Some weeks ago my friend Linda, who runs Possum Valley Vintage, was cleaning out her storage space and offered to let Shara and I have a look to see if there was anything we wanted to buy (there was. OF COURSE.). This was back in February, and we were all bemoaning the fact that there had been no good junking over the winter, and talking about how empty our booths were — and Linda said she doesn’t have much luck at yard sales in our area, but prefers Tulsa yard sales. A couple of weeks later, I woke up in a funk on a Saturday and, on a whim, jumped in the car and headed west. I hit Tulsa at about 11 am — in Fayetteville, there wouldn’t be anything left at yard sales except a couple of stray price tags at that point — and didn’t have terribly high hopes for my shopping adventure, but came home with a car full of goodies.
Not only did I pull into town late on a Saturday, but some of my finds were from multi-day estate sales that were on their second and third day. I was thoroughly impressed with the Tulsa yard sale scene after one visit, and I’ve been hankering to go back ever since. This time, I left Fayetteville at 6 am, hitting T-town just before 8, and got down to business. By 10 am my car was packed and I was already having trouble finding room for my fabulous finds — I left behind an antique door with a glass window and a heavy metal mail slot swinging door in it for FIVE DOLLARS because it just wouldn’t fit. Sob. I guess it’s the size of the town that makes it such a good hunting ground for yard sales? I hit an estate sale that opened at 7 am — walked in about 7:45 — and there were only two other people there. Far from the pushing, shoving, and elbowing I would have faced at a Fayetteville estate sale at the same time.
The first sale was an estate sale being run by two sisters. Nothing was marked (I hate that!) so I was hesitant to pick up a whole lot at the beginning, but I was overhearing prices they were giving to the other two men who were at the sale and they seemed more than reasonable. Those men had gotten there before me and had a bunch of cool stuff, including an entire box full of ancient airplane liquor bottles, which were awesome. I got the skates, some pretty old books, a very old, small suitcase with it’s top torn off — which makes it perfect to use as display — and these:
Two of my favorite finds for the day — adorable bird salt and pepper shakers and four volumes of hand-written manuscripts.
The women weren’t sure what the books were — one of them thought it might be business records of the grain business one of her grandfather’s had — and though I had intended to take them apart and use the pages, filled with gorgeous handwriting, in ephemera packs, when I got them home I thought better of it. One of them is some kind of sermon with a medical slant — very odd, and over 200 pages long. The rest are stanza after stanza of poetry. This person spent hours and hours and hours writing, all with a gorgeous calligraphy pen and swoon-worthy cursive. There is not a single date to be found in any of the four volumes, which is frustrating, but what with the ink, hand-writing, and language, I have to believe that they’re from the late-1800s or early-1900s. I’m just not sure what to do with them at this point. There are very few finds I’ve felt guilty re-selling over the years, but something about the hard work invested in this makes me feel a bit bad about putting it on eBay. I’ll have to think on it a while.
Around my second or third stop, I picked up four seven-foot wooden shutters (you can see them in the background of the group picture) that had to be slid in between to the two front seats to fit, completely cutting off my peripheral vision to the right. It was a this point that I had to turn down the door (still hurts, days later) and I knew my potential for fitting large items in was getting more and more slim, and it was barely 10 am!
I found these glass drawer pulls and knobs at a sale in the gorgeous, older part of town. This house had one of those tiny houses parked at the curb — the daughter had made it and was looking for land to plant it on. I wish I had taken a photo but was too shy to ask. It was painted a rainbow of colors and was amazing. I got ten vintage glass drawer handles and six or seven pulls for FIVE DOLLARS. They cleaned up SO PRETTY and are now stashed in my workshop, where I will probably hoard them, never finding the perfect piece of furniture worthy of their use.
Tulsa had one of those “World’s Largest Yard Sale” things at the Expo the weekend I was there, and I had it in the back of my mind to stop by when I was finished with yard sales, but I was having a hard time figuring out when I was “finished.” When I get in a groove like I was, I can go all day. I had hit all the sales that I had starred as “must stops” the night before and was flirting with the idea of stopping when I pulled up at what would end up being my favorite sale.
It was very strange — there were no signs, but there were pieces of furniture on the lawn that I figured out were sold. I could see the driveway but not the garage, and there was nothing in the garage, but the front door was wide open, so I figured it was an estate-sale type of deal, and walked in. I heard voices and saw shoppers, but couldn’t see anyone who looked like they were “working” the sale. The house was a mess, and looked positively tossed — I went to a salvage sale one time in Chicago and it looked a lot like this. Nothing was priced and I wasn’t sure what was for sale and what wasn’t. I wandered back towards the bedroom, where I saw a lady opening up one of those zippered pouches that you use for money and caught a flash of tons of bills inside. Later, once I had made contact with the guy who was having the sale, I found out we weren’t really supposed to be in the house, and that lady was a shopper who had found his change for the sale, which he had tucked in the back bedroom for safe-keeping. Luckily, she was honest, and brought it to him. Turns out he was on his own running things (he did have one guy, very nice, who was trying to help him) because his wife, who was supposed to be helping, had to go and help take care of a sick grandchild. He told me he thought he would be able to just do some yardwork while people bought things occasionally, and had put no time or thought into preparation — nothing was marked, there were signs, and I’m not at all sure he planned to sell all the things that he ended up selling. He said from the moment the sale started he had been running himself ragged, and had decided to just throw his hands up and try to get rid of as much as possible. This was a man who had lost total control of the situation and was totally Zen about it! I had done a “test ask” — you know, that thing you do at unmarked sales where you pick up one or two things to try and gauge how the prices are going to be — and he was quoting me RIDICULOUSLY low prices, which immediately threw me into that zone where my heart is pounding, my mouth is dry, and I develop tunnel vision. I had my eye on the cutest little chair and asked how much (one dollar!) about the time these two older men (in their late 70s, probably) were picking it up…those men scooped me time and time again and were my mortal enemies by the end of it. I noticed people climbing down from the attic — the pull-down ladder kind — and asked the owner’s friend of there was stuff up there to shop and he told me that I could buy whatever I could find up there, but the stairs were rickety and the floor wasn’t really safe so it would be at my own peril. You KNOW I was halfway up the stairs before he had even finished his warning, right? There was almost no room to walk up there at all, and about six people already digging, so it was tricky, but slowly I started pulling stuff down. And uncovered the match of that little red chair I had been deprived of! I was so excited! I hauled it downstairs and ran into one of the little old men and said “Look! I found another one!” and he was NOT HAPPY AT ALL. Later, the owner saw it in my pile and asked me about it and I said “you had another one upstairs!” and the old guy mutters behind me, “yeah, she came down bragging about that.” LOL, gentlemen! All is fair in love and yard sales, mister.
