You know, some of the best memories I have of my teenage years include garage saling with my girly friends. We’d get up early on a Saturday morning, get Chick-fil-a or Starbucks, pile into two cars and set off to “make the rounds.” My friend’s mom is a pretty dedicated garage saler, and she always knew where the good sales were happening. Sometimes a nearby neighborhood would be hosting what is called a “community sale,” where many households in a neighborhood would simultaneously host garage sales. So, we girls would skip from sale to sale, neighborhood to neighborhood, watching out for signs and open garages.
Maybe your neighbors aren’t the garage saling sort, or maybe you aren’t sure how to find garage sales in your area. In my last post, I mentioned looking on Craigslist to find listings of sales in your area. If you live on the outskirts of a well-populated area, consider driving 30 or even 45 minutes or so to a community sale in the heart of town. You just might find some amazing treasures!
Here are some pointers to maximize your garage saling experience:
You have to take the time to develop an “eye” for garage sale treasures.
Sometimes people express thoughts like this to me: “Sarah, whenever I go to Goodwill or go garage saling, I don’t find cool stuff like you do! I need to go with you sometime.” The reason I find cool stuff is because I know how to look for it. You can’t go to one or two garage sales, refrain from digging in the dirty box because it’s full of nasty-other-people’s-clothes, glance over the broken china and then turn up your nose at the experience and vow never to go again. You have to be willing to get up to your elbows in other people’s junk. If something is lightly stained, consider that it might be worth risking the $.50 to try and wash the stains out with some Shout. If the shoes are badly scuffed leather Gucci boots, consider paying the $3.00 and giving them a good polishing. If the lampshade is pretty but the lamp is broken, ask for it cheaper, take it home and pop the lampshade onto another lamp that needs dressing up. Check labels for name brands. See a bunch of pretty old books that have boring titles? Buy them for the $.50 each, dust them off and stack them on a bookshelf at home to add antique ambiance.
Be prepared to buy stuff that you weren’t looking for.
The best and worst thing about garage sales is that you never know what you will find. You could go garage saling looking specifically for a red purse and end up coming home purse-less but with an armful of winter scarves and … uh … blank art canvases. Now, be careful not to buy unnecessary junk. If you’ll use it more than once, then it’s not junk.
Learn how to evaluate a garage sale from your moving car.
Or, in other words, learn how to drive-through garage sale! Slowly drive past a garage sale and scope it out. Are there tons of baby toys sitting out? Well, if you are looking for 17-year-old girls shoes, that garage sale should probably be passed.
Don’t hesitate to haggle. The worst they could say is “no”.
(Well, they could yell at you and throw their homemade lemonade in your face.) Yeah, they might look at you a little funny when you ask if they can go down to $.50 from $1.00, but in the garage saling culture, you need to learn how to be brave, bold, daring! And remember, the worst they can say is “no.”
Look for FREE!
Sometimes, as it gets later in the afternoon, people will start listing their stuff as “free.” Keep an eye out for this. People get desperate to get rid of their stuff as the hours tick by (especially where I live in sweltering Florida), and it gets easier to haggle later in the morning/early afternoon.
I hope these tips inspire you to make your own forays into the garage saling world! It’s fun. Super fun. I’ve found a lot of treasures, had great times with friends, and have saved a boatload of money in the process. Here’s a picture of some of my garage sale finds: two Banana Republic dresses, two Banana Republic sweaters and an adorable silver zebra print tote. Total spent: $13.