Rum­mag­ing for Hidden Trea­sure


It all started when my mom took me to a rum­mage sale within walk­ing dis­tance of our house. That day, I paid 25 cents for a clas­sic comic book called “Tales of Sher­lock Holmes” and some Ideals mag­a­zines that were filled with beau­ti­ful po­etry and pho­tos. It was the be­gin­ning of my love af­fair with barn and yard sales.

While search­ing for some­thing unique and dif­fer­ent, I found a bonus—the won­der­ful folks I’ve met along the way. These sales have be­come mini so­cial cen­ters, where di­verse cul­tures and age groups form a col­lec­tors’ com­mu­nity. Familiar faces ap­pear at ev­ery store or sale. Our love for older and gen­tly used items brings us to­gether.

Some of us hunt for crocks, art glass, rare books and grand­fa­ther clocks. Oth­ers can’t get enough fur­ni­ture, fine art, lava lamps and sports col­lectibles. Re­cently, I saw a cou­ple buy a wicker rocker. On their way out they said, “Don’t worry, we’ll give it a good home.” We are a net­work of bar­gain hunters at­tracted to signs that say “As Is” and “No Re­turns.” Of­ten, we con­gre­gate to share tips or in­for­ma­tion: “Are you go­ing to the es­tate sale?” “Did you know about that great on­line auc­tion?”

When my mother joined me on my own searches for an­tiques, she be­came nos­tal­gic. A set of glass dishes or an old wooden rolling pin trig­gered mem­o­ries. On our week­end ex­cur­sions, we were two good friends, rem­i­nisc­ing. Through her eyes, I saw ob­jects as sen­ti­men­tal con­nec­tions to fam­ily.

Finding a vin­tage ra­dio or clas­sic fig­urine is ex­hil­a­rat­ing, but the real ben­e­fit is meet­ing new friends whose en­thu­si­asm gives you a deeper ap­pre­ci­a­tion for your own spe­cial in­ter­ests. They make you feel the next valu­able trea­sure is just around the cor­ner.

At the end of the day, friend­ship is the best keep­sake of them all.

This vin­tage washer gets new life as a planter.

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