I Brake for Yard Sales: And Flea Markets, Thrift Shops, Auctions, and the Occasional Dumpster Info

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Good Morning America correspondent Lara Spencer is a
self-confessed frugalista with a passion for shopping at yard sales,
thrift shops, and estate sales, and for decorating her home and
friends’ homes with her fabulous finds. In I Brake for Yard
Sales
, Lara shares her secrets for bargain hunting and tells you
where to shop, what to look for, how to pay for it, how to restore it,
and finally, where to put it in your house. Looking for the newest
arrivals at your local thrift shops? After busy Saturdays and no-pick-up
Sundays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays are generally the best days to shop
for fresh items. Peppered with wisdom from world-renowned appraisers
whom Lara knows from her previous work on Antiques Roadshow as
well as contributions from well-known designers, this book also features
the house of comedienne and good friend Kathy Griffin, which Spencer
herself refurbished and decorated.


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Reviews for I Brake for Yard Sales: And Flea Markets, Thrift Shops, Auctions, and the Occasional Dumpster:

2

Apr 06, 2013

I’m a fan of Lara Spencer, so when I saw this at the library I quickly snatched it up. TV Lara, the one that appears on Good Morning America and Flea Market Flip, is a down to earth funny girl, but in this book she comes off as a little pretentious. Pretentious is not a term you would think of when a person is shopping at flea markets, auctions, garage sales, etc. However, Lara uses the term “blue-blood” ad nauseum, admits to having electricians, painters and upholstery people and shows pictures I’m a fan of Lara Spencer, so when I saw this at the library I quickly snatched it up. TV Lara, the one that appears on Good Morning America and Flea Market Flip, is a down to earth funny girl, but in this book she comes off as a little pretentious. Pretentious is not a term you would think of when a person is shopping at flea markets, auctions, garage sales, etc. However, Lara uses the term “blue-blood” ad nauseum, admits to having electricians, painters and upholstery people and shows pictures and interviews of her designer friends. This just proves that this book is not for the average person.

I like the whole concept of recycling, reusing and repurposing. It’s definitely good for the environment and for the most part wallet friendly. Lara shows some great pieces she has recycled from her finds. She shows pictures of her home, her friends’ homes including Kathy Griffin’s home, which Lara was hired to decorate. Visually the book is pretty stunning, even if I’m not totally feeling the aesthetic. Advice wise most of the book is pretty common sense. Things like, look for good bones in furniture, know your brands, have cash on hand and have a plan of attack before getting in the car, etc. Lara also gives links to her favorite sites and provides a Filofax of her favorite haunts. One thing she doesn’t provide, which irked me throughout the book, is how much it costs and what the time investment was to repurpose the pieces she bought. Even in Flea Market Flip the teams have the help of a carpenter and electrician. They never reveal how much fabric is or how much it is to turn a vase into a lamp. I get that you can get some nice conversational pieces by going Martha Stuart on an old piece, but I feel like you need to factor in the additional costs and time investment to get a better understanding of how much that conversational piece is. I’ll tell you this much, it’s not the $20 Lara claims to have spent on it, especially not when she’s reupholstering it in mohair fabric and she paid someone else to do it for her!
...more
2

Jun 26, 2012

Like Lara Spencer, co-anchor for Good Morning America and closeted antique dealer-slash-interior designer, I too brake for yard sales. There is a thrill that comes with the unknown that garage sales, flea markets, and thrift shops present: you never know, on any given day, what might be waiting there for you to claim as your own. One gal’s trash is another’s treasure and all that jazz.

But that’s where the resemblance ends. Unlike real people who bargain shop because they cannot afford retail, Like Lara Spencer, co-anchor for Good Morning America and closeted antique dealer-slash-interior designer, I too brake for yard sales. There is a thrill that comes with the unknown that garage sales, flea markets, and thrift shops present: you never know, on any given day, what might be waiting there for you to claim as your own. One gal’s trash is another’s treasure and all that jazz.

