How would you like to find a huge butcher block desk for only $10? Or a wood and glass china cabinet for $100? How about nearly new baby clothes for $1 each? How about hardcover books for 50 cents apiece? These are all things that I personally have found at garage sales. If any of this sounds like a bargain to you, you might not have to look any further than your neighbor’s yard. Garage sales have long been a way to get rid of unwanted things. For a bargain hunter, they’re paradise. Sure, it can be hit or miss, but that’s part of the thrill of the hunt. You can drive up to a house, crane your neck out the window to see what they have, and choose to stop and browse or drive on by. So here are some tips for getting the most out of garage sales:
Finding them- the “season” for garage sales is typically summertime. Look in the classified section of the paper, check www.craigslist.com or watch for signs as you’re driving around town. You’ll have the best luck if you can find neighborhoods or subdivisions where many houses are having sales.
Have a plan- driving around aimlessly doesn’t count as a plan, although I have done it! Use the newspapers or Internet to choose a few promising sales and visit those.
Start early- die-hard garage sale fans have been known to arrive at a house as early as 6am. While this may sound unreal for a Saturday morning, many of the best deals are snatched up before noon.
Be prepared- things to bring include cash, comfortable shoes, water, sunglasses, and a shopping list.
Park and walk- if you find a neighborhood or subdivision with are lots of sales, break out those tennis shoes. Park your car somewhere and walk from sale to sale. Traffic can get tight, but this lets you move around easily. For a really good workout bring a bicycle or roller blades.
Carry cash- ’nuff said. Small bills are good. Credit cards are a no-no, and many people are hesitant to take a check. If you find a large item that you want, but don’t have the cash the seller will often hold it for you.
Bargain- some people do this, and some don’t. Often if people are trying to get rid of something they will sell it for less than the “sticker price”.
Have a goal- this will keep you from being overwhelmed. If you know you’re hunting for furniture, you won’t have to stop at all of the sales with tables full of baby clothes.
Bring a friend- just like the mall, garage sales are better with company.
Don’t expect too much- like antiques hunting or anything else, you won’t find treasures every time.
Above all, go and have fun. Expect to find some strange things, meet some nice people, and score a few bargains. Happy hunting!