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This is the first in a series – if you have questions please send to


I can’t tell you how many times people come to estate sales and see a price tag on an item and say, “but you only paid $1.99 for that.”

There are a few reasons that items aren’t always priced according to the price on the item.

The first case is when the item was purchased 20 to 50 years ago. The fact that an item was priced $1.99 in 1960 usually means that item is now vintage and has increased in value. A Holly Hobby doll purchased for $4.99 may now be worth $20. Items are priced according to what their current value is – NOT what it cost 40 years ago.

Another case is when an item’s original price at, say, TJ Maxx was $24.99, but the owner, who was a savvy shopper, purchased it on sale for $10. That discount is not always going to be reflected in the price. Instead it is based on the VALUE of the item.

On the flip side of this, there are cases when the original price was higher than we think the item is worth. In that case, we will price the items lower than originally priced.

We do try to remove the original price labels, but it is not always possible, so hopefully this will remove some of the confusion.



The customer’s safety – and shopping experience – are very important. Every house is different and if the house is large enough, and items are spread out, then most people can usually be accommodated.

However, if the house is small and items are hard to get to, it is very important to limit the amount of people that can enter the house.

Too many people in the house at one time can cause chaos, crowding and make it hard to maneuver.

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Many people like to shop at estate sales because they love the fact that they can get a bargain. They can also find fun things that are unique, vintage or that add to their collection.

However, if a shopper is looking for something that is in perfect condition, there are some things that they need to know.

While estate sale companies don’t knowingly sell items that are defective, broken or unclean (unless marked ‘as is’), there is not enough time to plug in every toaster and iron the make sure that they are in perfect working order.

We also can’t guarantee that clothes and linens (some of which may have been sitting in boxes for years) are clean or soil free.

That is why I tell customers to TRY IT ON, TURN IT ON AND CHECK THE VALUE.

We tell people this because most estate sale companies do not give refunds, including SALE by GALE. If you are buying anything electrical (toaster, weed whacker, hair dryer, etc.), ask if you can plug it in. This is a request that we are always happy to accommodate.

For the handyman in the group, they may still want to purchase the item (knowing that they can fix it), they may ask for a discount. If reasonable, we will negotiate.

If you are buying CDs, DVDs or LPs, check the box. Some sales have hundreds of these items and we don’t have the time to check each one. We don’t want you to be disappointed if you get home and find that you have empty containers.

Try on whatever you are buying to make sure that it fits. Check linens and clothes for snags or stains. All items should be washed after being purchased.

Ceramics may have cracks and other items may not be perfect. However, some times, that adds to the charm of the item and may be fine.

We also suggest that you look up the value for higher-end items. While we try to price things reasonably, you may decide that an item is priced higher than comparable items. This may be totally worth it to purchaser if it is something that they have been looking for, but it is good to have the information.

If you buy food items, check the expiration date. It is up to you to decide if you want to purchase it. We can’t guarantee the contents of unopened items.

The most important thing to remember is that we can’t give refunds for merchandise and we want you to have the most pleasant shopping experience.

Thank you for shopping SALE by GALE!!!



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Summer Games

Long before we had cell phones and video games, we had to figure out how to spend the long hot summer.

The only camp that existed then was with the town Rec center where you went for day and made braided gimp bracelets and clay pots.

Some kids went to Boy Scout or Girl Scout camps but there wasn’t anything like what the kids have now.

There were a lot of hours IMG_2653to fill, so we made our own fun and used natures ‘toys’ to entertain ourselves.

The weeds with the thing at top was used as a camera. You wrapped the bottom stem around and then popped the top bud off.

Punks found down in the swamps could be used for a variety of things. You could pretend that they were cigarettes and smoke them.

Hours could be spent looking for the elusive four-leaf clover in a field with mostly three-leaIMG_2441f clover.

Daisies helped us determine if that special guy liked us as much as we liked him. “He loves me, He loves me not.”

The propeller-like seeds that fall from trees were peeled apart and placed on the nose.

The little yellow flowers were placed under the chin to see if there was a yellow reflection. That indicated that you liked butter.

Not high-tech but it did provide for hours of amusement back in the day.

