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Looking for deals at a garage sale with designer labels

In Clarence, it’s a twist to the old adage. A Spaulding Lake resident’s trash is another’s designer handbag. Or antique vase. Or even a hot tub.

But even sellers who live in half-million dollar homes can end up at the mercy of a bargain hunter.

“People are expecting better things because of the neighborhood,” said Jan Shine of Lakestone Court.

Still, “people really come for a deal,” she said.

The annual neighborhood garage sale continues today in the upscale Clarence development, home to some of the area’s wealthiest and best known residents, including doctors, a congressman, and current and retired Buffalo Sabres hockey players.

So more than your average garage sale fare is up for grabs. In Spaulding Lake, the caliber of the wares and the size of the deals are a cut above those at other garage sales happening across Western New York this weekend, as can be expected at homes with three and four garage doors.

Shine, a Spaulding Lake resident for 18 years, can be considered a garage-sale veteran. Friday, she and her two-person sales team worked the floor of her driveway-turned-showroom, greeting passers-by and haggling over the prices of everything from pet supplies to sporting equipment, as well as a full spread of designer and replica handbags.

Shine’s experience and vigorous salesmanship paid off in a big way two years ago, when she raked in $2,900, including $600 for a desk. Despite those eye-popping profits, Shine said most shoppers do not come to Spaulding Lake ready or willing to shell out big bucks.

Shine recalls charging $30 for an item originally worth $350, only to have a determined shopper ask her to lower the price to $10.

Street signage and online advertisements posted by the Spaulding Lake Association announced the sale would start at 9 a.m., but smart shoppers knew to arrive early.

Dr. Robert S. Bates, of Cobblestone Drive, saw shoppers perusing his offerings a full hour before the scheduled start.

“I opened the doors at 8, came out and saw people coming up the driveway,” said Bates, a dentist.

Elsewhere on Cobblestone Drive, a trailer hitched to a minivan contained a family’s garage-sale haul: a lawn mower, a PVC pipe hockey net and an air conditioning window unit, among other finds. The minivan shared curb space with residents’ Jaguars, Hummers, and high-end Chryslers.

The lack of sidewalks in Spaulding Lake did not deter bargain hunters from sweeping the neighborhood on foot. Shoppers crossed lawns and walked along the streets as others combed the neighborhood in their cars looking for a place to park and a sale to explore.

By 10 a.m., many sellers had already parted with their best merchandise. But the steady flow of shoppers persisted into the afternoon, buoyed by the picture-perfect weather.

Sheryl Daniels, of Kenmore, accompanied by her four children and two aunts, heard about the sale from a friend. Daniels browsed through items in Shine’s driveway and took note of the neighborhood’s beautiful homes and manicured landscapes, which added to Spaulding Lake’s appeal as a bargain-hunting destination.

“It’s a very nice, well-to-do area,” she said.

Her steal of the day?

She paid $8 for a brand-new leather garment bag that would have retailed closer to $100.

A hot tub one seller uprooted from her bathroom attracted considerable attention. By 10 a.m., two people had expressed interest in buying it, provided they could find a way to get it home.

For his part, Bates welcomed the surge of bargain hunters. He viewed the sale as a chance to purge his attic and basement of clutter.