Letter Re: The Importance of Garage Sales in Preparedness

Mr. Rawles;
I thought I’d share this little bit of excitement from my corner of the world, that can serve as a reminder on the importance of scavenging yard and garage sales.

So, I’ve wanted a grain mill for about a year and a half. Because they’re dead useful and I’m growing corn and amaranth in the garden this year. I was really lusting over the Country Living Grain Mill, because it seemed, well, awesome. But $395 plus shipping, plus extra parts was a little out of my reach. I’m a single girl tied by employment to the suburbs, so I pinch every penny I can. [Yes, actually, I do go through my change and fish out the old ones made with copper. I’ve a nice little collection, and it gives me something to do while watching Mythbusters]. So I waited, and every now and then checked Craigslist and eBay. But everyone who was selling one knew what they were selling, and nothing was selling for less than $395.

So I waited.

Then Friday, pondering the recent offer I’d put in on a house, had a sudden whim to check craigslist. I found two listings for a grain mill– one turned out to be a Country Living Grain mill with motor and cart, and the lady was asking $550 for it. That was disappointing. But, there was another listing, for a family yard sale on the other end of the county, and it only listed “Grain mill”.

I figured it was one of those small mills. I shrugged to myself, thinking that if the economy collapses before I collect 40,000 pennies, a small mill is better than no mill, so I might as well get whatever they were selling, as long as it still worked.

Well, I was wrong.It was a huge, cast iron, fire-hydrant-red grain mill, with a motor that the lady included. I turned the flyweel with my hand, and it turned easily. When I asked the price, she said “Oh, five bucks . . . “

Five? Shoot, I’ve got that. I came home, cleaned it up, inspected the really nice lookin’ burrs, found the maker — C.S. Bell Co– and then looked up on the Internet how much it was worth: $399 plus freight, without a motor. I was ecstatic.

If we round up to $400, and I paid $5, then I purchased this mill for 1.25% of retail. (A discount of 98.75%.) This is, again, not counting the motor, or what freight would have cost. (Some options I saw with a motor and a cart ran into the thousands).

Mind you, I’ll be taking the motor to a local servicing station to make sure it’s in good condition and not a danger to operate (I know the power cord needs replacing), and I’ll need a belt (or a few so I’ve some backups). So those will increase the ultimate price. But, whatever I pay for making sure the motor is good, it’ll still be a huge bargain since the motor was free and the mill almost free. And, having a flywheel, there’s always the option post- TEOTWAWKI to connect a bike to the mill to give my arms a rest.

My roommate also obtained $150-$200 worth of candle and soap making supplies for $15.

I always thought that the stories of people getting major deals at yard sales were just stories, exaggerated by re-telling. Well, I don’t think that anymore.

Thank you, Mr. Rawles, for your blog site and for “Patriots”. (I bought a copy of your novel and gave to the roommate for Christmas!)

May God Bless You. Sincerely, – Christine C.

JWR Replies: I concur that local garage sales, yard sales, farm auctions, and estate sales are great sources for preparedness gear such as tools, shelving, and canning jars. Also, don’t overlook you local Freecycle and Craigslist web pages. Watch them like a hawk!