Three Letters Re: Garage and Yard Sales as a Retreat Logistics Source

Hi Mr. Rawles,
I’ve also been able to pick up a lot of gear and most importantly, books, at yard sales and junk stores that sell books for $1 or 25 cents each. I was able to pick up a home medical advisor from the 1920s for 25 cents in maine, I have also bought numerous books on small scale farming, canning, food storage, and living off the grid from the 1920s for a dollar each. Much of the information would be relevant to a post-TEOTWAWKI, as it was written for farmers or rural residents that didn’t have access to electricity and largely lived off the land.
Regards, – Sam


I saw the letter about garage and yard sales and had a related comment. I used to live in the suburbia of North Denver and they had what we called Junk Days. More formally known as bulk item pick-up. A time – twice a year – when the city trash service would pick up virtually anything you put out. Many cities do this. You would not believe the items that people throw away. Garden tools (shovels, rakes, hoes, etc), power tools (lawn mowers, weed whackers, drills, routers, table saws, etc) motorcycles, snow blowers, roto-tillers, etc. So many things that with a little bit of attention can last for a long, long time. I have not paid for a garden tool for years off of what I picked up there and still have many spares. I would recommend this to anyone. It became sort of a treasure hunt for me. I enjoyed cruising the neighborhoods looking for things. Got all sorts of stuff that people said there was no way I could find. A piano, a spinning wheel, a riding lawn mower. People are just insane with what they throw away. Once I stopped to grab an aluminum step ladder from in front of someone’s house. The man was working in his garage so I asked if it was okay to take it. He was getting out his new fiberglass step ladder while I was taking his old – perfectly useful – aluminum step ladder. What a fool . . . In any case, I could go on and on, but look for this sort of thing in a suburbia near you. Just make sure it is not illegal (some places have made it illegal to take trash from peoples houses due to identity theft). Regards, – Tim P.


Greetings Jim and Family,
To expand on the garage and yard sales for logistics source here is another source, rental storage facility auctions. One would be amazed how many people rent storage space and then just stop paying rent after moving or leaving town. Usually when renters fail to pay the rent for several months the storage facility can place the rented storage space contents up for auction. Most rental facilities hold auctions quarterly in order to have a block of storage spaces for auction. By coincidence I ran across an auction one day when I went by to pay the rent for the month. I walked around and was amazed at the contents of the storage spaces. All the bidders were going to the unopened storage spaces marked for auction, the space was then opened and the auctioneer’s assistants would haul out the contents for bidding. No one got a chance before the auction to view the contents, everyone got a look at the same time. It is amazing the things some people leave behind. I saw some beautiful wood bedroom furniture, nearly new golf clubs, antiques of all descriptions, just about anything you could find in a home or business.

One storage space contained a business’s files on employees among other business files. Since a lot of the files had SSN from the employees files the auctioneer did not let the contents of the filing cabinets leave with the bidder. The contents were removed and then shredded for security. When one of the storage spaces was opened I had wished that I could have been a bidder. The contents contained the obligatory furniture and other miscellaneous items. But the last quarter of the contents in the storage space contained radar scattering camouflage netting (complete with spreaders, poles and a repair kit), ammo cans (mostly empty but some with tools), a box of belted 7.62 NATO blanks among other kinds of gear. The look on most people’s faces when the camo net and gear was hauled out was one of “What the heck is that?”, and one fellow looked like a kid at Christmas. He knew what he was looking at, the others didn’t. After bidding he walked away a very happy man.

The storage space contents are usually broken into lots of items for biding. Bedroom furniture among other kinds of furniture were auctioned separately then the small items were separated into lots of similar items like all the kitchen items, books, toys, etc. When a bidder won the bid, they paid for the items before moving on to the next storage space and they had to take away their purchases the day of the auction. Only in the case with some of the furniture or other very bulky or heavy items were the bidders allowed to return with a truck to take the item away within 24 hours.

Check local newspapers for announcements of auctions. The one I stumbled on was held during the week instead of the weekend for some reason. I would think the weekend would be more suitable to get more bidders. Most of the bidders there that day had businesses where they would resale some of the items like furniture for a second hand store. But there were individuals looking for bargains or that rare antique that no one else would recognize. In talking with the auctioneer later I found out that many commercial warehouses do the same thing at least once a year or so. But because the warehouse customers are predominately businesses the auctions are few since it is less likely a business will walk away from stored merchandise. – The Rabid One