Ever heard the phrase "one man's junk is another man's treasure?" I grew up in a household where we were taught to really take care of our personal belongings - no matter what we paid for them - and that anything useful should never be just "thrown out." Unless it was something that had been used up, busted up, or totally destroyed, you kept it - or gave it (or sold it) to someone who could use it. I remember my mother repeating this sentiment for years while growing up in a small rural town of southwestern Michigan. Called by different terms in different parts of the country - Rummage Sales, Yard Sales, Garage Sales, Estate Sales, Moving Sales, or Jumble Sales - make it possible for many of us to obtain things that might be financially out of our reach at "regular prices. (There's also flea markets, antique shops, junk shops, second-hand stores, etc.) Even though we lived in a small development that was literally in the middle of a farming community, when my mother had a rummage sale, people would come from miles around (and she always made some good money in the process!)
I remember my mother taking us to a few rummage sales, but it was so long ago I couldn't really tell you what we'd buy. My father was an avid antique bottle collector for years, and the family was always on the lookout for old and interesting bottles to add to his collection. We attended several auctions as well, and again, though I can't remember what my parents might have bid on, I remember listening to the auctioneer with fascination while studying the adults who would raise their hands or yell out a price. (I always secretly wished that I could bid on something back then - just because it seemed like those people were so excited when they won a bid!)
Maybe it becomes a little stronger with "age," but I absolutely LOVE finding a great bargain, "steal," or used treasure. It's not just because times have gotten "tougher" either - I've always enjoyed finding a quality, gently-used piece of clothing or merchandise at a great price. Call me a shop-a-holic, but I believe it's exciting to just "stumble" across something special and pay very little to take it home!
I've had several friends who've enjoyed going on these jaunts with me, and it's very poignant how my "treasure-seeking" has changed over the years. When my children were little, the focus was typically on finding bargains in baby and toddler clothing, toys, furniture and other useful items for children. I find myself still greatly enjoying the trips to rummage sales, flea markets and junk stores, only now I'm not usually searching for anything in particular. I'm really just enjoying the "thrill" of coming across something we could use, for next to "nothing!"
Case in point: this past Sunday afternoon after church, my husband and I noticed that a "new" antique and junk store opened at a nearby intersection...what caught our eye was that sitting outside the open door was an old, upright string Bass. Our middle son owns and plays several types of instruments, and has always wanted a Bass. Naturally, we had to check it out "just in case" it turned out to be a great deal. Although it was a good price, it's not in our budget at the moment. However, we did go inside and found a bargain we could afford - a used, stainless steel, Cuisinart Blender for $25.00. After plugging it in at the shop and discovering it worked like a charm, I declared to the owner it was sold! We brought it home and sprayed some cleanser on that baby - it sparkles like new and now sits on our kitchen counter. Knowing that this blender originally cost around $80, I felt like I'd discovered a rare vein of gold in the mountains! A couple days later I was roaming around our local Goodwill, (another favorite "haunt" of ours!) and uncovered a Longaberger basket for only $2.50.....some people just don't know what they're donating or giving away!
My point is this...we don't have to spend a lot to find a treasure. Sometimes the deals are right under our noses, while other times the search is the best part of the purchase. It's immensely satisfying to know that while you got an item you really wanted or needed, you also helped out a small-business owner in their endeavor. With all the hi-tech, in-your-face, marketing tactics of department stores, malls, huge discount shopping centers and even on-line sales, I think it's a welcome return to old-fashioned values when we buy used and recycled products.
Our family is much more careful about disposing of our old clothing and household items now...even the boys automatically think about whether someone else might be able to use an article they no longer want. We started that practice when they were very young, usually around birthdays or Christmas - we would sit and go through their toys and other collectibles to determine if they really needed it anymore. Not only did they begin an early understanding of what it means to appreciate what they own, they began to think outside of their little world and contemplate on what others might not have.
The gentlemen that owned the antique and junk shop mentioned something to me that I hadn't heard yet, even though I've lived in the south now for over 25 years...he told me to enjoy the rest of my day "goin' junkin." I couldn't help but chuckle that I wasn't familiar with that term, but that it perfectly described our afternoon's activity. I will most likely never meet the person who got rid of that blender and that little basket, but I'm certain that their intentions were for someone to get it who wanted and needed it.
Next time you find yourself cleaning closets, going through the basement, attic or garage, and are ready to just "ditch" a bunch of junk - think twice....someone (like me!) might be goin' junkin. Your junk could be another's treasure!
Pay it forward - spread a smile!
(photo courtesy of Google images.)