Garage sale treasures

This past weekend we went garage saling and found some fun things for our house and some furniture to sell, too. I would call it a successful trip though we did encounter two annoying garage sale mistakes/frustrations which I’ll share throughout this post.

Unlike a lot of our garage saling experiences, this time we found some things specifically for Andrew. He spends more time in our office than I do, so he wants it to have a rustic industrial kind of feel. We found this old, metal toolbox and stapler and thought they fit well with that style.

 We bought these 3 pieces of wood (for like $2) thinking that at some point we could restain them and use L brackets to mount them to the wall in the office to create a bookshelf. And even if we don’t end up using them there, wood isn’t normally cheap (especially not pretty wood) and I’m sure we’ll find something to do with it.

 We also bought a large piece of glass for a couple bucks that Andrew wants to make into a white board in his office. He’ll drill holes in each corner and mount it so it sticks out an inch or so from the wall.

Andrew also loved this antique bread box. I really don’t have any idea what we’re going to do with this, but it was too unique a piece to pass up for so cheap.

Mistake #1: The first (and Andrew’s pet peeve) is poor signage. I can’t even count how many signs we turned for that didn’t have a follow-up sign. If we could read an address, we mapped it with our phones, but never assume people know where your street is or will have a phone to find it. Put a sign on EVERY corner! Also, saying “Great Sale” or “Huge sale” never really helps. Nobody says “I’m only going to turn when I see a sign for a great sale. No normal sales for me!” It just takes up space making everything on the sign smaller and harder to read. Only put the essentials!

We also got some accessories for me. Andrew thought I was crazy when I picked up these A-Z bookends, but with a little spray paint these will have an entirely new look. And they were only $1. I’m thinking maybe a metallic finish or a really bright color.

I found another mirror for my mirror collection (that will also be painted at some point in the future) and another piece of milk glass for my sadly small collection. I only have 5 pieces, so I really need to work on that. Andrew might disagree. By the way, that makes it sound like I have a lot of “collections.” I really don’t. Just frames/mirrors and milk glass. I promise I’m not crazy!

These were one of my favorite finds of the day. I love these birds! They’re not actually real wood, but unless you touch them you wouldn’t know. We don’t have very many wood tones in our house, so I think I’ll leave these just the way they are to incorporate some natural tones. They’re fairly small, so they might go on a small section of wall in the hallway.

Mistake #2: My biggest frustration is when everything is overpriced. Garage sale prices should typically be about 10% of what you paid (though I think you can get a little more for furniture). When it looks like they’ve sold nothing by 10 in the morning it’s probably because of the prices. By 10am most of the furniture should be gone and everything else should be pretty picked over. One sale we saw had outrageous prices like $10 on a 4×6 framed mirror, $50 on small used rugs, and over $300 on all the larger furniture (though they were antique, they were all damaged). Garage sales are not the place to get greedy. If you need a certain price on larger items, try Craigslist. As for the rest, time for a reality check! Don’t allow sentiment to affect your pricing! 

And remember how I said I’m going to be redoing some furniture to sell? Well we found some good deals on that front, too. Now I just have to make sure I actually sell the pieces instead of keeping them all for me! This small table was $5.

It is veneer on the top and there is some damage, but it’s a solid mahogany table so I think we could peel or sand off the veneer and stain or paint the wood underneath.

See? Genuine mahogany. I always like seeing these stickers. The top is mahogany planks, not one solid piece, but I still think it would have a pretty, rustic look if I were to stain it.

My biggest purchase was this dresser for $10. It’s not a great quality dresser by any means, but I think repainted it will be really cute.  The guy that was selling it was having a moving sale, and it was the kind of moving sale where you could tell he really didn’t want to take the stuff with him. He was definitely in bargaining mode which was great for me!

Unfortunately that wasn’t the only dresser we bought. We also got this. For $5. But maybe it should have been free. Although I think the pulls might have been worth $5 on their own (It came with all of them, but we’d already taken most out).

It’s actually a decent quality dresser, but obviously has just had such a rough life. The veneer is a hot mess. Andrew said he wanted it and I made it crystal clear that it’s HIS project, not mine, so we’ll see if he’s up for the challenge.

My favorite purchase of the day was this 3 drawer chest. I don’t know if the person we bought it for realized how old it was, but we thought maybe 70’s when we bought it since it seemed to be in pretty good shape. Thought maybe it was sort of fake mid-century. She had $40 on it, but because of the chips in the veneer we got it for $20.

It has a stamp on the inside that says Albert Distinctive Modern Furniture, Shelbyville, IN, so of course I had to look it up.

And sadly there isn’t much information about it. 🙁 But here’s what I did find out. In the first half of the 1900s, Shelbyville, IN was known for their numerous furniture factories, but in 1960 the construction of an interstate from Shelbyville to Indianapolis was completed and made the big city more accessible to both consumers and workers. Now there are still a few furniture manufacturers there, but not like before.