But that’s where the resemblance ends. Unlike real people who bargain shop because they cannot afford retail, Spencer has a seemingly infinite budget with which to furnish not just her two homes but also the homes of her friends. Unrelatable much? Further alienating is her style, which would be almost impossible to replicate (and I personally wouldn’t want to) unless you got supremely lucky and were able to hit sales within or right outside of big cities. Which brings me to my next point: what normal person has Spencer’s easy geographical access to both coasts?

There is no doubt that this manual has some neat tips on refurbishing and restoring, in case you don't know to prime before you paint. There is information on websites like etsy and ebay for the dozen or so folks out there who haven’t been on the internet in the past five years. Tucked within frantic rooms, there were even a few pieces that weren’t aesthetically overwhelming. But for the consummate “saler,” the yard/auction/thrift shopper etiquette was condescending and the presumption that we don’t have a clue how to haggle is kind of insulting. And I swear on everything pretty, if she says “blue-blood” or “Lucite” one more freakin’ time…

Sigh.

For people who have never been to a garage sale or flea market, I Brake for Yard Sales is a glitzy, unrealistic introduction; for those who have been in the secondhand trenches, it’s a joke. I’d like to see Spencer make the most of the castoffs from Middle America, where children’s clothes and housewares top most people’s want lists. Now that would be enlightening. ...more
2

May 16, 2012

The problem with books like this is the title is misleading. Yes, there are many amazing finds in this book that you wouldn't believe she upcycled from yard sale finds. However, there's also the uber expensive items she purchases from estate sales, etc, that people who do not have a Good Morning America funded budget could not possibly afford to buy.

I mean, a $50 lamp shaped like a crab? That's great for someone with a fat paycheck to waste space and money on. But how about the people who The problem with books like this is the title is misleading. Yes, there are many amazing finds in this book that you wouldn't believe she upcycled from yard sale finds. However, there's also the uber expensive items she purchases from estate sales, etc, that people who do not have a Good Morning America funded budget could not possibly afford to buy.

I mean, a $50 lamp shaped like a crab? That's great for someone with a fat paycheck to waste space and money on. But how about the people who actually shop at yard sales?

This book would be nice as a coffee table book. Not as an educational read, as she tries to make it. ...more
2

Aug 04, 2017

Maybe I've fallen too far down my socialist-anarchist rabbit hole to exist in the real world anymore but any excitement I had about the cute title and bright pictures of this book faded by the time I saw the term 'blue blood' bandied around for about the fortieth time by page 10. Like this woman is beyond proud of trying to garner the image of an aristocratic old-money family, and I'm just not down with it - there's a difference between loving an old world style and wanting to emulate a class of Maybe I've fallen too far down my socialist-anarchist rabbit hole to exist in the real world anymore but any excitement I had about the cute title and bright pictures of this book faded by the time I saw the term 'blue blood' bandied around for about the fortieth time by page 10. Like this woman is beyond proud of trying to garner the image of an aristocratic old-money family, and I'm just not down with it - there's a difference between loving an old world style and wanting to emulate a class of people whose very wealth and lifestyle exists because of the blue collar workers whose cast offs she's digging through flea markets and dumpsters to find, fix up, and pretend they were theirs all along. Like it's almost kind of funny if you think about it and reality doesn't depress you into an utter pancake like it's doing the rest of us these days.

IDK, whatever, I wanted a cute book about finding cool stuff re-used and rehomed and instead I got this classist opus about how important it is to look like your family comes from longstanding wealth. Blech. ...more
1

Feb 27, 2013

Not exactly what Macklemore is rapping about. The topic interested me, but this book is a little misleading. Finding a treasure at a yard sale or thrift shop is great; more should start hunting. Lara Spencer's more into (and can afford) full scale refurbishing. Many of her finds have been totally recreated, at great expense. She has a keen eye for trends and design but I found it to be overly pretentious. The book is a how to for well-off design aficionados who want to find things with good Not exactly what Macklemore is rapping about. The topic interested me, but this book is a little misleading. Finding a treasure at a yard sale or thrift shop is great; more should start hunting. Lara Spencer's more into (and can afford) full scale refurbishing. Many of her finds have been totally recreated, at great expense. She has a keen eye for trends and design but I found it to be overly pretentious. The book is a how to for well-off design aficionados who want to find things with good bones to reinvent. I couldn't relate as much as I wanted to. Too little DIY advice. ...more
2

Apr 28, 2012

Colorful, retro-trendy furniture is featured, multiple times, in different settings. Photos of the author's home, plus those of two of her friends, are shown. You can see the author posing at a flea market, and at home. Read tips for better bargain hunting. Learn a few decorating terms.

