With its low self-esteem and high urban blight, Hartford is the ultimate underdog city. Sad City Hartford documents the joys, sorrows and eccentricities of New England's Rising Star.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

West Hartford Pickers

This pic is actually from Hartford
One of our favorite summer weekend activities is hitting up tag sales. One just never knows what types of gems can turn up when looking through other people's junk. Since tag sales are essentially people getting rid of stuff they don't want, it's a no-brainer strategy to leave Hartford on these trips. It's simple economics, the higher the income in the area, the more likely you are to find better stuff at tag sales.

While West Hartford is our most frequent spot to hit up tag sales, Glastonbury, Avon, and Farmington are also good locations. East Hartford is to be avoided.

Hitting up tag sales usually involves sifting through a lot of junk to find those hidden gems. Expect to go through your share of baby clothes, woefully outdated electronics, (people hate to throw once state of the art electronics away) lots of junky paperbacks, and a stunning amount of generic and not generally sought after kitchen equipment like drinking glasses, old plates, and coffee mugs.

While sifting through the junk can get monotonous, it all pays off when you strike the big hidden gem. Over the last year we've scored vintage framed movies posters, an old fan, a 1930's era traveling trunk, a few alcohol decanters, and an early 1960's Beatles Life magazine. All of these have been acquired for no more than a few dollars per item,

Some tag sales tips; while bartering is almost universally accepted, (expected really) don't get too cheap. If the price is already very low, don't risk insulting the seller to save a quarter. It's one thing to ask if they will take $10 for an item marked for $12, but don't ask if they will take .75 on an item marked $1.

It's not worth potentially losing the item. If a seller asks you to "name a price" on an unmarked item, it's best to try and get them to throw out a number first. By shooting in the dark with a price you risk either overpaying or offending the seller, neither desirable to a picker. Don't waste too much time chatting with a home owner at a bomb of a sale. If there's nothing there, be polite and move on. Sometimes it just seems these poor souls are desperate for someone to talk to. That's what bars and chat rooms are for. You've got bargains to hunt.

Finally the earlier you get out there, the better. Most tag sales start between 8 and 9 and old people are really good at getting up early and scooping up the good items. Hold off on those last couple drinks the night before and get an early start. Reward yourself with a breakfast sandwich at Goldberg's for rising so early on the weekend. It's amazing what you can get done before noon when you don't sleep until 10:30.

Happy hunting!


  1. You mean "haggling" not "bartering."

  2. Good catch, Dave Brigham, good catch.

  3. that bro is wearing quite the v-neck

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