Articles and Insights

The Art of Garage Saling

Written by: Sara Coulter |

“One man’s trash is another man’s treasure” isn’t just a quotable quote.  It’s the potential for a great deal.

“Garage saling” is big business in this part of the country.  “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure” isn’t just a quotable quote.  It’s the potential for a great deal.

The competition is fierce.  So tie up your comfy shoes, grab your protein bar and water bottle, and let’s get started!

Wooden table

Getting ready

Don’t wear your Sunday best.  You’ll have a better chance getting a deal if you don’t look too “fancy”.

Map your route to make the best use of your time.

Hit the ATM for cash before you head out, and opt for smaller bills.

What to bring:  snacks, hand sanitizer, tape measure, shopping bag(s) (or consider a rolling tote to hold your loot.)

Lego people

When should I go?

It goes without saying that the first day of the sale is the best day, because there is a larger selection to choose from.  Time of day largely depends on your goal.

Early am – Best time for big-ticket items or if you’re looking for something specific.  Antique hunters and resellers usually show up first thing in the morning.

Late pm – This is the best time for great deals.  You’ll have to sort through what is left, but the seller is probably more willing to make a deal, and he/she is thinking about the hassle of having to get rid of things that don’t sell.

Flower vases

You’ve arrived

Check things out from your car first.  If you see lots of people with nothing in their hands, that could be a bad sign.  Also, if you see kids’ stuff (and you’re not in the market for it), it might mean that the seller is a young person just getting rid of their junk.  You might want to keep on moving.

Once you’re there, do a quick walk-through to see if there’s anything specific you might want.

Claim it!  If you see something you want, pick it up and carry it around with you.  Sure as shooting, if you don’t, it won’t be there when you make up your mind.  If you can’t carry it all, ask the seller if you can start a pile somewhere.

If you’re looking for something specific, ask.

Negotiate (nicely), and don’t be afraid to walk away if the seller won’t budge.  And if you love it – BUY IT!

red purse

No deal!

According to The Reader’s Digest, steer away from the following items:

Bike helmets – Helmets are constructed to protect you from one accident.  When you buy a used helmet, you don’t know its history.  Better to protect the old bean by buying new.  The same goes for child car seats.  Approx. one in ten is damaged.

Mattresses, bedding and stuffed animals– Unless you’re ok with other peoples’ bugs, molds, mites and bodily fluids – YUCK!

Baby bottles – Not for the reason you’d think, but because of BPA in plastic, which can be toxic to your little one.   Buy new to be safe.

Upholstered furniture – Unless you’re going to have the piece reupholstered, you could run into the same critter problem as mattresses and bedding.

Laptops, TVs and other electronic devices – kicked, dropped, spilled on – You just don’t know.

Shoes – used shoes have been molded to the original owner’s feet and could hurt yours if they don’t fit properly.


women holding a stack of old books


I’ll take it! recommends the following items as potential great deals:

All-wood furniture – Older furniture was generally made well, and can be painted or re-stained if necessary.  (If you purchase a larger item, such as a chest of drawers, that is too big to transport in your car, pay for it first and take a piece with you, such as a drawer.)

Books – Inexpensive.  If you’re buying to resell, make sure there are no water-stains, which will affect the value of the book.

Designer clothing – Dress in layers to try them on, if there is no dressing room.  Look for stains and areas of wear, and make sure that buttons are intact and zippers work.  Avoid smoke odors, which cannot be removed.

Kid stuff – Kids outgrow clothing in 5 minutes, so garage sales are perfect for replenishing wardrobes.  Also look for toys, puzzles, and games, but make sure to inspect for missing pieces.  (Did you know that you can run children’s plastic toys through the dishwasher to disinfect them?!)

Home Décor – Whether you’re looking to reuse/repurpose, or simply use as crafting supplies, anything is up for grabs at a good price.

Good luck, and let us know in the comments below if you find your treasure!


Topics: Wealth, Entertainment, Personal

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