The weather is warmer and garage-sale warriors are advancing.
There is no X marking the spot, but we navigate with the help of handwritten signs with arrows pointing north, south, east, west and around corners.
As antique collectors, my husband, Mike, and I can be found scouring Long Island neighborhoods for garage and estate sales. We find some of them listed in the newspaper.
We believe that sellers fall into three categories: family members clearing out a relative’s house, entrepreneurs who want to subsidize their incomes, and homeowners who just want to get rid of stuff.
If you see a millennial selling an Atari VCS video-game console and a Smurf collection, he is probably in the first category.
At one sale, my husband whispered to me, “That’s OUR table she’s selling.”
He remembered seeing the woman take the table from our curb. (We support recycling.)
College textbooks are often offered for sale. I know they were costly and never opened, but here’s my question: “If I didn’t open my own textbooks, why would I open the sellers’?”
Friends often ask about our greatest finds.
I stopped at a Fort Salonga sale and paid $1 for a piece of costume jewelry. The pin was later appraised for $1,600.
At another sale, I bought a letter opener for 75 cents. I discovered it was a World War II miniature dagger worth $500.
But the best finds are treasures that you prize even though they have no inherent value. For example, my friend Phyllis was on a search for a Corningware coffee pot.
This was after Phyllis’ Aunt Margaret threw out her own Corningware pot. She had modernized and bought a coffee machine with pods. Margaret then noticed that family members no longer lingered after dinner for coffee.
I found a Corningware pot at a garage sale for $1. Once my pot was introduced, relatives lingered again.
One Saturday, I overheard a man say, “I am trying to buy back all my boyhood toys that my mother threw out.”
Childhood memorabilia is a common quest. Whether it’s their hunt for a Bret Michaels poster or a G.I. Joe lunch box, collectors are out there searching for pieces of their youth.
Recently I found my own unique treasure: a book autographed by the late humorist Erma Bombeck.
I like to write, and I attempt to follow her style. I framed her signature and have it prominently displayed as a source of inspiration. I glance at the autograph, imagining she is guiding my words. Her book was insignificant to the seller; it is my cherished keepsake.
Hunting for treasure is part of our Long Island history; it’s in our DNA. For centuries, treasure hunters have been searching the East End for Capt. Kidd’s booty. Kidd himself was a treasure hunter, though he didn’t require a bill of sale.
Treasures are calling. Unleash your inner pirate.
Reader Rose Warren lives in Plainedge.