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Urban Archeologist: Gold is Where You Find It

The why and how of tag sale-ing.

I found a friendly comment placed under asking me the question for the ages: “Where do you go to find the good sales?” I have been doing this weekend treasure hunting for as long as I can remember. Actually, it all started with a parent teaching me to drive. What better place to practice parallel parking then among the row of cars at an estate sale. Of course, once successfully wedged between two cars, I had to go and take a look. My first lesson in successful treasure hunting: Randomness.

As a dashing (writer’s embellishment) young lad of 16, I was immediately attracted to… beer; not the beverage, but the container, the label, the signs, the bottle openers. Collectors refer to this as “brewerina” and there are thousands of collectors all over the world. I collected cans and signs and just about anything beer related, even going as far as to join the BCCA (Beer Can Collectors of America) and dreamed of going to the national convention. This lasted until college and my last box of cans stored away for years was finally tossed not long after I moved into my first home. No, there was no value to them, purely sentimental.

I could have probably remembered where each and every one of those cans was found. Especially the can of Olde Bohemian that my father stopped along Route 22 near the Kensico Dam in New York so I could pick it up. I still have the memory, but I didn’t need the faded can with bubbles of rust to relive it.

If you can’t fathom collecting something like this, then there is little hope in my explaining it to you. Maybe it’s a time, or place, or memory that triggers it, but one day you may find that the ceramic saltshaker sitting in the middle of your neighbor’s folding table is, is… interesting.

Suddenly, you remember your uncle used to salt the heck out of something that didn’t need salt at all and your parents would laugh ‘til they cried, and there you are walking up to the person with the cash box asking, “How much for the salt shaker, and do you have the pepper shaker to go with it?” The rest is up to your own self-control.

So, where can you find these sales that will start you collecting and cause memories to surface and new ones to form? I look first on the web. By searching for “CT Estate Sales” you can find a listing that is updated daily or weekly for sales in both CT and NY. As no list is fully comprehensive or 100 percent trustworthy, I balance my search by looking in local papers, collecting tips from friends and sometimes polling other diggers at sales.

So, gentle reader, fellow digger, fledgling or serious collector... where are the good sales this weekend? For another tip — Take a look at the “Yard Sale Finder” widget on my blog (“Sites worth visiting” in left-hand column) that will search for sales any radius distance from your location and pinpoint them on a map. Happy hunting!

Greg Van Antwerp is a Brookfield resident and blogger, who can be found on the weekends in search of a good “dig” or a good story. You can read more about his adventures by visiting his blog.

Jaimie Cura (Editor) February 02, 2012 at 04:46 PM
This is fantastic, thank you! And brewerina? Amazing! I love learning new words! Brewerina kind of sounds like a sweet nickname for a beer-loving ballerina. ;) I learned another new word the other week - marginalia - the little notes people leave in the margins of books.
Greg Van Antwerp February 03, 2012 at 02:58 AM
Thanks Jaimie. I am still laughing at the visual you created "Brewerina - the beer loving Ballerina." Maybe she could dance in her own version of the "Nutcracker" called "The Bottle opener"
Jaimie Cura (Editor) February 03, 2012 at 03:06 AM
Yes, good idea! When are you hosting auditions? :p
Greg Van Antwerp February 03, 2012 at 04:31 AM
One more round of auditions to go, actually "Last Call"
Jaimie Cura (Editor) February 03, 2012 at 04:39 AM
Appropriate term to use - is "Last Call" the name of the ballet? ;)
Greg Van Antwerp February 03, 2012 at 02:09 PM
I might call it "The Brew Danube" though that's more of a waltz, but through beer goggles it could look like a ballet.
Jaimie Cura (Editor) February 03, 2012 at 04:11 PM
Please tell me "The Brew Danube" is really happening, because I will be there! P.S. I went to your site and scoped out the yard sale finder - spring couldn't come soon enough!

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