Confessions of an ‘early’ rummage junkie

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If I’d had any sense I would have started writing for this paper years ago.

I could really have used the free subscription.

When I tell people my home is furnished in Early Auction, they generally laugh and consider me quite the punster. In reality, that is very nearly true.

Nearly every stick of real furniture we own, save the sofa and mattresses, was purchased at an auction. When we set up housekeeping years ago we were long on love (and rooms) but short on cash. We quickly discovered that the kind of furniture our budget would afford was essentially disposable.

Plastic, veneer and faux wood vied for our cash — and construction acumen — since most pieces prominently touted that there would be “some assembly required.”

Realizing that we could score “formerly owned” furnishings for a song at auctions, we made a hobby out of hunting sales and picking up the pieces not good enough to merit antique status (or prices), but far better than anything new that we could otherwise afford.

I would later add rummage and yard sales to my repertoire.

Old and new

Lest you think I’m awash in clutter let me assure you I am the opposite of that. I’m fairly choosy about what comes into my home and have long employed an “in and out” mentality. If something new comes then something old goes.

I will not have my home flirting with an appearance on Hoarders thank you very much.

It has been years since our early auction days and today we can probably afford to shop retail if we don’t get too crazy about it.

Designer dreams

Yet, as the number of retailers seems to dwindle and big box stores take over the world, I find the pickings slim in the “new” world even when I have money to singe, if not outright burn.

I have been heartened at how easy it is to fulfill my designer dreams on a decidedly non-designer budget. Deciding that the perfect color for our master bedroom would be what I term “ball jar blue” — neither turquoise nor green — I would find that it is a color which apparently does exist in nature, but not in the minds of any major retailer.

Sales associates blink, yawn and inform me that “everyone likes baby blue or red right now.“

This made my search frustrating to say the least.

Then I wandered into a church basement and found the perfect throw in the perfect color — for $2. I’ve also been needing a new featherbed and wouldn’t you know it, they had that too ($5).

This will all coordinate nicely with the $1 candle holder I purchased some time ago that started it all. Adding to my haul were some sinfully soft sheets that I simply could not leave behind at the bargain price of $3.

Used

Yes, I buy used sheets. Please quell your gasps of horror.

I find that “formerly enjoyed textiles,” be they bedding, tea towels, tablecloths or clothing, are generally high quality to have made it thus far and I know at a glance if they are the evil kind that will pill.

I further presume that if they haven’t stretched or faded by the time they hit the sale table, it’s unlikely to happen on my watch. In fact, so hooked am I on consignment clothing and textiles that buying anything new makes me nervous.

The wear ability is suspect. Will it be scratchy? Shrink badly? Will the colors run?

Why risk it when you can purchase pre-loved name brands at a fraction of the retail costs — and risk? If you think about it, how sanitized and perfectly clean is “brand new” anyway?

My husband likes to say that I could win the lottery and I’d still go look at used cars. I’d say he’s probably right (and I’d love to find out!)

Born and bred

I think frugality and a zest for thrift is in the bone — born and bred. Maybe it’s a Midwestern thing?

Perhaps living so far from the harbors, our pre-industrial era ancestors learned to make do and make it work since replacements and upgrades were few and far between?

There are people who love a bargain and some who just can’t fathom buying used goods. I can respect that.

Not to mention that somebody has to buy everything new, so I can buy it from them in a few years at a fraction of the original cost.

For others, there is definitely the thrill of the hunt, joy in the find and satisfaction in stretching a dime.

When it comes to making a home out of frugal finds and thrifty design there is some assembly — and fabulous saving — required.

About the Author

Warm, witty and just a wee bit warped, Kymberly Foster Seabolt is a native of Kent, Ohio, who survived childhood exposure to disco and grew up to marry and move to the country. Her column weaves her special brand of humor with poignant, entertaining, and honest portrayals of parenting, marriage, and real life. She currently lives in northeastern Ohio with her husband, two children, two dogs, two cats, and numerous dust bunnies who wish to remain nameless. More Stories by Kymberly Foster Seabolt

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