I’D HEARD ABOUT EAST HAMPTON’S legendary yard sales. “You’ll find everything you need at them,” people said.
What I need: a loveseat/bench for the front deck; a bench for the front hall; a night table and lamp for the guest room. Maybe some salad servers. Sofa cushions, but I’m not going to find them at a yard sale. Nothing else! I’m made of steel when it comes to resisting unnecessary crap.
But I did want to check out some local yard sales, just for the fun of it. I knew enough to pick up a copy of the East Hampton Star on Friday, with its two columns of nothing but Yard Sales, and planned a route for Saturday morning, salivating against my better judgement over ads for “Full basement” (I have a couple of full basements myself, that’s the sickness of it) and “Top drawer stuff”(always a subjective matter, never more so than when it comes to yard sales).
These Hamptons people start early. In Brooklyn, nothing happens on the stoop/tag/yard sale front ’til 10AM. Here they start at 8, 8:30, or 9 — and even then, as my friend Nancy and I discovered at 7:55 this morning, pulling up in front of our first-ever East Hampton yard sale, “No early birds” don’t mean sh*t.
Everywhere we went — and we hit half a dozen sales in Springs, East Hampton, and Amagansett — there were at least ten cars parked, and people walking out with plants, pottery, towels, picture frames, and generally high-quality domestic flotsam and jetsam.
The strangest sale, in Northwest Woods, required us to walk up a long curved gravel driveway to an ersatz chateau, above, landscaped to perfection, where in the garage behind the (just guessing) $15 million dollar manse, we found the best bargains of the day. $2 was the going price for art books (I got one on Jackson Pollock and a photography book), $25 each for low-slung canvas deck chairs (good for around the pool – that’s why I didn’t buy them: no pool). There was an antique marble washstand for $25, but we couldn’t conceive of moving it, and lamps from $5-12, but none that spoke to me.
Next, we visited an arty-looking ’70s house of vertical cedar boards, above, owned by a chic woman who had the greatest shoes in the world – unfortunately, not my size. I was idly looking at two framed Art Deco prints (women’s heads, quite pretty, but did I need them? Hell, no!) marked $15, and idly wondering if that was for one or both, when she said, “You like them. Take them for $2.” I really didn’t want them, but for $2 I couldn’t resist.
So I pulled out two dollar bills and handed them to her. Moments later, her friend came over and said, “You’re selling your birthday presents? Even the ones I got in a very good antique store up in Buffalo and carried down just for you?” Meaning those prints. She turned to me. “He’s really hurt. Can I buy them back?” She thrust the two dollars back at me, at which point the friend realized she had not only sold them, but sold them for two bucks.
His face fell, but he tried to joke it off, saying (of me) “Now she wants $25 for them.” In the end, they insisted I keep them, even though, as I said, I didn’t care. They’re in fine condition and look good on a shelf in my bedroom, so that was a decent score (maybe after I get them re-matted, I’ll upgrade that to ‘incredible’ score).
Then it was on to Amagansett and the fabled Domino magazine ex-editors’ second sell-off of swag, i.e. photo-shoot props, above (the first was in the West Village May 9). Today, according to an article in the Star, they were joined by others from the fashion and design industries, hoping to “unload some of the excess they accumulated during the boom years.” (Now is this really their stuff to sell? I’ve sold a few review copies of books to the Strand in my time, but it seems a bit bizarre that these substantial pieces of upholstered furniture and designer clothes were never returned to the retailers/manufacturers/PR reps, and that no attempt was apparently made to offer at least a token amount of the proceeds of these sales to some cause or charity.)
There, next to a cottage on the Montauk Highway, was a mob scene. I lost interest after I was told the one thing that would have worked for me (a wooden bench) was not for sale. As for the advertised “bargain basement prices,” ha! It seemed as though just about everything, including a brass standing lamp and a small, glass-topped wrought iron table, was marked $425.