La Basura De Unos Es El Tesoro De Otros

One Person’s Trash Is Another’s Treasure

Garage Sale buying

Inspired by a gringa named Sra. Lopez who runs one of the most compelling Hispanic-interest blogs on the World Wide Web (, centered on her life as a Caucasian-Latina, I had to write about our obsession as Latinos with being frugal and always finding deals wherever we go, at least in my world.  Her latest post, If they buy it, sell it, pues, explored her suegra’s overzealous joy with receiving trash bags full of used clothing and how she finds a use for everything inside, even the lingerie.

A very entertaining read like most things blogged about by Sra. Lopez.

Plus it got me thinking about my own madrecita who coincidentally has very good luck with garage sales all the time.  You could ride in the same car with her, stop and shop at all of the same houses, and spend the exact same amount of money, and she would still come back with more and better things than you, literally.  The used pairs of shoes,  50 cents each, electronics past their prime yet still in working condition, furniture, items of clothing, or whatever else, there is a science to the way she shops.  Not for herself or the luxury of shopping, but for others and for business.  Like la gringa’s suegra, she gives away whatever can be recycled within her circle of family and friends and sells the rest, here and in Mexico.  In fact, her garage sales have garnered quite the reputation in Cerritos, San Luis Potosi for offering quality items at the cost of just a few pesos.  People even place orders with her now!

That mentality of utilizing every last thing, wasting nothing, is embedded in our genes.  Until a few years ago I had rarely ever bought anything just for decoration or to have.  If it did not have a purpose, I did not need it.  Still, even though my wife has introduced the concept of decorative items, I can’t bring myself to buy a brand new pair of jeans for $60.  Instead you’ll find me at the clearance section of most stores rummaging through sizes to find a descent pair on sale for no more than $20, and that’s pushing it, or at what my own suegra refers to as Our Macys – second hand stores, which may I say are so hugely underrated, doing the same thing.  In our home, paying full price for anything is to be avoided at all costs.  And yes, maybe it is just cheap, but it always feels great to buy things below their retail value.

It’s not just me either.  Weekends in my neighborhood, mostly Mexican, are truly a free for all with garage sales opening up as early as Thursday and running through Sunday afternoon, almost always selling out of all but the least desirable items.  No deed restrictions, thank God…and one of the main reasons it’s easy to call my barrio home.  There is something about knowing that you can take a few of the things you have but don’t need and selling them for a few bucks when you are strapped for cash that makes us feel productive, savvy, smart – luchistas. And what is better than being luchista, a fighter who never gives up.  The same applies to giving away what others could use better than us.  It just feels good.

Gracias Sra. Lopez for the validation!

4 thoughts on “La Basura De Unos Es El Tesoro De Otros

  1. I love this one, and not just because I’m so generously mentioned several times 🙂

    This past week we went “Back to School” shopping. My oldest son is 12 and we want him to look nice and be “in style”, (for younger kids it doesn’t matter as much), but there is no way I’m buying the full priced fashions. ($20 for ONE shirt? ‘Sta loco!)

    We went to Goodwill and for $25, we got 7 shirts, (a couple were name brand and the others are “cool” looking.)

    For jeans, we’ve been shopping “clearance” racks. This took some patience, but we picked up fashionable looking dark colored jeans, at various stores for prices ranging from $2 to $7 per pair.

    My 12 yr. old is just as excited about the deals as we are, of course, he’s been trained well by his abuela, (my suegra!) … All those Saturday mornings “yard-saleando” have made him appreciate a good find at a good price 🙂

  2. Man, I used to love searching for “the deal” or finding old stuff at Goodwill and repurposing it (with some good spray paint!). Or even just hitting up Wal-marts. There are no Wal-marts near me in DC. So sad 🙁 And with a kid and work, I usually just grab stuff and put in the cart without even looking at the price anymore. I know, shameful.

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