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Yard sale has finds for miles

July 09, 2010|By ALICIA NOTARIANNI

Travel is usually on my family's Fourth of July agenda. But this year I stayed in town and discovered a fanciful destination right in my own backyard.

Or more accurately, in nearby front yards.

Friends asked my husband and me to tag along with their family to the Mile-Long Plus Yard Sale north of Hagerstown.

For residents of the neighborhoods surrounding Paradise Church Road and Longmeadow Road, and the many patrons who frequent their sales, the event is as much a part of the Fourth of July as hotdogs and fireworks.

We met Eric and Lisa and their sons at a doughnut shop at 6:30 a.m. sharp. Veterans of the sale, they wore sensible shoes and discussed their carefully considered yard sale wish lists over coffee.

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My approach was more laissez-faire. I wore flip-flops, and figured if I needed anything, I would know it when I saw it.

The first sale tables tempted me with nostalgia. Vintage Playskool toys from my toddlerhood. A pasta roller. A set of Wella Balsam shampoo and conditioner from the 1970s. Though the fresh, clean aroma instantaneously transported me back to grade school, I didn't want chemicals in my hair that had been sitting around mutating for 30-plus years.

I did, however, indulge in more cogent beauty products. I found Mary Kay eye shadow and Bath and Body Works body spray in current packaging and haggled to get them for a quarter each. And I satisfied my nostalgic cravings by snatching up the game Booby Trap in its original box for $1.

Meanwhile, I took notes from our friends. Watching them reminded me what a good resource yard sales can be when shopped not just on a whim, but with some creativity and planning.

For example, Eric and Lisa's 17-year-old son Wade saved up money from his summer job and recently bought an older vehicle that came with a cassette player.

In a smart effort to make do, Wade has been picking up used cassette tapes at yard sales and discovering older music that's new to him for mere pennies.

In another clever turn, he set out at the Mile-Long Plus sale in search of a CD Walkman to plug into the vehicle's cassette player.

The older yet viable device would give him yet another option to expand his musical horizons, he figured.

It goes to show that neither teens, nor adults, for that matter, need to have the newest, most expensive objects to enjoy some of life's pleasures. With a little forethought and a few dollars spent on secondhand items, the results can be just as good.

It inspired me to make a mental wish list of my own before moving on to the rest of the sales.

One priority was to spruce up one of our bathrooms. I determined to keep an eye out for the dcor I had in mind, and not to just settle for something because it was cheap.

Lo and behold, I found two nice-sized prints similar to those I'd been admiring in catalogs and magazines. I got the set for a fabulous $3.

A couple tables over was a shower curtain, still in original packaging, in a coordinating hue. And in a nearby box were two pillar candles in a complementary color that the seller threw in for free. These finds added up to a simple bathroom boost for a tidy four bucks.

From now on, I'll still stride into yard sales with my usual sense of whimsy and an eye for the unexpected.

But I'll balance my approach with some sensible shoes and a well-thought out wish list.

Alicia Notarianni is a reporter and feature writer for The Herald-Mail. Her e-mail address is alnotarianni@aol.com .

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