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  1. It is possible to buy just about anything out of your window at traffic stops in the larger villages. That includes food, drink, windshield wipers, cell phone accessories, fabric, bread, pots and toilet paper.
  2. IMG_2128  can carry just about anything on their heads – including a pail of water for the entire day, basket of fruit or vegetables, or a platter with three dozen eggs.
  3. Most women of child-bearing age have several children and they balance things on their head while carrying a baby on their back.
  4. White people affectionately known as ‘yovos’ are still a rare sight in many of the smaller villages and children will wave and cluster around you.
  5. There is no such thing as trash pick-up so it is littered throughout the IMG_2139villages. Some of it is burned but the ubiquitous ‘sachet’ or small black plastic bags that people can’t seem to live without are littered throughout the country. There is very little recycling.
  6. There is no such thing as a weight limit for a vehicle. “Bush Taxis” pile enough stuff for a small household on top of them. And yes, they do sometimes tip over. Small cars will carry 15 large bags of charcoal crammed into seats, trunk and the roof.
  7. “Moto Taxi” IMG_2132Scooters can hold FIVE people, or one person and three chicken coops, or two people, a container of water, firewood and groceries.
  8. Just because an item is on a menu doesn’t mean that they have it on hand. In fact, expect that at least two of your party’s items will not be available.
  9. Just because the lights are on when you go into a store or restaurant doesn’t mean that they will stay on all night. But that’s what cell phones are for.
  10. Children walk miles (literally) to school and they do not complain.
  11. Just about all prices are negotiated.
  12. Used American clothes are purchased by the bagful and resold on the street. It would not be uncommon for somebody to see their son’s former soccer shirt.
  13. It is commonplace for men to pee on the side of the road – anytime, anywhere.
  14. Instead of using hazard signs when a car breaks down, they use leaves or branches.
  15. People sleep anywhere – on a wooden bench, floor, etc.
  16. A road marked on a map doesn’t mean that it is paved – and if paved, there is no guarantee that it will not have major potholes in it.
  17. Water is an extremely scarce commodity.
  18. People are very poor, but very welcoming.
  19. There is a huge need for water and schools in the villages.
  20. Please consider donating to: ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­
    1. Bread and Water for Africa.
    2. Your local Rotary group.
    3. Peace Corp.

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Given that Blind Copy has been around for a long time, I’m not quite sure why few people seem to take advantage of it. Instead emails are sent out with pages of email addresses that the reader has to wade through.

This is especially annoying when reading the email on the cell phone because you have to page down through the list of multiple emails when all you want to see is the email itself.

It’s so easy to include the same list in Blind Copy rather than in the TO: or COPY: section.

Not only is the Blind Copy option a great way to cut down on the clutter in your inbox; but it also prevents user’s names from being inadvertently copied.

Even more annoying that Blind Copy is Reply All. Certainly some instances call for it, but the majority of the time, there is no reason that EVERYBODY needs to see who is coming to an event; what they are bringing; etc. More often than not, the person who sent the email – or the coordinator – is the only one who needs to get the reply.

I received an invitation to a holiday party recently and I heard from over 25 people on this list who could not attend the party. Because I was included on their replies, I heard about the fact that their mother-in-law was ill, or they were going to Ohio, or that they had the flu. I mean no disrespect but I didn’t know any of these people so I didn’t need to hear about their respective reasons as to why they could not attend the party.

There are times when it is necessary to Reply All if people need to see who is coming so that they don’t duplicate dishes or they need to see what the latest consensus is for a date.

However, I suggest that you make a New Year’s pledge to cut clutter and START using Blind Copy and STOP using Reply All. Happy New Year!

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Shoppers buy all sorts of things at estate sales – and for all sorts of reasons. Some are collectors who are looking for a piece or two to complete their collection.

Others are looking for furniture or other household items to furnish a new home or child’s apartment.

Many are just looking for the penultimate bargain. There are certain items that one should look for at estate sales if they are in the market for these items.

Candles. Go to a Yankee Candle store and you will pay $20-$50 for a candle. Candles at estate sales are usually priced between $1-5.

Printer paper/labels. This can also cost a lot at a store, but estate sales are usually looking to get rid of them and sell them for a dollar or two per package.

Household cleaners and other products. More often than not, a sale will include a few boxes of the above items. Normally priced between $1-2, this can be a real bargain, especially when a box of detergent can cost as much as $10.

Books. Books are often very plentiful at sales, and are heavy and hard to pack up and move. Unless they are rare or otherwise special, most sell books at $.50-$2 for paperbacks and $1-$10 for hard cover.

Record albums. These have come back in fashion and can be picked up for a few dollars apiece at most sales.

Clothes and shoes. Some estates include a beautiful collection of clothes and shoes – both for men and women. If they are your size, then you are in luck, because most sales don’t price clothes higher than $10 for designer labels. You can typically get small items like socks, hats and belts for a couple of dollars. Some items are newer, while there is often a nice collection of vintage items as well.

Linens. These are often plentiful at sales and range from the most delicate lace to the funkiest patterns to hand-made quilts. Pick up a set of towels and sheets for much less than you would pay at discount store.

