You know a tag sale is going to be good when you hear people are driving from Seattle, San Francisco and even all the way from Oklahoma just to frequent it.
Welcome to Magpie Ethel’s Annual Garage Sale.
Allow me to back up for a minute.
Laurie Romanaggi is the woman behind both the business/social media name of Magpie Ethel and a crafting/vintage empire, and I first got to know her through her sales at Crafty Wonderland and Laurelhurst Bazaar.
It’s a little hard to explain what Laurie does but a hint lies in her Instagram and Etsy handle of Magpie Ethel; the former name alludes to her propensity to pick up shiny little curiosities, the latter an homage and a sign of her adoration and reverence of vintage things, be they names, fonts, objects, and ideas.
Laurie’s a visual artist who takes all kinds of authentic vintage pieces and combines them in ways that feel both quintessentially modern and sweetly nostalgic at the same time.
Perhaps you’ve come across Laurie before. She has those Etsy shops: E is for Ethel is where she sells her vintage finds, and Magpie Ethel is where she sells her crafted creations using vintage supplies.
And then there’s her Instagram account which has nearly 25K followers.
It’s because I follow her on IG that I first heard of her sale held last weekend. The countdown to the sale was accompanied with photos that got many of us followers intrigued, and once I realized that I’d be in town, I texted a neighbor, Linda, to see if she wanted to come with Charlotte and me.
Regular readers will remember Linda as she was kind enough to share with me her formidable vintage collection some months back
and since Linda and I always seem to bump into each other at Laurie’s booth at the aforementioned craft sales, I had the feeling she’d be up for a visit here.
Turns out Laurie has been living in the same house in Eastmoreland for 20 years; this beautifully sleepy, leafy enclave that surrounds Reed College is one of my favorite neighborhoods in Portland, and every year it hosts a neighborhood garage sale that includes one hundred or more houses.
I’ve been to this Eastmoreland Garage Sale in the past, but never for long and never to Laurie’s sale; the Eastmoreland sale is the same day as the Laurelhurst Garage Sale which is a lot closer to me, so that’s the neighborhood I tend to focus on this particular weekend.
Trust me, I would have remembered this kind of vintage sale.
Laurie switched from Eastmoreland Garage Sale customer to seller six years ago, and as an avid estate sale buyer and High Priestess of Junking, she shops all year for this sale, and almost everything she sells there is vintage and 100% awesome.
Knowing that interest in this sale would be feverish and wanting to to get pictures before everything was snapped up, I jumped on Laurie’s offer to come a little early and beat the heat.
Turns out the temperature soon rolled into the triple digits and had I waited til mid-morning, the high temps and crowds would have been disastrous for me as I’m walking around in an orthopedic boot.
So the three of us headed over early Saturday morning.
Doesn’t Laurie look adorable in her glasses?
She co-hosted the sale with a dear friend of hers named Amy; she’s a junking buddy who can also be found on Etsy here and has a booth at one of my favorite places for vintage in all of Portland, the amazing Monticello Antique Marketplace (I showed you that place here).
There was so much to look at.
First, I dropped off treats to these two gals, knowing that they’d have a very full day ahead of them and might not have go-to nibbles on hand.
I gave them a half dozen Radicchio and Pesto Frittatas
and Anzac Cookies.
(These cookies are my current favorite and you can find the recipe for them here.)
Because both Laurie and Amy have terrific taste and flair for merchandising, the sale was beautifully laid out and everywhere you looked there were the most interesting and adorable things.
Vintage jars, canisters, games and puzzles and decorations.
There was clothing and umbrellas and linens and furniture and garden objects.
So many interesting things everywhere we looked.
And so many unique holiday items, especially Christmas: candles, ornaments, displays, plates and more.
While Laurie and Amy continued to set up, Linda and I perused, and I took more pics, marveling at the breadth and scope of the sale.
Look at this funny little box.
Charlotte and I also spent some time going through the phenomenal vintage card collection on display (all the cards sold for a quarter apiece).
I’m not sure what I’m going to do with the cards I bought; some are used, some are pristine, but they all sport such interesting pics and fonts that I’m sure they’ll be put to good use somehow, some day.
I mean, C’mon.
We all had a blast, and after paying for our treasures we took a little tour in Laurie’s backyard and plotted the rest of our garage sale-ing morning.
Looks like someone in the window was keeping an eye on things.
Seriously, her yard is adorable and so cheery.
Laurie’s genius is not just finding the most amazing treasures everywhere she goes, but in taking charming pieces in less-than-optimal state and re-purposing them beautifully — and in so many unexpected ways.
We bid our goodbyes and hit the road just as the crowds started to come en masse.
Laurie later told me she thought that she and Amy had about a thousand people come by, some just because of the neighborhood sale but also so many others came because they follow Laurie or Amy on Instagram.
Like that vintage lover/IG follower who made that road trip from Oklahoma just to come to this sale.
Yes, people in the know are willing to drive thousands of miles to come to this sale, and having now been to my first one, I get what the hoopla is all about.
I could see that Linda had just as much fun as we did, checking out every little thing, including these dolls.
She also found some more treasures to bring home.
The stockings were fantastic!
And look at these, still in the bag.
Curious as to what I brought home?
You should be.
In no particular order, here are my Magpie Ethel Garage Sale finds.
First up, here’s a small pile of those vintage greeting cards I told you about.
And then there’s a darling vintage box I found which will probably hold straws or marshmallows during the holidays.
A slew of characters I’m going to share or gift to friends.
An adorable reindeer that’ll probably sit on my porch or linen couch in December.
He’s surprisingly big — about 18 inches tall– and I love his felt eyes.
I also brought home a polka dot shirt that I LOVE.
The very best vintage Sears has to offer (made in Japan!).
Decorated cones, with vintage paper and tinsel, ideal for draping over a doorknob, be it my own or a neighbor’s.
Vintage candles, which I love to put on my mantle or on a kitchen shelf.
A pretty little ivory felted fawn.
This scrappy, junky dustbin that’s seen better days but the colors are still so bright
and will look right at home alongside my vintage kitchen.
And then last but not least, my two favorite things I brought home with me.
A vintage Santa which is similar to one I brought home from the Goodwill Bins last year, but slightly different and it came with its own box.
And then perhaps my favorite thing of all — something I’ve never come across before.
A rubberized holiday mat, probably from the 50’s?
I can’t wait to pull it out early December; the colors are so bright and the font just smack-dab delicious.
So, thanks to Linda who drove Charlotte and I over and poked around all those bins with us.
Thanks to Charlotte who scoped things out while I took pics; knowing that all these items will most likely end up with her, I let her pick out anything that suited her fancy.
And most of all a huge shout out to the very talented Laurie and Amy for opening up your yard, your home and your finds with all of us. There was such a fun vibe and you offered great prices on such unique pieces.
It was like the Best Estate Sale I’ve ever been. Ever.
Now it’s up to the hundreds of us who were there to bring back these finds to our homes and create new objects or traditions of our own.
So remember this, friends.
Every year the weekend after Father’s Day this garage sale awaits.
So if that means you need to crank up the RV, buy a plane ticket or if you’re lucky and you just need to drive across town, do it.
Get there– you have to check this sale out.
And vintage fans, here’s a bit of news: I’ll be sitting down with Laurie sometime early in the fall.
I’ll learn more about she works and visit the studio that has all us slobbering at our keyboards every time a glimpse is made available on her blog or IG.
Can’t hardly wait.