But if you don't like the decorating style (and, sadly, I didn't) it's just a colorful vanity project. Nothing particularly objectionable about this quick-and-easy book...it just wasn't my cup of varnish.
5

May 19, 2012

I really liked this book. I now have a burning desire to run out and hit up all my local yard sales, flea markets and thrift shops. Lara Spencer has some serious talent and incredible eye for potential treasures. I have even photocopied some of the pages to bring around with me. I especially appreciated her list of furniture makers to look for. It is helpful to have those names handy. My only suggestion would have been more "how to" segments for those people who would rather reupholster their I really liked this book. I now have a burning desire to run out and hit up all my local yard sales, flea markets and thrift shops. Lara Spencer has some serious talent and incredible eye for potential treasures. I have even photocopied some of the pages to bring around with me. I especially appreciated her list of furniture makers to look for. It is helpful to have those names handy. My only suggestion would have been more "how to" segments for those people who would rather reupholster their own furniture than have it sent out. Overall, I loved it! A must for anyone interested in decorating with quality items on a budget (who don't mind putting in a little elbow grease.) ...more
1

May 14, 2014

I was hoping that this would be a fun book about a kindred spirit...another lover of yard sales, estate sales, repurposing, and restyling diamonds in the rough. I was hoping for a spark of inspiration and instead I was just annoyed and irritated.

The book just didn't do it for me and that really surprised me since you would think that I would be all over this book and it's subject matter. It was unrealistic...too pretentious...and I hate to say it but condescending. I was irritated with the I was hoping that this would be a fun book about a kindred spirit...another lover of yard sales, estate sales, repurposing, and restyling diamonds in the rough. I was hoping for a spark of inspiration and instead I was just annoyed and irritated.

The book just didn't do it for me and that really surprised me since you would think that I would be all over this book and it's subject matter. It was unrealistic...too pretentious...and I hate to say it but condescending. I was irritated with the author's tone throughout the book and finished it feeling uninspired.

My Rating: Avoid it ...more
3

May 07, 2012

more like 2.5, but i'm feeling generous! just not really my style or my level of effort. i am much too lazy to do a lot of what she recommends.
1

Dec 28, 2012

I read this assuming to get ideas for how to redo junk found at yard sales. I guess that IS what it's about...I just couldn't get past the ridiculous prices that she thought were bargains!
2

May 27, 2018

I became aware of Lara Spencer due to her show "Flea Market Flip," where two competing teams purchase three items from a flea market, then make them over and re-sell them in hopes of earning a bigger profit than the other team. It's a fun, quick watch, and pretty interesting to see how makeovers can dramatically reinvent something that previously looked like junk.

Unfortunately, I did not enjoy Spencer's first book, "I Brake for Yard Sales." For starters, the obsession with being blue-blooded is I became aware of Lara Spencer due to her show "Flea Market Flip," where two competing teams purchase three items from a flea market, then make them over and re-sell them in hopes of earning a bigger profit than the other team. It's a fun, quick watch, and pretty interesting to see how makeovers can dramatically reinvent something that previously looked like junk.

Unfortunately, I did not enjoy Spencer's first book, "I Brake for Yard Sales." For starters, the obsession with being blue-blooded is a tad unpleasant. How many times is that word said over the course of the book?! It's clumsy writing, on top of the awkwardness of her pronounced fixation. Spencer rarely mentions how much upholstery or wiring work added to each piece's cost, and frequently admits that something cost "a pretty penny." Isn't it common sense that if someone is buying a book about upcycling inexpensive yard sale finds, they probably don't have the luxury of splurging, repeatedly, in every room? I'm guessing there aren't many Kathy Griffins who'll pick up a book about dumpster diving.