Albert Furniture Company started as Root Furniture Company in about 1900 (became Albert in 1912), and later was also known as the Henry Joseph Furniture Company. They made primarily bedroom and dining room furniture. At some point there was a fire in their factory which was torn down in 1964. In 1957 they were forced into receivership, which doesn’t necessarily mean they stopped production right away, but I would assume it would have stopped shortly thereafter. This definitely meant 70’s was a bit late, but I thought maybe 60’s were still a possibility.

I just couldn’t stand not knowing so I went out and looked over it again hoping to find a date stamp (which a lot of older furniture has). We had looked for it before, but didn’t find anything. And then, magic happened. On the bottom of the middle drawer, I found this!

February 19, 1951!! It’s 61 years old. Not super old, I know, but older than I thought and this means I have my first piece of genuine mid-century modern furniture. That made up my mind right then and there that this piece was staying in my house. I’m not sure where it will go and mid-century isn’t the style we’re working toward, but I will definitely find a place for it! It also cemented in my mind that I need to try to preserve the wood finish and not paint the piece.

The mid-century modern chest was definitely my favorite find. All in all, it was a very successful day and I’m excited to start using some of these pieces in my decor. What’s the best thing you’ve ever found at a garage sale?

10 Responses to Garage sale treasures

  1. Nancy June 17, 2014 at 8:31 pm #

    I enjoyed the info about Albert furniture. I just ran into a chest of drawers and dresser with the Albert stamp in the bottom of the drawer at a consignment shop, and have been having trouble finding out anything about them. Never had heard of Albert. Liked the chest of drawers, not crazy about the finish, but generally in good shape and not too expensive. I didn’t study the piece, but when I opened the drawers, I could swear it smelled like cedar. Could the drawer bottoms be cedar? One reason I was researching.

    • Arielle June 28, 2014 at 11:52 pm #

      Hm, I’m not sure. I finally got around to checking mine and it’s definitely oak. In my experience, most cheap or mid-range mid century pieces seem to be oak, but I suppose it’s possible! It’s hard to find out much information about specific manufacturers. 🙁 I do think mine has an “old wood” smell that could maybe be mistaken for a cedar scent.

      – Arielle

  2. Tracy February 24, 2015 at 9:19 am #

    I just bought a 7 piece bedroom set … it is beautiful.. your post was very helpful. Thank you! 1949.. I love modern mid-century

  3. StellaMarie August 16, 2015 at 11:51 pm #

    Thanks for posting this! I actually found this exact same Albert Modern Furniture piece at a Goodwill in Atlanta but it had been painted an awful color. I bought it and tried to research it but couldn’t find much info either. Its funny that I found this post as I had decided to throw it out, I didn’t have time to strip the paint so I removed the hardware to keep and set the piece out for the trash but I decided to Google the Albert furniture company after seeing the stamp again in one of the drawers as I was taking it out to the curb. I think that I am going to bring it back in and restore it after seeing this!

    • Simple House Expressions August 17, 2015 at 11:30 am #

      Aw, I’m glad you found my post! I hope you will try to restore it, but if that’s too much work (and it’s in decent shape) it might still be cute painted a different color! It’s such a shame when someone paints a wooden piece that didn’t need painted or wasn’t intended to be painted, but if that’s the only way to fix it and keep it, then I’m not against repainting! Happy restoring!


  4. Sheree August 17, 2015 at 6:34 am #

    When we bought our house, we “inherited” 2 Albert dressers the owner didn’t want. Thanks for your post, now I’ve got to find a date stamp!

    • Simple House Expressions August 17, 2015 at 11:18 am #

      Oh, how fun! I love free furniture, especially when it’s good quality! Good luck finding the dates!


  5. Beth Slayton July 18, 2016 at 9:13 am #

    My mon recently passed away and my dad is living with my brother now. I am trying to get rid of furniture and they have a set from Albert Distinctive Modern Furniture that has to be from the 40’s if not earlier. There is a full bed head and foot board, a night stand, a dresser with a mirror and a tall chest of drawers. It is blond with a basket weave type design carved in to the sides of each piece.
    I also had a hard time finding any info on the company so thank you for posting what you found. I will check for a date the next time I go to their house.

    • Simple House Expressions July 27, 2016 at 9:29 am #

      Hi Beth! Glad you found it helpful! 🙂 I always love looking for dates and trying to figure out the history behind different pieces!

      – Arielle

  6. Pam February 28, 2017 at 8:04 pm #

    I have a full bedroom set that was bought new in 1948. I am trying to see what it is worth. Going to sell night stand bed, chest, and dresser. Blonde color. Can you help me. I have pictures if that would help