Shopping at Garage Sales

I love garage sales, but I also like saving my money on junk. I always take my iced water along for days when the weather forecast calls for hot, humid weather. It is also good to keep a tape measure and bungee ties in the car for measuring items and hauling them away. Always take the time to thoroughly inspect an item you are interested in, it is better to spot a stain before you buy than after.


I always ask if they will take less and make an offer, be careful you don't insult the host and forfeit the purchase. If an item is the wrong color, I ask myself if it's worth painting or reupholstering, most times the answer is "yes".

For every piece of furniture I bring home, I give or sell another one. This way I don't crowd out my living space. With furniture you should look for "good bones"; will it still be useful in ten years? Can I easily and inexpensively re-do the piece? Where will I put it?

I budget money for the day, once the money is gone, so is the garage saling experience. Have fun this summer.

By yoder178 from Elkhart, IN


July 23, 20100 found this helpful

Good tip. The only thing I'd add is, have an idea what you really want/need before you set out. Write it down if necessary. It won't eliminate impulse buys, but might cut down on them a bit.

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Tips from our readers about shopping at garage sales. Post your ideas below!

Knowledge Is Power

Visiting yard sales can be especially fun and often profitable for collectors. My mom collected tea pots, and I have friends and other relatives who collect knives, old fishing hooks, lures, and other tackle, etc. If you are interested in any sort of collectible item the most important thing is to know all you can about your subject. It is amazing how often people sell items with no idea what they're worth on the market, and that plain old fishing lure or pocket knife being sold for a dollar might be quite valuable. Also, original packaging is often important and can increase the value of an item considerably.


Happy hunting!

By Alph

Map Out Your Route

We sometimes have up to 100 yard sales on a weekend advertised in the newspaper. We clip out the ad and highlight the ones that interest us. We have a city map that is laminated. We take the list and a marker, and mark the location of each yard sale we want to visit. Then we map out the most efficient route and number each location. Eliminates discovering that the 5th yard sale on your list is half a block from the first one you visited.

By Harlean from Arkansas

Pick Up Silver

My favorite thing to look for at yard sales is silver trays, candle holders, etc. I have a huge tote filled with those items and in helping friends and family decorate for weddings, etc. they have really made the food table look elegant. No one knows they came from a yard sale.

By MamawKC

Co-Op Garage Sale

A friend of mine told me about a lady in Lexington, KY who has a huge garage/consignment sale twice a year (Spring and Summer/Fall and Winter). She has regular clients who bring her baby and children's clothes, toys, accessories, etc. She will not take anything stained, torn or dirty, all in top notch condition. They must be tagged individually and ready to sell on hangers, with a list compiled of what was brought. She runs a newspaper ad and makes money helping other women sell their quality used clothes, etc. After the sale, the client must return to pick up their items and money . Thought I'd share this with you so that others can do the same.

By Money

Bring Cash

Bring cash to garage sales so that you can bargain. Make sure to bring some change and small bills, too. They won't always have a lot of change.

By Linda

Neighborhoods Not Necessarily Better

My mother and I use to believe that we would find higher quality items or better bargains from garage sales in the area's upper income neighborhoods. We found out that their items weren't any better and were priced much higher than they should have been.

By BarbMoore

A Successful Day Garage Saleing

Coordinating: I make a list of things that I and other family members want/need and keep the list in my purse/car. When going garage saleing with others, we exchange lists so we cover more territory. When going to a town wide garage sale, my hubby and I split up and carry a set of walkie talkies to let the other person know when something interesting is found, a GPS will also work to mark the spot at a fleamarket.

Supplies:Put a deep carry bag in the car so you don't have to keep making trips back to the car every time you buy something. Also carry a small measuring tape with you and a list of sizes for the mattress, table top, clothing, etc. Put a spare screwdriver and pliers in the car in case you need to take something apart to make it fit in the trunk. Might as well throw in a rope too!

Best Buys: Church rummage sales and garage sales put on by organizations. Logic: people don't have a "vested" or emotional interest in the items, they only want to move the goods and get the money. These are people you can dicker with!

Bargaining: Instead of running down an item or saying "I'll give you $... for it", I chit chat a bit with the seller and crack a small joke or two. If I want to get an item for less money, I ask "would you accept $... for this?" If they laugh at your jokes, they'll come down in price. It's never failed me yet!

Avoid Confusion: If someone is willing to come down on the price, pay them on the spot and stick the item in your car or one of the seller's bags. This will save confusion and problems over the price later if there are a number of other people at the sale doing the same thing.

By Goosetrax

Plan Neighborhood Garage Sales

If you're having a garage sale, see if any of your neighbors are planning one too. The more people in the same area that are having them, the better. Sure, you get a bit of competition but if you advertise for a community sale, you'll have cars lined up for blocks and people will hit almost all the sales ;-)

By ButteryHOLsomeness

Garage Sale Appearance And Other Tips

Please make your sale look presentable. If you sit all of your unpacked boxes out and throw some stuff on a blanket, don't wonder why people keep driving by and not looking. Separate clothes in sizes if possible. Clean your treasures; you'll make more money. Don't put out things that even Goodwill wouldn't take.

I personally have never found anything worth buying in our nicer neighborhoods. Those people normally do not go to yard sales. Therefore, they don't know how to have one either. They may have a shower curtain priced for $20 when the most we would pay at a yard sale is $5, and that is if it is in exceptional condition!

Price your stuff for goodness sakes. Nobody wants to ask twenty times the price of every item! If you find something at a store not priced, more than likely you don't get it because the price is the deciding factor. Don't go yard sale-ing with all $20's. Take smaller bills and change. Last, but not least, don't try to talk them down on their price at 7 a.m.

