My Top 8 Garage Sale Tips

My favorite time of year is upon us and I couldn’t be more excited: garage sale season! Here are 8 of my favorite garage sale tips that are simple, but you might not have been doing. They’ll help you find the best sales and selection, get the best prices, and even some tips on going with kids.

I’ll also share some of my favorite finds from a sale from last year!

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1.) Make a list of what you are looking for.
It helps to be able to remember, you’ll know what type of houses to seek out, and you can share it with friends or family. Ask them to call you if they spot certain items for a good price, and they can send phone pictures.
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2.) When making your list, look to the future.
Think birthday presents and Christmas presents for your kids, the next few sizes up, winter clothes, future kids. While you don’t want a ton of clutter accumulating, if you see a hard to find baby item for a steal and it is easy to store, get it! Make bins for your kids in the next sizes up. Know a family member who would rather receive a unique thrifted item rather than a store bought gift? Add them to your list.
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3.) Go early or don’t bother.
I try to get to the neighborhood wide at least an hour before it starts, a house with something particular I’m looking for about a half hour before. I don’t knock on doors (don’t be that weirdo), but some sales may start early. I still “sailing” well into the afternoon and sure I still score. But if you are looking for big ticket items or steals, you will miss them if you stroll up at 10:30.

4.) Looking to bargain big time? Ignore the last rule.
People are hesitant to give huge discounts to their first customer. If low prices are more appealing than finding something particular, go later or on the second or even third day of a sale. Like a house you hit earlier? Go back for lower prices the next day. They’ll practically be giving you their stuff, I know I am ready to. ;)

5.) Seek out neighborhoods and houses that fit what you are looking for.
I have kids, so I stick to middle to high-income neighborhoods that have young kids and nice clothes and toys. Super wealthy neighborhoods are good for designer clothes for you or your spouse, collectibles, or expensive items, but their kids are mostly grown. Old neighborhoods will have an eclectic selection from antique treasures hiding in the garage to estate sales clearing out, to new families. Scout out your favorite neighborhoods and drive near them to find sales.

6.) Want to get a lot? Neighborhood wides are your friend.
This goes hand in hand with the last tip. I have my favorite subdivisions set in my Craigslist app alerts so it will let me know when they are getting ready to hold theirs. A lot of you ask how I score so big, well, if I am going I am going to GO! Last weekend I probably hit 30-50 houses. Not all of them were good. But when you hit that many, you are bound to find something.

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7.) Be prepared.
For kids: books, small toys, a cooler of healthy snacks and simple sandwiches, a jug of water to refill sippy cups, a stroller, baby carrier, lollipops or something to bribe them if things get really cranky. Maybe bring a potty chair or cup.
For you: water, coffee, healthy snacks, tea, music, sunglasses, GPS, map, or phone with car charger.
Fast food will make you cranky, try to avoid having to stop.
Dress everyone in layers. Look like a well put together customer. Don’t be a sloppy, junky mess or in designer clothes asking half price on their stuff.

8.) Be a good person.
For me, this comes natural. I’m Italian and can talk to anyone. ;) But be nice, don’t trash their stuff, don’t be rude. Ask how they are, say hi, strike up a conversation. When you are having a sale, would you be more likely to give a discount to a nice mom with cute kids who genuinely cares about you, a stuck up jerk, or a grumpy frump who is a mess?
Be a good person, the type you would like to meet and chat with.

Want to see more of my finds?

I got a lot of kids clothes, things I’ve been looking for, but not a ton of decor. That will be next weekend ;)
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And now my favorite score that I DIDN’T buy but thought was the coolest couch ever. My family would think I was nuts if I got it. Mint condition, $50, swoon:
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Do you garage sale? Which of my finds would you have also gotten? Which were your favorite?

Ann Marie Heasley
Hi there, I'm Ann Marie! I get a kick out of making stuff, love pops of color, and am a garage sale junkie. My style is simple, comfy vintage. (I would say clean, but my house is rarely clean.) I think your home should be a place where you feel happy. Join me as I share glimpses of our everyday life, creative projects, and tips to make your life easier.
Ann Marie Heasley
Ann Marie Heasley
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Comments

  1. says

    Love the quilt! It’s so gorgeous! And you’ve got a cannister up there that I would snag in a heartbeat!

    I am itching to get to garage sales: they don’t really start around here until the weather warms up a bit. June will be my month!

    My favourite garage sale score was from an estate sale of a woman who had a *ahem* collection problem. She had a room of Christmas decorations. A ROOM! For about $10, I left with a garbage bag full of vintage christmas ornaments, lights, and twinkly things. It was amazing!

  2. Rebekkah Smith says

    My in-laws live in a nice, country club neighborhood that has a semi-annual garage sale with usually 50-75 houses. Lots of families with kids! I go every time, and I have for the past 6 years! I always get amazing deals – from all my baby furniture for $350 (retail at $2000+), books and games for the kids, outside toys, jungle gyms, clothes, dishes, etc. You name it, I’ve bought it there. Probably 1/2 the stuff in my house has come from there.

    The best find I’ve gotten there? Probably a Rainbow playset ($2000) for $25. A few weeks ago, I got a solid wood, year old loft bed for my 4 year old for $35. Once, my friend got a $1500 area rug for $75 and a pottery barn kids’ chair (normally $100, it was in perfect, unused condition) for $5.

  3. Alexa says

    nice post! The quilt is great and the kids clothes looks good too! Do you save back your clothes for the next child? And did you find out if you’re having a boy or girl? : )

  4. Amy Stephens says

    I love that quilt and the dresser you found up there! Awesome finds! :) I use a website to find all of my garage sales that works WONDERS – its: http://www.yardsalesearch.com/?rf=b I thought some of the bargain finding lovers reading your blog would benefit from their free advertising and such, cause I know I sure do! :)

  5. says

    This is AWESOME! I LOVE garage saling, (and I love how you are flying your Bargain Hunter flag so proudly ;) )

    You’ve got some fantastic tips here. Now I’m dying to hit the yard sales… and they don’t start until around Friday. Aaahhh!!!

  6. says

    I completely agree that people should make a list of things that they are looking for as it will make easy for them to buy stuff from a yard sale in a good price. You have bought some great stuffs.

  7. Kristen says

    I am so jealous of your garage sale finds! It doesn’t warm up here until at least June. We live in a small college community so there isn’t much to find. There are scads of kids but everyone needs the bigger sizes so I only ever see baby clothes when I need 6-7 year old boy stuff!

  8. says

    GREAT scores!! My husband loves yard saleing. He has gotten me into it. Two weekends ago we went and I got one of those storage tubs full of dress-up clothes for my 2 year old. I looked at them when I got home and realized I ended up with 15 total outfits, plus hats and tutus. 5 were Disney dresses. $10 for all of that! Yay yard sales! :)

  9. says

    Fun to see your tips. I love to go searching for treasures at Garage Sales and it’s that time of year again. I find lots of things to sell in my antique booth and I like to repaint and re-purpose.

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