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Home > Tips and Hints > How to find bargains at a Garage Sale

How to find bargains at a Garage Sale
By Gerald the Garage Sale Gnome
Tuesday, 16 September 2008
Viewed : 14633 time(s)
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About the Author

Gerald the Garage Sale Gnome

Gerald the garden gnome, an original member of the egaragesales team, co-directs the business daily and is a garage sale enthusiast at heart. Gerald served as weekend support and part time tea and scone maker when egaragesales launched in 2004, before joining the administrative team two years later. He became the team's chief postal correspondent, sending off garage sale sign orders as well as making frequent appearances on the website. If you have a question for Gerald dont hesitate in sending him an email. He likes the attention.

Gerald the Garage Sale Gnome has written 10 article(s) for egaragesales.

How to find a Sale
Look online at sites such as but also in the newspaper’s classifieds section the day of the sale or the day before. Usually the sales take place Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Some sales take place only on one day. Check the starting times and avoid getting there early (the sellers hate early-birds). 

What to expect and different types of sales (for first-time shoppers)
A garage sale is usually held at someone's house (in the garage or out on the lawn). The person will have tables set up covered with all kinds of various items. Sometimes there will be a laundry line or clothes rack filled with clothes and linens. They might be selling old furniture and antiques. The seller is usually willing to part with their items for a little less than the sales tag, but are not desperate to sell their items.

An estate or moving sale, however, usually involves a desperate seller. This person is trying to unload as much stuff and get as much money as they can before hauling everything to charity. Arrive at these sales as late as you can since the prices will be rock-bottom or come early to get the best stuff. 

How to get a bargain
Read the ad carefully. If there is something you want listed in the ad, arrive early to get it. Usually these items are in the ad to entice bargain-hunters to come shopping. Don’t expect to get a rock-bottom price on anything advertised. However, the prices on these advertised items may be discounted at the end of the day if they are not yet sold.

Have a game plan. Plan which sales you definitely want to stop at and what exactly you are looking for. Perhaps you need new furniture or a birthday present for a friend. Make a list of any special sizes or needs. Take a ruler with you. Also take a canvas tote with you to carry your new-found goodies. Bring cash if you can. Most sellers will only accept cash.

If you find something you need but don't like the color or fabric, talk the seller into a lower price just for that reason. Having an item repainted, repaired or re-covered can be far less expensive than buying a new piece. Check every item you want before buying, since you can't return it once you buy it. Do the drawers stick? Does the table wobble? Is it rusted? Does it leak? Does it work? Some items are beyond repair and some just aren't worth the effort of fixing. Know your limitations.

Of course, most buyers come back to a good sale at the very end of the sale (like Sunday afternoon) hoping for rock-bottom prices. However, they usually find all the good stuff gone. If you have your eye on something, ask the seller if they can lower the price. Sometimes a seller will give you a good deal if you buy more than one item. If you are lucky, the seller will give you a "buy one, get one free" deal.

If you think an item is overpriced and the seller refuses to back down on the price, check back later. A seller will always be more flexible Sunday afternoon just before the sale ends. 

What NOT to buy
Avoid buying used pots and pans that look rusted or unusable (no matter how cheap they are). Avoid certain baby items like cribs, car seats (these might have been recalled), things that go in a baby's mouth like bottles, bedding, etc. And that's it - adhere to these simple guidelines and your sure to find some super bargains at your next garage sale. Good luck and go for it!


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