More in Singapore embrace garage sales in recycling bid

Fans of garage sales love them for their interesting offerings as well as low prices

Nothing gives housewife Tan Wei Ning, 57, a thrill quite like scoring a deal.

It is why the self-confessed "serial bargain hunter" says she is always on the lookout for garage sales - her preferred way of scoring interesting knick-knacks on the cheap.

Do not go writing her off as just another kiasu auntie, however.

Mrs Tan is one of a growing number of Singaporeans who are hopping on the recycling bandwagon and attending garage sales to score stuff at a steal.

The biggest of recent community garage sales takes place today, at the gardens in Goodman Arts Centre in Mountbatten. Organised by Australian Chloe Sasson, the Great Singapore Garage Sale is held between 9am and noon and will feature 26 stalls, selling everything from "pre-loved" goods to homemade crafts.

The idea came when the 37-year-old started to miss the recycling clubs she was part of back home. "Since people are more conscientious about reducing waste these days, I thought why not test the waters and hold a small garage sale here?" she says.

Still, nothing prepared her for the overwhelmingly positive response she got after floating the idea through a Facebook post in January.

Not only did her event get shared by sheer word-of-mouth, but hundreds of strangers also dropped her messages requesting stall space and offering help to organise the event.

More impressive, though, were the number of people who wanted to attend. At press time, it was about 2,500.

To keep things under control, Ms Sasson has capped the number of sellers to 26 for the event, but says she has more than 100 people on a waiting list for the next sale slated for June.

And in between now and then, there is yet another music-themed community garage sale on the cards.

Scheduled for April 25, the Kilowax X Beat Bodega event at Artistry cafe in Jalan Pinang will let music aficionados buy, sell or trade music-related merchandise - anything from band T-shirts to old-school vinyl records.

It is apparent that the garage sale, once thought of as a Western concept, is now quickly finding favour with locals who have no qualms buying second-hand goods.

For administration manager Lydia Kwan, 36, who held a garage sale at her condominium home in the west in November last year, community bonding was a big impetus to hold the weekend-long sale.

"Even though there are lots of digital platforms to sell things these days, a garage sale lets you interact with the buyer, see and feel the items for yourself and possibly snag a better deal if you're friendly," she says with a laugh.

Her weekend sale drew neighbours from her condominium and the wider estate and Ms Kwan says she was glad to make some friends along the way. Plus, given that she ended the sale with a less cluttered home and a few hundred dollars in her pocket, she is "game to do it again".

For visitors, the bargains are the biggest draw since the sellers are not out to make money.

Take, for instance, Mrs Naomi England, 39, a part-time marketer who is selling hand-stitched boys' shorts and gently used children's toys and accessories at the Goodman sale today.

Her handmade printed shorts are going for $35 a pair and she is selling a brand-new $259 baby carrier for $80.

Elsewhere in the sale, everything from jewellery and vintage toys to branded pre-loved children's clothing are up for grabs, starting from as low as $1 apiece.

The spectrum of items on sale also creates an element of surprise - a factor that has drawn consular assistant Winnie Adriaty, 27, to the Great Singapore Garage Sale today.

Despite living in Batam, the Indonesian national, who heard about the sale through Facebook, is coming to Singapore specifically for it.

"Having been to many yard sales in Indonesia, I'm excited to attend this one in Singapore. I've snagged vintage pieces at these sales before and I love that I never know what I'll find," she says.

Still, despite the many perks, holding a D-I-Y garage sale can come with its share of unpleasant encounters.

For Mr Thomas Fritz, 44, who held a sale in November last year at his East Coast bungalow, before moving back to Germany the following month, the experience left a bad taste in his mouth.

"I had people who showed up at 8am even though my flyer said the sale started only at 11am," he says with a groan.

"Others would haggle incessantly even though the prices were already very low."

The worst was a man who requested to see items ahead of time on a weekday afternoon, but despite confirming three times, he never showed up.

Nonetheless, Mr Fritz managed to sell all his furniture, books, DVDs and plants for $3,000 and quips that he is happy his posessions found new homes.

For garage sale fan Pauline Tan, 24, the biggest draw is sifting through items that have nostalgic significance for their past owners.

"Instead of just getting thrown away, garage sales give people a chance to recycle items and give them a new lease of life in new homes," the student says.

"If it's good for the environment and my wallet, then count me in. After all, one man's trash can definitely be another man's treasure."

avarma@sph.com.sg

What is your best find at a garage sale? E-mail stlife@sph.com.sg