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Searching for a bargain

By Staff
SOMETHING FOR ALL AGES – Samra Ward, 10, foreground, looks at a book she found at a recent garage sale, while her dad, Matt Ward, looks at other items. Shoppers and treasure hunters converge on homes, usually on Saturday mornings, in search of well-priced bargains. Photo by Paula Merritt/The Meridian Star
By Penny Randall / staff writer
Oct. 13, 2002
Pots and pans.
A table and chairs.
Clothes and shoes.
Sometimes, even the kitchen sink.
No, we're not talking about Wal-Mart.
We're talking about garage sales. Or, as other people call them, yard, estate and rummage sales weekend events in which people try to sell stuff that clutters their homes.
Meridian resident Penny Nichols is the unofficial queen of the garage sale, or, as she prefers to call them, estate sales. For the past 25 years, Nichols has made a living organizing estate sales.
While most garage sales are confined to person's garage or driveway, Nichols sells items both inside and outside a person's house.
Nichols' Saturdays start early. She gets up at 5 a.m. and heads for the seller's home to organize the sale that usually begins about two hours later.
Buyers arrive early
No matter what you call them garage, yard or estate sales Nichols said an old saying still holds true: "Someone else's trash could be your treasure."
That's why Lagean Byrd of Cuba, Ala., wakes every Saturday at 4:30 a.m. and travels to Meridian. She wants a close look at garage sale items before the crowds arrive.
Church friends and garage sale fans Bobbie Spears of Meridian and Sherry Byrd of York, Ala., have perfected their routine to a science: They meet and leave their homes at 5 a.m. every Saturday.
That perfect deal
Spears and Byrd always look for great bargains. And they say they find a lot of them, including one of which Spears is particularly proud: The reading skills program Hooked on Phonics.
Spears also is proud of another garage sale find: a designer outfit worth $350 that she bought for $3.
Byrd said she, too, likes to find a good bargain.
When it comes to haggling, Nichols said she doesn't mind negotiating a price with people. She said bargaining is all part of the game.
Asked about the secret to a good sale, Nichols said: "Price it reasonably. I don't push them into buying things."
New sales career
While garage sales are a hobby for Spears and Byrd, they are a business for Nichols one that just evolved over the years.
Nichols said there is no special time to have a sale, but that the first of the month is when a lot of people get paid.
Nichols has also found it helpful to continue the sale from 1 p.m.-3 p.m. on Sundays.
For Spears, spending her Saturday mornings getting in and out of her car is worth it. She said it's the money she saves that gets her excited.