As a resident of the downtown core, I can say that I have watched the Glebe Garage Sale change from it’s humble beginnings as a small neighborhood simply banding together in the best attempt to declutter it’s basements, to it’s current status as the “Great Glebe Garage Sale”, an all day community spanning event. Now everyone from the smallest home owners to the largest retailers and corporations come out to show their wares and services.
While I can say that the event has lost some of it’s local charm and feeling of community in it’s attempt to grow and attract more frugal buyers, the positive effects of it’s growth and benefit to the city and it’s residents far outweighs the nostalgia for the golden days of the garage sale’s early years. As someone who has watched it change and has embraced it in it’s new form here’s some advice for next years Glebe Garage Sale for those brave enough to make the trip…..
1) GET THERE EARLY:
Seriously if you’re thinking of rolling out of bed 9’ish and having a leisurely breakfast before making the trip, don’t even bother if you’re the serious deal hunter. People begin setting up their tables usually around 7am which is when the first of the deal hunters are already on the prowl. If your using this as a cash saver to get that affordable baby seat or save a few bucks on those Disney toys your kids have to have, then get there at the same time as the true deal finders do. The event is in full swing all day but the best deals are gone by 8:30-9am. Remember that.
2) FOR GOD SAKES DON’T BRING YOUR CAR!
This may be the one thing that takes the day from “a nice reason to get out and enjoy the sunshine” to “Now let us never speak of this experience again.”
Ottawa’s downtown core is pretty good for finding parking at a reasonable distance from where you need to actually be. But be warned, bringing your car to the Glebe or anywhere else downtown during this day is usually a pretty bad idea.For starters when entering or leaving the Glebe during the sale you will find that the people around you wont be very accommodating as far as getting out of your way and letting you through. There has been a lot of talk of banning cars outright altogether in the neighborhood during this day, but until that happens keep in mind that a couple hundred thousand people cant all keep to the sidewalk and the streets tend to fill over. Good luck plowing a path. Now lets get to the real reason not to drive down…PARKING. Parking is pretty much non existent in the Glebe due to the fact that garage sale table are lining the streets where you might park, and the last 5 years of the event has coincided with Ottawa’s annual race weekend as well as a few other large events downtown. The garage sale weekend is literally the perfect storm for parking and traffic. So do yourself a favor, eat your pride and use what has been rated as one of the worlds best bus/ public transit services. (You’ll thank me for it)
3) DON’T FALL FOR IT!
A few things to watch for while deal hunting:
-For starters keep in mind that many resident of the Glebe cleaned out their junk years ago and ran out of inventory for the garage sale’s tables.These are generally the people who are hitting Value Village and other garage sales before the event and then mark up these items by 3-400% in order to have a lucrative weekend. If your looking for something specific check used prices online beforehand.
-Watch out for the retailers who show up. Most of them have stores that are open within 2 miles of the sale, and they are simply exploiting the day to inflate their prices. While I could point out countless examples of this, last year we saw a tent selling handmade jewelry, a bracelet under the tent cost 25$. THE SAME bracelet 500 yards up the street at their store on bank st was 10$. Just because it’s under a tent and part of the garage sale, doesn’t mean you’re getting a deal.
-Hungry? The same food at the mobile food trucks parked everywhere is probably available within 15 feet of that truck in someones private driveway on their own bar-b-q. They are charging generally 75% less and the food tastes 100% better! (And come on, Mom’s homemade burgers and hotdogs are ALWAYS going to taste better than something in a food truck!)
This is why you came! For the deal right?
You’d be surprised that while most items are marked at every stall and table, almost every seller I’ve met will move to at least 50% off the sticker price. Especially if whatever they’re selling is still there after 10am in the morning. Don’t be afraid to get aggressive in your haggling. If the sticker says 1$ smile politely and say “I’ll give you a quarter for this”. Some will roll their eyes, others will start a negotiation but many will just let you have it. You’d be surprised how many people just want to fold that table up and go back to their weekend. If practically giving away items is the way to do that, they will.
Keep in the spirit of the thing will ya….
Don’t get stressed that you didn’t find that one brand of jolly-jumper you sought after, or that the prickly looking old woman practically snatched that Optimus Prime lunchbox out of your 7 year olds hands. Don’t freak when you spent a little more time in traffic and had to explain to that one lady that her box of assorted “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” doesn’t belong on the antiques roadshow.
Well that’s the best I can offer up to all you future garage salers, perhaps you can let us know about your own experience or offer tips for surviving the “Great Glebe Garage Sale” of your own in the comments section below.
See you next year!