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Garage Sale Gal: Buy what you love

Stored under In the News on February 1, 2007 at 7:00 AM
Valentine's Day is just around the corner and it got me to thinking about love. Not the deep-down love we feel for our spouse, child, friend or pet, but the love of superficial things.

I have a rule when it comes to shopping at garage sales: Buy only what I love. Problem is I've broken that rule a few times. OK, I've broken it a lot!

I have a hard time passing up a bargain even if I don't adore it. For instance, who can pass up two brand new lampshades still wrapped in plastic for just 50 cents? I can always use a lampshade, even though I haven't yet. I also rescue things from certain death. I forked over $1 for an old, yellow tabletoprotary dial phone. I couldn't bear to see it go into the trash. So now it's sitting silently, disconnected in my office gathering dust instead of at the bottom of the landfill.

Then there are times when I buy something because I just can't look away, let alone walk away. It was a hot, summer day in Gilbert when I saw it lying helplessly in a garage sale. Some people might consider it tacky, but sometimes tacky is good. It was an incredible, large, hanging Mediterranean-looking, oil lamp - the kind you might have seen in an Italian restaurant in the 1970s, where the decor was lovably gaudy but comforting as you chowed down on your spaghetti with meat sauce.

It now hangs in my parents' Arizona room. This is just one of the many things I've bought but don't need. So I've been trying to figure out how I can curb my enthusiasm for all things unusual and inexpensive.

I saw some advice on the Internet that suggests we should "avoid impulse buying" at garage sales. But isn't that what garage sales are all about? When I'm walking up to a sale, I know I don't need anything. I'm usually not shopping for any one thing in particular. That tip doesn't help me.

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