This is it, friends,the kickoff of the season. It's just before 7AM as I write this post, the sun is glaring in my face here on Cape Cod, and my yard sale shopping companion is five minutes from a shower. Life is good.

If you're going out on the circuit this morning, I'd love to hear from you. If you're still on the yard sale learning curve, here are a few suggestions.

A few days ago, I mentioned bringing assorted denominations of cash. Also bring your checkbook. Often - though certainly not always - sellers will take a local check, particularly on a larger item.

If you haven't already acquired it, you will want to invest in a detailed street map of your sale areas. There's nothing more frustrating than wandering around in circles, particularly these days with gas at such a premium. And yes, as many bloggers wrote this week, many of us will be staying closer to home this season.

If your plan includes flea market shopping, understand that it's more strenuous than yard sale shopping. The car will be more than a few steps away and hopefully you will be carrying some finds as you continue to hunt. Consider a backpack or a mesh or canvas bag with a handle. I keep a couple of folding plastic ponchos in my glove compartment. It's nice not to be slowed down by a little drizzle. If you're on the lookout for fragiles, it can also help to have some packing materials in the car.

Collectors bring specific tools, like a magnet for testing metals, and a magnifying glass. Experts know how to clean and rejuvenate everything from plastic to clothes to metals and old wood. For those of us a little less sophisticated, and perhaps more household than collector oriented, there is a limited array of cleaning materials that will accommodate most of what a practical yard saler will buy. These include: glass cleaner, alcohol, jewelry cleaner, silver and brass polish, Murphy's oil soap, GOOGONE (I'm serious! it does just what it says it does - gets rid of sticky labels etc.), a pile of rags, steel wool, and - if at all possible - a handyman at home. A yard sale shoppers best friend is often her dishwasher.

If you're hunting the big items (we are this morning - the grand prize would be an armoire), it's great if you have a phone number of a man with a truck. On the other hand, if you're really serious, you already have the truck.

Happy hunting!


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