By Suzi Homemaker

Take Your Signs Down!

This is more for the people having the sales. Please take your signs down! I hate chasing down a sale only to find out it was from the week before.

By Shirley

Pick Up Items

Something I've noticed people doing at sales I've held is that they will pick up several items and continue to walk around. Of course I'm thinking I've made a sale on the items. But then a few minutes later, I'll see them walking away empty handed. I finally figured out they were still deciding on the items as they shopped, but then decided not to buy. It is aggravating when it's your sale because maybe someone else would have bought it if it had still been on the table. There have also been times that I've missed out on something I may have wanted because I didn't have it in my hand and someone else scooped it up. I've learned to apply the technique myself, as well as to watch the other person who is carrying around something I want, they may end up putting it down after all.

By marinewife5

Prioritize Your Shopping

Approaching the garage sale, I scan it quickly and make a bee-line for the collectible type items first. I always pick up and hold on to anything I even think I want. I always like to check out the books but save that for last. I also look at the children's clothes right away as I have young children. My children wear a lot of garage sale clothes and they always look nice! So, check out the items of interest to you the most, first! Also, nice used children's clothes sell very well on eBay, especially girl's clothes!

Happy garage-saling!

By Debbie52

Bring a List, Not Kids

Take a tape measure, a list of what items you are looking for/needing, sizes, etc. Leave the kids with the sitter. In my experience, kids and sales don't go together.

By AnnMel

Gifts at Garage Sales

I see nothing wrong with using nice, like new garage sale items as gifts. Santa has given our young children many wonderful items that came from garage sales and many were brand new, never used! I find things all Summer that I can use for Christmas, Easter baskets, etc. Sometimes I buy little cheap items to use as incentives and rewards.

By Debbie52

Garage Sale Tips

Go early, or late, depending on what's more important to you, price or selection. Lots of churches and community organizations will lower the price to half at a certain time or have "bag" sales. The early birds might catch the prize but the latecomers might get a better price.

Always take plenty of small bills and coins. You don't want to ask someone to lower their price then hand them a large bill asking for change. "Zoom in" for items of special interest to you, then look at the rest of the items so you don't miss out on what you really need.

Always be respectful of the people's items and of them, they don't have to lower their prices, it's their choice. Fair price has a different meaning to everyone. If you go for the duration, take a bottle of ice water and sandwich or a snack so you don't end up spending your savings on lunch, lol!

By kidsNclutter

My 3 Rules

I have been a garage sale addict for years, but something just dawned on me, so I need to share it with you.

  1. Rule Number One: Don't buy what you don't need.
  2. Rule Number Two: Hit the ones in the nicer neighborhoods first.
  3. Rule Number Three: Go very early, and then go very late. The earlier you get there the better the pickin's. The later you go, the better the prices.

By Ardis Barnes

My 2 Cents

  1. If I can't find your sale easily, I'll give up hunting for it. Give me arrows (on the same color paper you used for your main sign) to show me the way every block or so. (if you don't live on the main street).
  2. Rich neighborhood or poor, in my opinion there isn't that much difference in prices. I've found fantastic deals in both areas. I tend to search the rich neighborhoods first because the items they get rid of tend to be under used. Then I'll hit the other neighborhoods. I still find treasures there too.
  3. The tip about don't buy what you don't need is so true. Just because it's cheap, it will just add to your clutter if it's not something you can immediately use or give away to someone else.

By Kidseatfree


Shopping at Garage Sales

Here are my tips:

1. Bring a fanny pack so that your hands are free.

2. Bring along a small tape measure.

3. Have sizes of your children (winter boots, coats, clothes), windows, etc on an index card in your fanny pack.

4. Carry a canvas tote if you are walking a neighborhood sale to carry your small items around.

5. You have more bargaining power if you are attempting to purchase several items. (05/12/2005)

By Pattcatt

Shopping at Garage Sales

Although I love garage sales - I am a collector - so I limit myself to sales I run into on my daily rounds - and don't go too much out of my way for them! You'd be surprised at what I have come upon by chance - and that makes it FUN. (03/02/2007)

By pamphyila

Shopping at Garage Sales

I have much better luck at average homes(and trailers), people just want to get rid of it. Wealthy homes have high prices and almost always have remodeling items(they don't want to pay to remove it). The best are certainly church sales! They usually give you a great deal, and its a good cause, so you can give a little extra!
It is so true about the signs...take them down!! I waste so much fuel looking for a sale that is long over! (03/04/2007)

By starchild in VT

Shopping at Garage Sales

I am also a garage sale addict. Every Wed. the garage sales are in the newspaper where I live, then again on Friday (which more will be added). I then take a highlighter and I number each one that I know will have what I am looking for. One area is an upper crust area, and it never fails, I find a bargin. I also go to community yard sales as their are lots and lots of different items. For the last four years I have bought people I work with (74 women) something they like and they never have asked me to take something back. So sI guess I am doing something right. It's great. Someday I want to go to the longest yard sale throught upper Ga.,Ky,. (03/08/2007)

By Sandie

Bag sale tip

A bag sale tip: The next time you are at a bag sale, take the clothing items, roll them up tight and place the items in your bag (think of when you are going on a trip and need all of the space you can in your suitcase). You will get more clothes for your money. (05/25/2007)

By Mary

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In This Article
Garage Sales
Shopping at Garage Sales
July 20, 2010
A table full of items for sale at a garage sale.
Finding Garage Sales
A woman taking a photo of a vase to post it on eBay.
eBay vs. Garage Sales
dirty garage floor
Removing Oil Stains from Garage Floor
garage sale
Preparing for a Garage Sale
Halloween Ideas!
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