It's getting to be that time of year in most of the county where ground thaws bring out the garage sale signs along side the dandelions that are popping up.

I love seeing yard sale and garage sale sign because they make me excited about going on a brief treasure hunt. Unlike going to a storage unit auction where you don't have much of an idea what you are buying, a garage sale allows you to look over the item well enough to get a good idea of it's worth.

There are two kinds of garage sales
The ones where people want to make as much money as possible and the ones where people want to just get rid of their stuff. The object is to find the ones where people want to get rid of stuff. Sometimes you will know buy the way items are priced other times and other times it will be a matter of bartering to find out.

A map, newspaper and organization
Pulling maps from an old phone book also works great. If you’re a beginner you might hit neighborhoods you are familiar with first. When you get to know an area better, you can just write the locations on a list from the farthest to the nearest to your home or vice versa.

Have kids help you out
Give kids a dollar or two to buy a few good deals for themselves or pick out gifts for upcoming birthdays or special events. Always bring food in a cooler to ease the fatigue.

Wear comfortable clothes
Always check the weather before you leave, wear comfortable walking shoes as many time you will find another unadvertised sale down the street. Also wear clothes you are comfortable getting dusty, greasy and wrinkled in.

When in doubt, carry it about
If you are unsure if you want to buy something, carrying it around with you as you look around. Setting it down may cost you is you want it later and if you decide not to get it, no harm done.

Barter, politely
Ask if they will come down on the price, most of the time they will, when asking for a lower price start at 1/3-1/2 off the price depending on what you are comfortable with. However, if I find a name brand sweater in perfect shape for a dollar, I don’t ask for less.

If the seller won't come down in price and it is higher than you can pay, leave your name and number and ask them to give you a call if it doesn't sell.

Pick up once, look over twice
Along the lines of carrying an item around with you, make certain you look it over very good. Check seems, zippers, buttons, latches, switches and even ask to plug it in. Bring home a broken item and you might as well toss the money you paid for it in the garbage.

Good deals early and late
Everyone know why it is fun to be the first at a sale but sometimes you get the best buys towards the end of the sale when sellers are tired and don’t want to have to drag everything back into the house.

Fish in a variety of areas
If you don’t have success in one part of town, try somewhere else the next time. Sometimes the best garage sale neighborhoods are the ones you don’t expect. If you tire of garage sales, set a day aside to go to a couple estate sales, these are handy for buying in bulk for books, silverware, clothes and more.

Now I'm excited about stopping at some garage sales and since I work weekends, I have the joy of going when other may not, during the week - weekday garage sales do exist, they are few and far between but it works for me.


  1. Clair of Frugal Living Freedom // Wednesday, April 15, 2009 11:28:00 AM  

    Garage sales are the best when it comes to picking up things at next to nothing prices. A friend of mine says that if you wait long enough, you'll find whatever you're looking for at a garage sale.

    I once picked up a Craftsman radial arm saw for $25 and a beautiful accordion for $25. The deals are fantastic as long as what they have to sell matches with what you'd like to buy.

    And, if you're into reselling, garage sales can be a wonderful source of items for resale.