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5 Ways to Get the Best Deals at Garage Sales

Posted: 03/29/12 10:00 AM (Modified: 03/29/12 10:00 AM)

Yesterday, we talked about how to make money by having a garage sale but now, I'd like to talk about how to save money at a garage sale.

Not only have I had quite a few garage sales in my life but I also shop garage sales as often as I can. I even have family members who make a living off of having garage sales (see picture). Yep, you could say we're addicted. I believe a frugal lifestyle is much more than just couponing, it also involves shopping smart for every single item you buy and garage sales are a great way to do that.

Of course, you always get the folks that say 'I never find anything at garage sales.' Well, that could be because you are looking in the wrong place. On occasion, you can also find garage sales that are way overpriced, so what do you do then? Check out the tips below:

{5 Ways to Score the Best Deals at Garage Sales}

1. Location: The location of the garage sale makes all the difference in the world. I use an app called Yard Sale Mapper, it maps out garage sales listed on Craigslist and for the most part, it keeps me from wandering aimlessly in search of a sale. Neighborhood garage sales are good...depending on the neighborhood.

If you want better items, you need to shop the better side of town. Yes, I know this sounds weird, but I like to shop nicer areas of town because typically those garage sales have items that I cannot normally afford at retail price. For example, I love Pottery Barn items but I do not shop there often so I like it when I see those items in a garage sale.

Neighborhood garage sales are also packed full of people. Many neighborhoods will have a 'preview' night the day before for neighborhood residents and family members. If you have a friend or family member in that neighborhood, ask if you can go with them on the preview night and get the deals before the big rush. If you do not know anyone in the neighborhood, just be sure you are there right when the sale opens or a little before.

You don't need to get there at 5am with a flashlight and demand to see what people are putting out...people don't like that...I don't like that...don't come to my garage sale at 5am. :)

2. Time: This brings us to timing. Going garage sale shopping at noon is never a good idea unless you want the leftovers. You'll find the later in the day you go, the cheaper the items will be and sometimes they're free. That's the plus, the downside is that you are going when every single thing is picked over. Start early, note the start times of the garage sales on Craigslist and be respectful of those times.

3. Price Wars: The oh-so-uncomfortable price negotiation. Quite honestly, early morning is not usually the time to negotiate on price because most garage sale savvy creators know more people will be shopping their sale after you go away.

The later in the day, the more eager people are to get their items out and that is a great time to negotiate. I found a rocking horse for my boys that would have retailed at $40 or so and I believe the woman priced it $25 but I offered $15 and she took it. Why? Well, it was later in the day and you could tell the ladies having the sale were wanting it to be over. I walked in and offered different amounts for nearly everything and they took it just fine.

I'm not a fan of the price negotiation, let's just say that upfront. However, it is the norm for garage sales so give it a try. The worst thing that could happen is that you both break out in a sweat and the person says no. Then, you retreat to your car and act as though it never happened...no one will ever know.

4. Day of the Week: This is important. There are typically three days that garage sales take place (typically but not always) these are Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Most people go for Saturdays because they're off work. This means, you might find a ton of great stuff on the Thursday or Fridays because they'll have 1/2 the crowd. At the same time, if a sale has been going on for 1 or 2 days and you decide to go to it on Saturday, you'll be dealing with leftovers.

I like to hit some sales on Friday morning when I see them but really, the majority of sales are on Saturday so that is when I shop the most. Check your Yard Sale Mapper or Craigslist to see if a weekday sale is right for you.

5. Make a List: Just like grocery shopping, make a list for what items you need during the garage sale season. Baby items? A swing set? A dog pen? Make your list and stick to it as best you can. Garage sales draw you in like a bug to a light, it is hard to resist .10 necklaces and $2 jeans but do you really need them? Sometimes you can end up spending money instead of saving money.

I had a friend of mine who bought her kids clothes and even Christmas gifts from garage sales, she wrote out everything she needed for a year then went shopping all season long to get the items. Sounds weird? Well, they also put down $250,000 in cash on a new house...not so weird now is it?


This is my great aunt's garage sale from about two weeks ago. Insane and highly addicting.

Mar 29, 2012 02:24 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

And you didn't let me know about it ahead of time??? 40 lashes with a wet noodle! Anna Marie

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