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Garage sales are an art form for both buyers and sellers

June 19--When it comes to garage sales, early birds usually come out with a haul. But don't be too early, or Carole Bennett won't take your money.

"It says right there in the paper, 'No early birds,' " Bennett said, shaking her finger. "If they can't read, that's their problem. I'll send them on their way."

Bennett spent two weeks ahead of her sale rummaging through the attic of her midtown home, her husband's junk room and the garage. Setting up for a garage sale is hard work, especially because she also toted everything to south Tulsa to do a joint sale with her daughter.

So if she's a little cranky after all of that, too bad, she said.

Bennett admits that parting with her belongings is tough. As a buyer tries to negotiate a set of dishes from $10 to $5, she stands her ground. In contrast, when it comes to her husband Marvin's "crud," she'll take anything anyone offers.

"I want it all gone," she said. "Marvin may leave me over it once he figures out that I sold all his crud, but oh well. I'll be lonely, but at least I'll have an organized house."

Marvin Bennett's dreaded junk room was stacked so high, "One day we lost our granddaughter in there," Carole Bennett quipped.

Lydia Keswick found a few gems among Marvin's crud, and with a little TLC, she expects an old Western Electric telephone to be an accent in her antiques room.

"All it needs is a good cleaning," Keswick said. "You have to look past the dust, and you can find really great stuff at yard sales."

Krystle Minsick and Ashlee Groom are sisters, stay-at-home moms who thrive on their time spent bargain hunting. On Fridays in the summer, they drop the kids off at "Mom's Day Out" for a few hours of shopping therapy.

"This way we don't break the bank either," Groom said. "I could go to the mall and spend $20 in the first 10 minutes. At garage sales, it's more about how fun it is to see if you can stretch that 20 bucks all morning."

Kids' clothes are a hot-ticket item for Minsick and Groom. They slide open a van door to show off their morning purchases. Minsick points to name brands, all stain-free and not bearing a hint of second-hand status. At the last stop, she was able to grab a pair of toddler Nikes, four outfits from The Children's Place and a Laura Ashley dress, all for $8.50.

"Kids' clothes are so expensive, and they grow out of them so fast," Minsick said. "I could go to Macy's and buy these same things, but why do it when I can find them like this for a lot, lot less?"

Groom also found an old sander of Marvin Bennett's that she plans to use to refinish a table she bought at a sale in Broken Arrow the day before.

And Carole Bennett couldn't be happier. She even carried it out to Groom's van.

"(Marvin) keeps everything, and I can't take it anymore," Carole Bennett said. "He even picked up a chipped sink from the side of the road one day. His bright idea was to make into a planter for the backyard. That was six or seven years ago. Guess where it ended up? Right where this old sander did."

Bennett did her best to distract her husband from the fact that most of the contents of his junk room are sorted in a driveway and priced to move.

That's also why Bennett wanted the sale at her daughter Sheila Redfox's house.

"We did it this way so Dad wouldn't be around to notice what's going on," Redfox said laughing. "I warned Mom though, I only give it two days before he catches on. I'll be on vacation then, and I'm keeping my cell phone turned off."

Garage talk
Try these tips for buyers and sellers before hitting the sales this week:

Team up. If you are holding a sale, try to arrange it at the same time as others in your neighborhood or combine with a friend's family. You'll get more traffic.

Make signs in addition to placing ads. Most effective is to use fluorescent background with thick, black lettering. Take a test drive around the block and see if you can read the address while driving the speed limit. If not, make the type bigger.

Be specific. When advertising in the classifieds, make your description as broad as possible. If you are selling everything from a Hasty-Bake oven to Levi's to three editions of Encyclopedia Britannica, say that. "Big sale, clothes, appliances, books," won't entice the masses.

Haggle. Buyers, always negotiate, and sellers, be willing to negotiate. An item may have a lot of value to your family, but really, it's just a ceramic turtle to everyone else. Make sure the price reflects that. And, on the other hand, as a buyer, don't insult people by offering 25 percent of the asking price. Just because it is a garage sale doesn't mean everything should be 50 cents.

Rise and shine. The dealers (antique stores, auction houses, consignment stores) are out in full force bright and early, snatching up things to mark up and sell in their stores. If you want to find used furniture or big items with value, make sure to be out by 7 a.m. Also, sellers are more prone to giving a deal to an individual rather than a dealer, so, again -- haggle.

Be charitable If you hold a garage sale and items are left over, consider donating them to a charity that helps the needy. Call a charity of your choice to ask if they accept donations or do curbside pickups. Ask for a receipt and claim the donation on your taxes.

Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Tulsa: Bring items yourself Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. to 2450 N. Harvard Ave.

Catholic Charities will accept anything except automobiles. Donate clothing, furniture, air conditioners, any appliance in working condition.

Goodwill of Tulsa: For donation center locations, go to or call 918-584-7291. Call 918-581-1200 to arrange a special pickup of a large quantity of items.

Attended donation centers are open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday. Goodwill accepts new or gently used clothing and household items.

     Brandi Ball 918-581-8369

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