard Sale”
(4 mile from home)

The hyperbola of this sale put me in a good frame of mind. I was several neighborhoods removed from Lake Claire and four miles made things seem different. The sale was not that big just a moderate amount of stuff meticulously arranged in a small front yard. Among an array of neatly lined up kitchenwares I encountered a box of very dangerous looking martial arts weapons. The seller said that people kept giving him these things. I had the seller pose with some sharp objects.
Also at the sale was a small vibrating brown paper bag entitled “Thing in a Bag” they gave me a demonstration of it’s movement across a table while I visited.
I bought nothing.

The seller said people kept giving him books like this.

The vibrating thing in a bag.

Greenwood Ave. – Searsview “Loft Sale”
(3.5 miles from home)
This was a sale in the parking lot of a converted commercial building now being sold as upscale lofts. When I began taking pictures of the accumulated clutter (most of which was new stuff) one shopper started posing with her dog trying to get her pet to lick her face in the photo. Other sellers had dogs as well but they were not posing. Among the clutter golf clubs, tote bags, carpets throw pillows and candles.
I bought nothing.

More dogs at loft sale.

It's about me. Item lying on the pavement on Greenwood Ave.

Greenwood Ave. – Virginia Highlands “Yard Sale” (3 miles from home)
This as a lot of older and dirtier stuff that appeared to be pulled out of a damp basement. While I appreciated the jumble of clutter here I’ve seen too much dampness in the last few weeks.
I bought nothing.

St. Charles – Virginia Highlands “Moving Sale”
(3 miles from home)
This home may be the last unrestored home in the neighborhood. The seller was very nice but was pressuring me a bit too much to by the rolls of photo backdrop paper he had for sale. All the stuff in his yard was old - old furniture, an old bicycle, old books, old Tupperware, old TV. While I liked the sale as a bit of a throwback to old Virginia Highlands I also found it a bit depressing. Worth nothing was the sign on the back of the old pickup truck for the sale was converted from a sign for a tap dance studio. Sadly there were no tap shoes to be found here.
I bought nothing.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A few small sales and one man’s domain…. 10/3/09

There was not a lot going on this morning and for reason I cannot recall at this time I was not in any way organized to encounter whatever treasures and surprises might await me. My first stop was several small totally unmemorable sales on Elmira St. Where I encountered boxing gloves, old VHS tapes (aren’t they all old at this time) a child’s rendering of Electricity on canvas, some old televisions and a sump pump. Considering that only two weeks ago the city was flooding I consider the sump pump the most notable find of the batch. Considering this its remarkable I recall anything.

In Decatur on Melrose Pl. there was a far more interesting sale where a man was selling off a number of movie props including faux whiskey bottles and some old ugly luggage from the film “We Are Marshall”. I don’t know who would want to own old ugly 70’s style baggage from a film depicting the plane crash of a sports team, perhaps fans of aircraft disasters? He also had signs and stickers from some other film that would allow anyone to turn your car into a Washington DC cab. On a table was a collection of miniature furniture. To the best of my knowledge it was not used in a remake of The Incredible Shrinking Man.
I bought some miniature floor coverings for some unknown reason and another buyer gave me some card stock she had purchased. I will use it for making new library cards.

After driving around through light rain and failing to find several advertised sales I came across a self-claimed estate sale in Morningside. The sale was a dreadful collection of stuff not even worth photographing in the garage of a new infill house. But I did notice that their sale sign had been retrofitted from an old John McCain campaign sign.

