Thursday, March 8, 2012

20 Tips for Garage Sale Shopping

With spring right around the corner, I'm getting anxious to be able to start going to garage sales.
I have held garage sales of my own, but they are a LOT of work, and I've never made enough money to make it worth my time and effort that goes into putting one together. 
Besides, it's much more fun to go shopping for treasures than trying to sell my own junk..ha!

Here are some tips to keep in mind when going to garage sales.

1. Before you start, organize a game plan. Look in your local newspaper for the listings. I circle the ones I want to go to....then plan a route to take you so aren't backtracking all over town. If you want, you can print out a map of your town, and number the sales you want to hit.

2. Besides the newspaper, look at church and grocery store bulletin boards for ads. Also, a lot of times people will just put up signs, so watch for those also. 

3. If you see an ad for a sale in the future, or hear about one through word of mouth, mark it on a calendar so you don't forget.

4. Go with friends, and have each person scout out different things. For instance if you are looking for baby items, linens and Christmas decorations....when you get to the sale, each of you can look for a different item. 

5. If you notice someone is selling something you are particularly interested in...ask them if they have more they haven't put out. For example...I used to collect vintage Pyrex dishes. At one sale they had about 5 pieces....I asked if they had more, and they promptly went in the house and brought out about 10 more pieces. Sometimes people don't have room to put out everything, or simply didn't have time to get everything out. Even if you don't see something you are looking for, ask. They just might have it in the house and didn't put it out because they didn't think anyone would be interested in buying it.

6. Some things to bring with you: a tape measure, plastic bags, batteries to test things, sunblock, cooler of beverages, small bills...$1's and 5's, comfortable shoes, newspaper to wrap breakables, hand sanitizer, a notepad and pen.

7. For the notepad and pen...I have left my name and number with people to call me when their sale was over, regarding a particular item they had, and offered to buy what they had left. I did this with baby clothes, and they ended up selling me the entire lot they had left at a MUCH cheaper price than it would have been if I had bought each item separately.

8. If you see something you are even a little interested in, pick it up and carry it around with you while you browse other items. If you decide not to get it, you can always put it back....but if you don't grab it, chances are someone else already has and you will miss out.

9. I always look at the clothing last, and browse other items first. Clothing is very hard to sell at rummage sales, and usually goes for very look at all the other goodies first.

10. Don't be afraid to make someone an offer on something. If you are looking for books, and see a box for 25 cents each...quickly count the books, take a few dollars off and offer them less. Most times people will accept an offer if they can get rid of more stuff.

11. Take advantage of any "$1 a bag" deals for clothing. It might be a hideous dress, but be the perfect fabric for a craft project. Look at a rack of clothing as if it were the fabric department. That awful looking blouse might make a darling picture frame, or lampshade, or a cute throw pillow. Another great tip: if you roll clothes up instead of folding them or just stuffing them in, you can fit more in a bag.

12. Look for signs posted for items that may be too large for the seller to bring out...a washer, dryer, bed frame, furniture. Ask to see these items.

13. Sometimes there will be a "free" box...items that you can have for free. Always look thru it, you never know what you might find. And if you take something out of the free box, don't feel obligated to buy something out of guilt.

14. If your leisurely shopping, take your kids. But if you are on a serious power buying mission, leave them at home or with a sitter. If you rummage with a few other friends, consider taking turns staying home and babysitting. The one watching the kids can always send a 'wish list' with the shoppers of items to look for for them.

15. Plan to go EARLY. Start out even an hour early. Most people will let you browse even if it's before the opening time.

16. Keep cardboard boxes or plastic totes in your trunk to hold your purchases. If you go with a friend, designate a tote for each so when you get done shopping you aren't digging through bags to see who's stuff is who's.

17. Churches sales and community building sales generally are better than single family sales because instead of digging though just one person's have more variety since many different people will be selling their items.

18. If you are looking for higher quality items, look near the seller's table where they are taking money. People will generally put their more valuable items where they can keep an eye on them and discourage shoplifting.

19. Look inside boxes and bags. Many times what's pictured on the box is not what it contains....the seller just used the box to hold items. Really good stuff can be found in really goofy boxes. And really junky stuff can be found in nice boxes. Also look under tables...if sellers run out of table space they may just put things in boxes for people to look through.

20. Before actually stopping at a sale, do a drive by. Drive by slowly, and try to see what type of things they are selling. If you aren't looking for clothing, for example, and you drive by a sale where you see racks and racks of clothing and just a small table or two of other might be best to skip that one and move on to the next. And if you don't care if you look like an idiot or a diehard garage addict....bring binoculars with you, so it's easier to see things from the road..haha!~

So there we have it. I know a lot of this is common knowledge for the seasoned garage sale goer, but hopefully some of these tips will be useful when it's finally time to get out there and do some rummaging!! :)

If you have any more tips or ideas...please feel free to leave them in the comments area. Have a wonderful day!

This post was featured by:
Featured At Serenity Now

Linking to these parties:

Pin It


  1. These are some great tips! Thanks so much for sharing at Whimsy Wednesday at The NY Melrose Family. I look forward to seeing what you come up with this week.

  2. Great tips! I am a HUGE garage sale shopper and have been for most of my life. All tips I agree with. I also always tell people who ask the best way to find things is to actually go to garage sales. So many people are amazed with the deals I find, but it really does take time and commitment to go. Also, people in our area rarely advertise their garage sales in the newspaper anymore. I usually find out about sales on craigslist but better yet, I have a loop that I drive every Friday and Saturday. The ones that aren't advertised usually have the best finds!

  3. My daughter & I start at @6:30 am each Saturday. We have a route that takes us in a circle so we don't have to backtrack. We look for 'junk' that are treasures to us.

  4. Great tips!
    I disagree a little about going early, though. I used to hold garage sales several times a year and found it very frustrating for people to show up an hour early when I was trying to set up (and before I had my signs out). They always asked questions and dug through boxes I was trying to unload, or tried to go in my garage and take stuff I wasn't selling, and then no matter how early I had started I could never get set up before the early morning hordes came.
    But I guess if the point is to sell the stuff it didn't really matter, just made it more stressful at the moment.

  5. What a wonderful list! Great tips!!! Thanks for sharing. I want this to become something my girls and I do together routinely....treasure hunting! ;)

  6. Great ideas for garage sales! I live in a very small house, so my main rule for garage/yard sales is to have a purpose and a place for each item I buy, so that my house won't look like a garage sale!
    Another tip: When my children were younger, I would give each child one or two dollars that they could spend on whatever they wanted. It kept them occupied while I shopped, and kept them from constantly asking me to buy them things. One or two dollars can go a long way for toys at a yard sale. It also taught them how to look for bargains and make the most of their money!

  7. I am so interested on garage shopping. Let me know if you have another garage sale and thanks for the tips.



Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment! I love hearing from you!