Although the Blackbird girls are always on the lookout for great things, sometimes an unexpected junk find brings more joy than a day's worth of carefully sought out pieces. However, those unexpected finds are often fickle little fiends. You see it, that perfect item, across a dimly lit thrift store. Your heart pounds. You hear harps and twittering birds as you leap in slow motion toward it. And then you realize that it won't fit in the car. Or you have no way to wrap it so that it doesn't disintegrate on the bumpy drive home. You. Can't. Buy. It.
Don't let this heartache happen to you! Be prepared for your junk. Here is our little survival guide, a list of things to keep in your car (for those spontaneous lunch hour trips), or in a bag by the back door (for those pre-planned buying trips). Follow these tips, and you could be a Junk Master (similar to a Jedi, but with much less fighting).
1. Canvas drop cloth with plastic lining--These are relatively inexpensive at a hardware store, and just as important, can be folded and stored in almost any nook in your car (wheel well, door pocket, under the seat). Canvas cloths are great for wrapping around framed items, furniture, small pieces of concrete, or rusty metal items. It protects what it needs to, and is durable enough to not be punctured by sharp bits on your item. You can also use these cloths to protect your car if you buy dirty things. Just lay the cloth flat, and put your items on top. A couple of bonus uses: lay down on the ground if you are changing a tire, or use it as a picnic cloth when the grass is slightly damp. The plastic lining will keep you dry.
2. Blanket--This should be a blanket that has thoroughly lived life, but doesn't have large holes. Like the drop cloth, you can use it to wrap framed items and furniture. You can also use the blanket as a barrier between items so that they don't rattle against each other. Drape it over the legs of a chair so that they don't scratch or dent something when you take that corner on two wheels. Lay it over the edge of your trunk or rear hatch so that your car doesn't get scratched or dented when you're maneuvering items in or out. Blankets are also handy for tire changing, picnics, or when the heater breaks in the dead of winter and you're 800 miles from home.
3. Flat head screwdriver--Why a screwdriver? You can avoid a lot of heartache by taking things apart before trying to fit them in the car. Once, on the last day of a buying trip, we decided to stop at one last place (just to stretch our legs--promise!). Twenty minutes later, we were in the parking lot, furiously unpacking the car all over the asphalt so that we could figure out how to fit our newest find in with everything else. Most of the time, a little rearranging is all you need. But this time, it was a no-go. Until I remembered that the never-used Car Care Kit under the back seat included a tiny set of screwdrivers. We took the item apart, repacked the car, and were on our way within minutes. Most older items with screws are going to require a flat head screwdriver. It is best to have a small and a medium, but if you have to choose, go with the medium. If something has tiny screws, it is probably small enough to fit in the car without taking it apart. A medium screwdriver, with the right finesse, can be used on large screws as well. HOT TIP: If you need to remove large screws, and your flat head screwdriver is at home on the kitchen table, use a dime. I recently removed the hinges from an old door with a dime (believe it or not, those hinges were all that stood between us and a perfectly packed car).
4. Phillips screwdriver--Well, sometimes you need a Phillips. This screw style is newer, so you are less likely to encounter these on old items. But, sometimes you find a newer item that you love. I have also been in the process of dismantling an item, feeling cocky as I'm turning that third screw, only to find that some yahoo replaced the fourth screw with a Phillips. Yes, one little screw can ruin a perfect plan. While it is possible to use a small flat head screwdriver on a Phillips screw, it is also really really possible to ruin the screw head so that it can't be removed. Ever. Just save yourself the anger and stock your screwdriver stash.
5. Newspaper--Keep a small stack of folded newspaper for those dish-buying emergencies. A lot of thrift stores don't keep paper on hand to wrap your purchases. They will drop everything into a thin plastic bag and send you on your way. If you have newspaper under the seat, you can wrap your delicate items before the trip home.
6. A box--Depending on the size of your car, this can be a plastic tote, a milk crate, a cardboard box (broken down and flat, if you like), or an old suitcase. When you find yourself standing in the parking lot, wrapping your own dishes (see #5), it's nice to have a place to put them so they don't roll around. This is also good for lamp purchases.
7. Bungee cords--For strapping things down so that they don't shift, or for securing something to the luggage rack. If I have to lay down my back seats, I like to weave some bungee cords from the right to the left (attached to the rear seat belts) so that things don't come flying into the back of my head if I need to hit the brakes with some urgency.
8. Tape measure--Really good for making sure that something has even the hope of fitting in your car (and also fitting in your house when you get it there).