JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARBULLETIN.COM
Paké Zane holds a bottle of Primo Beer, highly prized by collectors, amid other bottled beverages with collectible value in his store Antique Alley. Below, a successful garage sale requires proper signage.
On the hunt for bargains
Garage sale shoppers sift for overlooked treasures among the many everyday items
Head out to a garage sale and you'll fine the usual assortment of goods: clothing, toys, tools and the odd item or two -- bottles, can openers, slogan buttons.
For collectors new to the garage-sale game, veteran Paul Naki suggests:
Don't get your hopes up too high. "But be excited at the possibility of finding something just sitting there."
Don't be afraid to negotiate price. "Offer something. They just might take it."
Devour garage sale ads. Focus on one or two sales. "I know people who try to hit as many sales as they can. But don't run around and do too much."
Do your research. Decide if you want to attend a garage sale, estate sale or an auction. "It all depends on how much you want to spend."
Think about display. Put items that might sell faster toward the front. Make sure items are clean, and put similar items together. Put prices on tags or stickers.
First sale? study up. Check out other garage sales in your area. Compare prices and offerings.
Strength in numbers. Consider asking neighbors if they want join in a multi-family garage sale.
Post signs. Make them of heavy cardboard marked with time, date, address and a nearby landmark. Keep it brief. Place them in high-traffic areas.
Place an ad. Put details about your sale in a newspaper ad and run the item the day before and the day of the sale. Here's where you can describe items for sale, plus list antiques for collectors and dealers. If you're selling clothes, list sizes.
You should be so lucky.
To some, the prospect of adding to a personal collection is what drives a person out to a garage sale weekend after weekend.
"I went to garage sales until the collecting got out-of-hand," Kaimuki Middle School teacher Paul Naki said with a groan.
"You find things in the strangest places. People go because there may be a possibility that something that someone has put for sale might be valuable, like Hawaiian collectibles. Where else can you go find something like that, except for at antique stores where it will be expensive? It's also very interesting to see what people are getting rid of."
For practiced shoppers with an eagle-eye, there's the possibility of finding that old aloha shirt -- without the $200 price that it might fetch on eBay -- hanging on the clothing rack in someone's driveway. The chance of finding a cultural figurine with history among the knick-knacks may draw another.
"They're still out there, but not as much," said Naki. Although he has found rare collectibles at sales, the real items of value were landscapes he found for very little money but that had great personal interest.
"They were some really excellent paintings from 60, 70 years ago," said Naki. "I paint off and on, and after I got them cleaned up, I saw that they were excellent. I wasn't interested in getting them appraised, but they were special to me."
A treasure he accidentally found while browsing a sale was dismissed as a general stack of newspapers by other shoppers. "I took my time and looked around. ... Lo and behold there was a set of papers dating back to World War II."
But while the thrill of competing for bargains may be an enticing prospect for some, the idea of rubbing elbows with other early birds scares off a few potential weekend shoppers.
Paké Zane, part owner of Antique Alley in Chinatown, said he hasn't attended an area garage sale since the 1970s. "There's just so many people and I'm not into aggressive behavior so I quit."
He doesn't consider himself a collector, but a "cultural recycler."
"I collect what no one else would think of. It's physically hard work to put in the time, take dry garbage, clean it and sort it out."
Zane said going to garage sales is more a question of purpose than price tag. "It's a matter of need versus want. There's a whole slew of reasons to shop at yard sales. There's the treasure seekers who buy things they can sell. Then there are others who pick up things out of need. If you need a baby carriage, garage sales are great for them."
"It all depends on what a person is interested in," said Naki. "A lot of people relive their childhood through their collections. But once you start collecting, the collection tends to get bigger and bigger."
JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARBULLETIN.COM
Paké Zane and Julie Lauster have been at the Antique Alley location for 21 years.