Gale Curcio is the owner of SALE by GALE, an estate sale company specializing in full-house sales Northern Virginia. Visit her website at to see other blogs.

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People have been repurposing items for as long as man has been alive. The cave men turned rocks into arrows and branches into spears.

There are always new things – and new ways to repurpose and I will highlight some of the items that I have seen lately.

I think that sometimes people hear the word repurpose and think, oh no, this requires sanding and painting and I will never get to it. While some repurposing projects do require painting and sanding, there are just as many that merely require some cleaning – or just using in a different room for a different purpose.

Last year, I sold a Portuguese Meat Scale at one of my sales. It’s hard to appreciate in the original photos as none of the scales are hanging on it – nor are all the individual weights in the designated slots below. But this thing was solid brass – and a beauty.

brass - after brass - before

Fortunately, my neighbor purchased it so I was able to see what it was used for. This woman is an incredible artist and I was so thrilled when we went to her house for a holiday celebration and there it was. She had polished the brass and used it as an amazing holiday decoration. It fit perfectly into the space where she had envisioned it and was cleverly festive.

This required elbow grease and a little creativity.

Dining room hutches and buffets are great for repurposing. You’ve probably all heard how hard it is to sell ‘the browns’ – this applies especially to dining room hutches and buffets in cherry, walnut or mahogany.

dinging hutches

People get tired of bumping into them and just don’t have room for them in their dining room. But they can’t sell them – and sometimes they want to keep them for sentimental reasons. They just don’t want them in the dining room.

This is a case of merely moving them to another room. I had a beautiful hutch at a sale that didn’t sell. I couldn’t stand to let it go, so I purchased it and put it in one of my guest rooms. It holds linens, toiletries and other items – and is perfect in that room.

dinging buffets

Another time I purchased a buffet. This item was very large but I realized that it would replace an area in my study. Instead of the smaller multiple cabinets that were taking space in that area, I was able to replace it with this one piece. It looks much nicer and is much neater looking.

Old wooden chairs – this is nothing new. They look great in a garden with a plant and require no touch-up since they are going to be outside and will quickly weather anyway.

There are several great ways to use wine corks – bulletin boards, hot pads, etc., but did you also know that you can bring them to Whole Foods and they will recycle them?
My son had hundreds of Lego pieces and while I want to keep some of them, they can also be creatively encased in a shadow box and hung on the wall.

Have you seen the kid’s crocs hanging on a shed with little plants in them? They look adorable.

Glass canisters are great for making terrariums. Just buy some rocks, dirt and a small plant that doesn’t need much water. They are just as easy to maintain as they are to make.

Baby Dresses can easily be turned into hanging bags for plastic bags, clothes pins, etc. Just sew a seam along the bottom and insert into hanger. If you don’t want to sew, you can use some heavy duty tape to seal the bottom.

Old wooden ladders are great for displaying a variety of things – from purses to tablecloths to blankets. Some of them will need some painting and sanding but as long as they have a good coat of shellac, the items hanging on it will be protected from ‘catching’ on the wood.

These are just a few items that can be repurposed. Sign up for our monthly newsletter to get more useful ideas. And if you have something that you repurposed after purchasing it at one of my sales, please send before/after photos with description to

Gale Curcio is the owner of SALE by GALE, an estate sale company specializing in full-house sales Northern Virginia. Visit her website at to see other blogs.

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You know that you have been flying too much when all you can think about is what bugs you when you fly. I have several pet peeves about airplanes so as a result I have thought of a few ways to redesign them.

THE COOTIE CATCHER (aka back seat holder)
This needs to be eliminated from all planes immediately. Everything can be shown digitally so there is no need for the magazine or instructions to be put in those pockets on the back of the seats.
I guarantee that they never get cleaned (except perfunctorily) and that they contain all kind of germs.
I personally would never put my hand in there – consider what might be (or was) in those pockets. Used sick bags, used tissues, leftover lunch/dinner, dirty diaper – oh the list could go on.
Plus it would give back another half inch of leg room which is sorely needed.

These need to be banned on all seats as well. When somebody in front of you reclines, there is no space to eat or use your computer.
Can’t they just figure out a way to have all seats at a slight recline and still comply with Federal laws?
It’s even worse when the person reclines without warning at an alarming speed.
ZAP – there goes your drink on your lap and computer up in the air.
If they are going to keep reclining seats, they should install some kind of sensor so that at least you know that the seat is coming back and you can prepare.

