£By DENISE DICK
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
AUSTINTOWN — Leigh Thorpe and her mother, Dorothy Ellis, troll garage sales each spring and summer in search of a deal.
With her eight-week-old daughter, Emma, on one shoulder, Thorpe of the township looked through baby clothes, toys and accessories on a recent morning.
“I’m looking for anything for her,” Thorpe said, indicating her sleeping infant.
Emma’s tiny shoes, jeans and sweater are all garage sale finds.
“The stuff you find at garage sales — mostly — is of such high quality,” Ellis added.
But the display has to be neat and organized, she said, so it’s easy to find what she’s looking for.
That’s a strategy that Janice Kaschak and Kathy Kirchner employ for the annual garage sale they participate in with a third family.
“Everything has to be in a certain place,” Kaschak said.
Baby clothes are laid out together. Housewares get their own table, starting with pots and pans all the way down to Christmas decorations. The big items — baby strollers, high chairs — sit out front, lining the sides of the driveway.
This year marked the ninth year for the multifamily garage sale in the township and they added a new element.
A sign offered bottled water for $1. Kirchner read about the idea in a magazine article about garage sale tips.
Thorpe peruses garage sale ads and spends portions of each Friday and Saturday looking for deals.
“I found one outfit for her [her daughter] at a garage sale for 50 cents and saw it in the store for $8 or $9,” she said.
Ellis, also of Austintown, said her sister was a big garage saler and she picked up tips from her: take time to look at different sales, and through items at each one.
Thorpe honed her craft when she got married two years ago and the couple bought a home.
“We were newlyweds and we needed a lot of things,” she said. “We couldn’t buy all new.”
That’s when she had to fit her bargaining hunting around her job and rely on Ellis to help her find particular items.
A stay-at-home-mom since her daughter’s birth, Thorpe has more time to devote to the deal shopping.
The mother and daughter garage sale experts look for other ways to save in this economic downturn too.
Thorpe’s husband travels 50 minutes to work one way each day to Rochester, Pa. To keep gas costs down, she keeps her travels close to home.
“I’m a big penny pincher,” she said. “I look at all of the grocery sales and I’m a coupon person.”
All of that takes time but saves her money.
“It really helps,” she said. “I saved $35 last week.”
Sometimes with sales and coupons, Thorpe can even get products for free.
“I stock up — even if I don’t need them,” she said. “I have a big pantry.”
Ellis is a widow on a limited income and she keeps hearing predictions of higher gas and food prices on the horizon.
“It’s kind of a worry,” she said.
She doesn’t buy anything that she doesn’t need.