It doesn't seem Spencer quite had her intended audience figured out here. Her second book, "Flea Market Fabulous," doesn't fix all of these problems, but is a marked improvement over her first stab at writing. ...more
5

Aug 14, 2013

I picked this up thinking it might be something interesting to page through while on the can.
I l.o.v.e.d this book and I am not sure why as I have no design bone in my body. But I am a frugal garage sale junkie. I'm now convinced that my next house can be decorated via yard sales and the antique mall up the street with all the stuff in it from dead people. But I'm going to totally dig driving my husband nuts with this for the time being.

Some ideas I like...
- framed wallpaper. Never thought off I picked this up thinking it might be something interesting to page through while on the can.
I l.o.v.e.d this book and I am not sure why as I have no design bone in my body. But I am a frugal garage sale junkie. I'm now convinced that my next house can be decorated via yard sales and the antique mall up the street with all the stuff in it from dead people. But I'm going to totally dig driving my husband nuts with this for the time being.

Some ideas I like...
- framed wallpaper. Never thought off it.
- the iron train focal point on a kitchen island and minimalistic everywhere else in the room.
- small chairs reupholstered or stained..I can do that
- I kind of dig the elephant wicker bar. Who cares if everyone else disliked it. My friends will be drunk anyway.

I liked this book. I think Lara Spencer is so swell, I didn't mind the unrealistic premise because most people can't fly all over the country and don't have houses on each coast to store the stuff. ...more
5

Aug 17, 2013

I loved this book! I love to decorate but try to live on a budget. It was great to see how you can decorate a great room and save lots of money. I shop thrift stores, yard sales and have been know to use spray paint and a sheet to re-do a chair or piece of furniture. This book gave me ideas to look for. Shared what is considered a good piece and worthwhile to buy and what is not. How to share different periods in your rooms for a put together and interesting look. How one or two high end pieces I loved this book! I love to decorate but try to live on a budget. It was great to see how you can decorate a great room and save lots of money. I shop thrift stores, yard sales and have been know to use spray paint and a sheet to re-do a chair or piece of furniture. This book gave me ideas to look for. Shared what is considered a good piece and worthwhile to buy and what is not. How to share different periods in your rooms for a put together and interesting look. How one or two high end pieces will help the second hand pieces look even better than they are.

Now if only I could clone myself to finish my craft room and the neat things I have been working on and planning. I have spray paint and book shelf to finish! If you like decorating and saving money and having a great looking home, this book is for you! ...more
2

May 16, 2013

A Quickie Review

Based on the title, you might think that this book is right up my alley. However, Ms. Spencer really talks about finding home decor and furniture at yard sales and such, whereas I usually buy entertainment. Some of her tips ring true no matter what you shop for, and the photography is well-done...but it isn't quite what I was expecting.

Content Concerns: Some profanity/euphemisms (a d-word, "freaking") as well as a few crude expressions ("put on your big girl panties," etc.) The A Quickie Review

Based on the title, you might think that this book is right up my alley. However, Ms. Spencer really talks about finding home decor and furniture at yard sales and such, whereas I usually buy entertainment. Some of her tips ring true no matter what you shop for, and the photography is well-done...but it isn't quite what I was expecting.

Content Concerns: Some profanity/euphemisms (a d-word, "freaking") as well as a few crude expressions ("put on your big girl panties," etc.) The author herself is shown wearing some rather short skirts, and one page has a nude--though not photorealistic--painting by Picasso.

Score: 2.5/5 ...more
4

Feb 27, 2016

While this book is more a coffee table style book with pictorial ideas to inspire, it is definitely a quick read and does have some good tips for shopping flea markets, yard sales, and online auctions. I enjoyed the different styles and while this author's style ideas would realistically be out of my price range a lot of the time (spending $100 to have something professionally painted?)I did like looking at high end items mixed with low end. She obviously has a great eye for style and what makes While this book is more a coffee table style book with pictorial ideas to inspire, it is definitely a quick read and does have some good tips for shopping flea markets, yard sales, and online auctions. I enjoyed the different styles and while this author's style ideas would realistically be out of my price range a lot of the time (spending $100 to have something professionally painted?)I did like looking at high end items mixed with low end. She obviously has a great eye for style and what makes a room flow well together. It's a very eclectic style so not for everyone but this book may just get your creative juices flowing. ...more
2