This cage would come over the ‘COUGHER’ – you know the ones I’m talking about. They hack constantly the entire flight not even trying to subdue the cough with lozenges or drinks.
A containment cage could come over them and seal them up with their germs intact. No longer would you have to load up on vitamin C when you leave the flight for fear that you will be sick during your entire trip.
It would also be great for snorers.

Instead of the arm rests that they currently have, airlines should install movable dividers. These would be like the dividers raised between contestants on Jeopardy so that they can’t cheat.
Dividers can be low if you want to snuggle with your partner – or very high (think eye level) if you really don’t want to have anything to do with your seat mate.
I once flew to Argentina (9-hour flight) and the man next to me fell asleep with his elbow in my abdomen. I started to gradually build up a wall of pillows and blankets and nudged his elbow back into his space.
I’m not sure if he realized what I was doing but at least I retrieved ‘my space.’
This would prevent the ‘ELBOW SNATCHERS’ from invading your space. If there was a barrier these invaders will no longer be able to protrude their elbows over their space and into your lap.
Come to think it, this would probably eliminate the need for containment cages.
Better yet, they could divide in half and serve as tray tables, eliminating the need for tray tables on the back of seats. And a sterilization unit could clean the dividers/tray tables when they were lowered into their holders.

Let’s stop fooling ourselves. Everybody knows that the bag that they are bringing on is too large for the overhead bin – AND that it will be full in about 10 minutes.
They also know that if you board halfway through the trip that your bag will be checked for free.
So why not just stop the charade and put everybody’s bags in the baggage hold?
However, instead of having to go to the baggage carousel, all luggage would be delivered QUICKLY to the gate.
There is still plenty of room underneath the seat for your briefcase or purse. If you remove the overhead compartments, seats could be raised, thus giving more room and preventing concussions when flyers bang their heads into the overhead – or a 75-pound suitcase comes down on their head.
They could have a movable rack with shelves for flyers who insist on bringing things on board.
Then perhaps with the extra space that is gained by eliminating the overhead racks they could add some sleeping berths?

Unfortunately there are still too many people who aren’t smart enough to realize that bringing a corned beef and sauerkraut sandwich or liverwurst is going to stink up the entire plane for the duration of the flight. A list of acceptable food groups should be posted at all gates and repeat offenders made to sit in the bathroom for the duration of the flight. Of course this is another instance where the containment cage would come in handy.

Bathrooms for men/women
Ladies, just think how nice it would be to walk into a bathroom that didn’t have the seat up and the bathroom a mess. This might mean waiting a little longer but a bathroom app WOULD eliminate the need to wait in line.
Log onto the app and indicate that you need to go to the bathroom. You will be assigned a number and approximate wait time.
I can’t imagine that I will see any of these change in my lifetime but it’s nice to have fun with it!

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At the ripe old age of 60 I have decided to start a blog. It is appropriately named “SIXTY SHADES OF . . . “

THIS means that I can write about just about anything.

I figure that I must have learned something these past 60 years. It just depends on whether or not anybody wants to read what I have to say.

I have decided that I will start by making some resolutions. These won’t be the typical resolutions but rather those of one who is older and wiser.

I could resolve to stop drinking or smoking but it hasn’t killed me yet, so why stop now? Well maybe I will cut back a little!

Number One – Reduce the number of clocks in the house. When I counted we had 30 clocks. It’s not that I’m obsessed with time (goodness knows I should pay more attention to it – see resolution Number Four); it’s just that I really like buying clocks. But as you can imagine when Daylight Savings Time comes around it takes a long time to reset all these clocks. Plus they need new batteries or the power goes out. My goal is to cut the number of clocks in half.

Number Two – Pay more attention to my husband – oops Tom must have slipped that one in!

Number Three – Be on time – or at least no more than 10 minutes late. It is a very bad habit and rude. It has to do with underestimating the time that it takes to get from Place A to Place B. After two years, I have realized that it takes much longer than 10 minutes to get from my house to Old Town.

Number Four – Walk my dog more often – oops, Roxie must have slipped that one in.

Number Five – Write at least one article a month. This is other than my blog. I have so many issues that I want to write about – I just have to force myself to find the time to sit down and write.

Number Six – Stop Cancelling Plans. Or maybe I should just stop MAKING plans. There are so many fun things to do but invariably I make plans a month out and then when the time comes, I’m just too tired. This can cost quite a bit for events that are pre-paid.

Number Seven – Get my website up and running. If you are reading this, then I have achieved that goal!

Number Eight – Travel to one exotic place a year. We have already been to Panama and I’m going to Iceland for my birthday. Next year – Africa!

Number Nine – Start taking yoga. My body would thank me.

Number Ten – And finally, Get More Organized. While I spend my days organizing other people’s houses, I need to organize my own house!