It’s the CUTEST, isn’t it?? Trying not to focus on how nice it would be to have a pair.
He had a full workshop, with lots of nooks and crannies to go through.
The little plaid cooler is a favorite.
After I had already been in the attic once, I heard someone say that there was Christmas stuff in a closet up there. EXCUSE ME?
When I went back up there, I was alone, and should have just stayed until I had gone through every box. But the closet had a floor that was even iffier than the main floor, and there was no light — it was pitch dark and I was kind of feeling with my hands what was inside boxes. I did NOT explore it to the extent that Shara would have — she would have fashioned a flashlight out of the materials on hand and stayed until ever inch was explored, no doubt finding even more goodies than I did, but I just grabbed what I could and headed downstairs.
So, this is what was in my pile by the end: the two suitcases in the main picture, the blue toolbox and two blue fileboxes, the cute little red chair, six big frames that aren’t pictured, the wooden arrow, the little tri-leg table with the marble top (SO CUTE), the Christmas stuff, the plaid cooler, the scales, the little red elephant (anyone know anything about that elephant?), and the little hat/wig box. I only stopped digging because I was afraid I had spent all the money I had left. I asked him to add me up and he says….TEN BUCKS. I MADE him take $20 and still felt guilty. And then I felt too bad to keep looking around — like, oh, if you’re letting people take advantage of you to this degree, let me grab some more stuff! for super-cheap!! I mean, I got A LOT of stuff and should be perfectly content but there was still so much good stuff to go. There was a guy there, clearly a dealer, and he was pulling out some FANTASTIC items…I wanted to stick around and see what else he got. He had Shara’s knack of finding everything — I had spent ten minutes in one corner going through stuff and he got in there after me and found junk that I hadn’t even seen. He kept telling me to shut up because I was going on and on about how fabulous his pile was and he told me I was going to cost him more money. It was a FUN FUN FUN SALE.
I left that house absolutely high on life and definitely didn’t want to quit at that point. I went to one or two more sales, but it was nearing 2 pm, and the signs that the pickings were going to be slim wherever I went at that point were appearing. I hit one sale adjacent to downtown that was the remains of storage spaces — it had the air of something that happened every weekend — and found two of these homemade Pepsi can airplanes that I thought were cool.
I got a few more things, but that is, essentially, the bulk of my finds. Driving was becoming increasingly perilous, with most of my sightlines gone at this point, so I decided to head on over to the Expo to see what the garage sale event there looked like. MISTAKE. There was also a HUGE gun and knife show there at the same time, the parking lot was packed, with pedestrians everywhere, and I was terrified that I was going to hit someone because I was having so much trouble seeing and THAT PERSON WOULD BE ARMED. Being in the vicinity of that many guns makes me nervous so I decided to give up on the idea of shopping there — I wonder if was any good?
Friday night I had looked at a few other shopping options, including some flea market-y type places, but I was pretty tired at this point and decided to hit the one that looked the most promising — Retro Den on Harvard. Friends, the store is fabulous. Follow them on IG for some serious eye candy. Their store has a gorgeous, industrial/mid-century vibe and they sell and pot succulents in-store. I brought my camera, and worked up the nerve to ask the sweet people running the store if I could take some pictures, only to discover I had left my sim card at home. I was so mad at myself, because it would have been so fun to take some pictures of their store. I settled for a few iPhone pics.
This is how they display their vintage slides. I have never been more tempted to buy some. They were fascinating to look at.
How adorable is this ladder display?
The day I was there, a guy was at a potting table, giving demonstrations on re-potting succulents. This store just has a fresh, funky, fun vibe. I highly recommend it if you’re in Tulsa on a vintage hunt.
After Retro Den, I headed downtown and did a little exploring at a few shops in the Deco District. Saw some lovely handmade jewelry, great t-shirts, and fabulous prints, then moseyed across the street and had a salad at Elote Cafe. The downtown area was so chill and laid-back on a Saturday — I really loved the whole vibe. Tulsa is a beautiful town, a lot more funky than I ever gave it credit for. I wish it were closer than two hours, because I have the hankering to go yard saling there EVERY weekend at this point. Do I have any readers from or familiar with Tulsa? I know I have a lot of Oklahoma gals who read…if anyone has any pointers or recommendations, please feel free to share! I will definitely be going back multiple times over the summer (and dragging Shara with me if I can!).
I pulled back into Fayetteville in a much better mood than I have been in lately. I am so glad that Yard Sale season is starting – we have a big Spring event coming up next weekend, and I’m going to get my finds all cleaned up and down to the booth by Thursday. I am so looking forward to it not being a struggle to keep the booth stocked for a few months!