Oct 03, 2012

As another review said, she does overuse the term "blue-blood" and I find it obnoxious. There is some okay advice in here but nothing too eye opening. She has some amazing finds but it really isn't too down to earth for the average person to expect. Also her savings is unrealistic. I looked into reupholstering a family chair with "good bones" that I loved once and it was way too pricey - you could easily just buy a new chair for the cost of re-doing one. Not worth it in my opinion unless it is As another review said, she does overuse the term "blue-blood" and I find it obnoxious. There is some okay advice in here but nothing too eye opening. She has some amazing finds but it really isn't too down to earth for the average person to expect. Also her savings is unrealistic. I looked into reupholstering a family chair with "good bones" that I loved once and it was way too pricey - you could easily just buy a new chair for the cost of re-doing one. Not worth it in my opinion unless it is something truly valuable to restore. Overall, I didn't enjoy this one. ...more
4

Apr 16, 2013

An inspiring and helpful book for those interested in repurposing, upcycling and interior design. Lara Spencer knows her way around a flea market and isn't afraid to brag about her secondhand finds. It's not so much a how-to book as it a visual stimulus for creative ideas. Still, I'd say that for any secondhand treasure hunter looking to turn their humble abode into a fashionable and functioning place to live...this book has a lot to offer.
3

Aug 26, 2012

Full of glossy, pretty photos and short spurts of blurb/caption-style text that made it fun to flip through like a magazine, but it's all about interior design finds, 90% of which are furniture. Plus it took me half the book to stop laughing at the prices she bragged about, many of which were what I would expect to pay for a brand new piece - one I didn't have to then spend extra time and money "fixing."
2

Jun 02, 2015

This is a fun book, and I did get some good ideas from it. If you've watched her shows, there's not much new information in here. Also, I found the 'blue blood' theme running though the book to be annoying after a while. And while the book is only about three year's old, some of the website information is a little out of date.

This is a good book to pick up if you need a little design inspiration.
3

Jul 05, 2012

I could have lost all respect for author Lara Spencer in choosing Kathy Griffin as her intro author. Leave it to Kathy to take something as innocent as going to a yard sale and make it dirty. While this book was very fun to look at, it is another "difficult to implement" decorating book. Cute graphics on pages make it easy to read her helpful hints regarding the art of yard sale-ing. But I long for a decorating book that I can actually transfer easily into my own home.
2

Sep 27, 2012

I was disappointed in this book. I should have trusted the reviews on Goodreads and Amazon. It was horribly written. She couldn't seem to find another synonym for "blue bloods" as she used it so many times it was nauseating. The one thing I did like about the book was the recommendation about visiting yard sales in older neighborhoods to find the good stuff. I tend to go to the newer suburbs and am disappointed. I did love her show on HGTV though.
5

Jul 15, 2012

Unlike many books of this kind, I was pleased with the way this one handled the subject. I often feel that an author is just showing off all their wonderful finds, which you, of course, will never be able to re-create or even imitate. While she certainly shares some success stories, Lara also gives some quite useful tips and manages to communicate a little of the fun of the hunt.
3

Jun 09, 2013

I really enjoyed seeing all the design choices Lara made in this book. I also liked all the tips she gave for haggling, flea market shopping, and just basic tips on what to look for in antiques.

I do wish she would have provided more resources on places to shop. There are handful listed, but really not much listed in the midwest.
5

May 02, 2012

I really enjoyed this book because it explores a style of design which is not usually found in books about flea market decor. The photos are great and the designs and projects are realistic though a bit pricier than traditional flea market decor. Recommended for those who like modern, transitional and Hollywood Regency decor. Nice resources though focused on NYC/CT and CA.
2

Jun 20, 2016

I usually love this kind of book. I enjoy flea markets and love to use items for other than intended purposes. This book was almost strange in that she's going to flea markets, seems like she enjoys them but still manages an almost condescending tone.
I'm really sad that after reading it, I don't think I can view her show the same again.

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