Vedado Way – Midtown “Collectors Estate Sale”
When I approached this house I anticipated that it would be one of those homes filled with antiques run by an antique gallery owner wanabee. Inside it appeared to be what I had suspected but something seemed to be off. The walls covered in far too many painting and the shelves and mantels bedecked in a countless assortment of objects d’art seem to be part of a home that was lived in. After perusing the home I spoke to an older, near toothless gentleman seated on the front porch. He told me that this was indeed a house that had been lived in and that the massive collection inside was that of a Dr. Smith (no relation to the Dr. Smith of Lost in Space fame) a bon vivant who loved buying things. Upon a second tour of the domicile I noticed that the late physician had a special knack for picking of images of men in all forms. While not lewd (but some perhaps slightly suggestive) it was a collection to behold and I was sorry I did not come buy two days earlier when the sale began. For on that day said Dr. Smith’s acquaintance remarked the place had three-times as much stuff as was displayed today. While the male images stood out there was considerable more stuff in this home old medical magazines, bags of silverware, yellowed appliances with large NO signs taped to them, a selection of old military uniforms and many leather bound books.
On a fine antique piano was a portrait of the estate owner. I told the gentleman on the porch I had initially mistaken it for a photograph of Tennessee Williams.
I bought nothing.

Inside the home of Dr. Smith.

Appliances not for sale.

Figurines found in estate.

Old medical ephemera.

Collected uniforms of nearly all branches of the armed services.

The late Dr. Smith, not Tennessee Williams upon the piano.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Community sales gone mild 9/29/07

For some reason whenever there are community wide yard sale event I feel compelled to go and spend several hours perusing an endless collection of small meager sales. I don’t know why this is. I should know better. There is seldom anything notable. My defense of these events is that they are not just a conglomeration of small tedious yard sales but a true community event that brings neighbors together. Community event yes but yard sale affection ado and musician James Kelly put it this way when he commented in Facebook “..."...these big organized neighborhood yard sales are set up by yuppies trying to get rid of their useless unwanted wedding gifts, and TONS of baby stuff. A waste of time...".
Today my own neighborhood of Lake Claire claimed to have 75 sales (I did not bother to count them) and neighboring Druid Hills also had a similar event as well.

This was the first highly organized event of this kind for Lake Claire. I like my neighborhood; it’s a locale of aging bohemians mixed with upscale younger families. We have the lots of green space ranging from Frazier Forest, several city parks and the Community Land Trust. There is a sound to my neighborhood, from front porch I can hear aging hippie bands playing Doobie Brothers tune, the staccato endless rhythm of drum circles, the lonesome cries of train whistles and the call of “table for party of six” outside the Flying Biscuit. It’s a pleasant place to live. This weekend I wish the 75 yard sales were as pleasant as the sounds of my neighborhood.
I think I started off the wrong way. Atlanta had just gotten over days of torrential flooding rains and the Air was densely humid and warm. Warmer and more humid than I was prepared for when I left the house thinking I could cover the event on bicycle. After one block of ho hum sales I was drenched in sweat and spending more time getting on and off the bike to make it worthwhile. In the first five sales that I visited on bike I did not see one memorable thing worth photographing. Not wanting this to be more painful then it needed to be I retreated to the comfort of my Camry and cruised to the sales with the air conditioning blasting. The more I toured the area the more James Kelly’s words range true. Except that the toys far outnumbered the wedding presents. Most sales were so meager they dropped from my memory shortly after I left the premises. But while the goods were nondescript the multitudes of lemonade stands were notable. One on my street was made to resemble a tree others were simpler. But all had child-crafted charm and did offer cooling refreshment on this humid morning or boring sales.
Some photos depicting what I encountered.

Is the ladder part of the water slide?

This is from a little know Christian sect that has a nativity sans Holy Family.

Lincoln and handgun together again!

Lemonade stand with canine host.

Wetsuit and Impala for sale.

Yuppie humor?

Druid hills was not much better. I’ve documented this annual event several times in the past five years but this year after the countless sales in Lake Claire my energy was drained. This was made worse since the first two sales I attempted were at the top of steep driveways that were nearly a quarter mile long. In addition by the time I reached most of the Druid Hills sales all the interesting stuff had been taken away. But I was happy to see the house with the two furbies once again and the seller remembered me from past visits. She said she’s considering selling the ugly talking toys on eBay.

Children's costumes in the Druid Hill

They're ugly, they talk and you can't sell them - Furbies.