About this project
For me, crafting goes hand to hand with Garage Sale shopping. I wouldn't have been able to afford the supplies for most of my crafting projects if it weren't for the great bargains that I could find at Garage Sales. What started out as a means to gather cheap knitting, sewing, crafting and art supplies turned into a fun hobby that I look foreward to almost every free weekend.
This is a guide of tips and tricks for both Veteren and Beginning Garage Sale shoppers. I am parting my knowledge that I have gained over the years of 'Garage Sale Shopping Etiquette' and general habits of sellers. As always, use common sense to have a safe and fun experience! Garage Sales are a great way to find crafting supplies and experiment your crafting skills on a relatively low budget!
Images are from royalty-free, free clip art, and free stock image sites.
You Will Need
Typical Garage Sale Terms:
Garage Sale: Usually held in the garage or around the garage area of a property.
Yard Sale: Usually held around the ground property near a home or warehouse.
Flea Market: A Bazaar-like atmosphere of a community, club or commercially run sale of used goods.
Estate Sales: Typically held within and/or around a home, sometimes run by a commercial establishment. Some of the best deals and best range of items can be found here. Usually Estate Sales are held when a family is moving or when the former owner of the property becomes desceased and the family is selling unwanted items as a means to clean out the house.
WHERE TO START?
The best place to find Garage Sale Ads used to be in the classified section in the newspaper, but with the popularity of free listings on Craigslist.com newspaper ads are becoming a thing of the past. Look in the newspaper anyways, check community flyers and other online resources for big and small garage sale events, especially if you are looking for specific items.
If you feel adventerous, you can always head out and search for the nearest well-traveled intersection for any Garage Sale signs to follow, or go on impulse to one as you drive by...however before following a garage sale sign, inspect the sign for damage of the elements and the date, making sure that it is a newer sign before you persue it.
WHAT DAY TO START?
Typically the busiest Garage Sale days are Friday and Saturday, with Sunday usually being the slowest. Sometimes sales are held on Thursday and Monday, but not very often. Estate Sales could be held during normal business hours.
Keep in mind that Mid-Spring to Summer is the busiest Garage Sale season, even more so when the weather is nice. Estate Sales and Moving Sales spring up anytime of the year, and are usually held indoors or in the shelter of the garage.
Set a time and route to where you would like to go. Most Garage Sales & Estate Sales post a start & end time of the sale. Many professional garage sale shoppers (usually antique dealers and collecters) tend to show up to an hour early to some sales. If the Seller post a 'no early birds' statement in their ad, then respect their wishes and show up around the start time rather than obnoxiously early.
Garage Sales rarely go beyond 5:00pm, especially if the seller starts it around 8-10am or later, making it a full 8 hour day of sitting around, setting up, and putting away for the seller.
HAVE CASH ON YOU
Most Sellers are weary of taking checks, and Garage Sales in general rarely take credit/debit cards, with the exception being the odd Commercially run Estate Sales or Flea Markets. Always have cash on you, generally in small bills and a goodly amount in change. GARAGE SALES ARE NOT BANKS, do not expect Sellers to have change for $50 or $100 when you want to purchase a single $5 item. I got this behavior quite a bit when I run Garage Sales, and I find it very rude.
I usually take only a limit of $$ so I won't overspend. If you don't have enough cash on you, and you find something that you can't live without, ask the seller to hold the item for you in the back. Sometimes they take down payments with what cash they have before you leave to get more cash. IT IS POLITE TO GIVE THE SELLER A TIMEFRAME OF WHEN YOU WILL BE BACK AND OR PHONE # TO REACH YOU, this includes items that you fully purchased but need to get a different vehicle to transport it. If you wait too long the Seller might sell the item to the next interested customer and return your money when you come back to claim it.
OLD vs NEW SUBERBS
(Note: This guide is based on my own general experiece garage sale shopping in these two types of suberbs, and of course varies from house to house.)
I've found over the years that older suberbs tend to have more viariety of items and househould goods, particularly if the residents have lived in the same house for several years. Depending on the age of the suberb area (say if it was build during the 70's) the chance of finding vintage goods dating back to that era tends to go up.
NEW/RECENTLY BUILT RESIDENTS
Newer housing developments, where generally the families are new, and usually with babies and children (you can spot these by driving by and seeing tons of baby clothes and toys on display, which is a great way to get these generally gently-used or new items at a good price, babies are expensive!) Oftentimes the people living in those newer areas have already got rid of their unwanted items before moving into the recently built neighborhood, and would be more limited on the variety of items.
As a general rule, do not bring pets to garage sales. Not all Sellers are animal lovers, and many might be allergic. And I highly doubt that you would earn extra brownie points if your dog makes a 'brownie' of their own on the Seller's lawn. o_O; Either leave animals in the car with the window cracked or at home.
Kids are by nature very curious and adventerous little beings, especially if you happen to attend a garage sale with many toys and/or breakable things. You might get more than you bargain for if you have to pay for an expensive broken item. With a babysitter, it will be far easier to concentrate on the Garage Sale without having to watch the kiddies as well.
1. When you park at a Garage Sale be sure to follow traffic laws and park legally away from emergency areas and out from the middle of the road (you'd be surprised at how many people I see do this) not only are these habits unsafe, they can also lead to traffic fines and getting your car towed. More than once have I seen police cars prowling busy garage sale communities. Suddenly that $5 vase dosen't seem worth the $200 ticket...
2. Don't block neighbor's driveways, even if no one appears to be home, nor park directly in front or up the driveway of the Garage Sale itself. Not only is it rude, but you may incur the wrath of the Seller and be turned away from the Sale. Usually the exception to this rule is if you make a big purchase on furniture, then the Seller may let you park closer to load the item into your vehicle (and maybe help you as well!)
3. If no parking seems immedietly avaliable, you can always park further down the street and burn a few extra calories by walking. Or you can return later...or keep driving on to a different sale.
IT NEVER HURTS TO BE POLITE OR TO TURN AWAY FROM A RUDE SELLER
You are more likely to get better deals if you walk up to a Garage Sale with a smile on your face and greet the Seller politely or even engage in light conversation. Treat the Seller as you want to be treated yourself, and don't feel pressured to stay if they are rude to you. After all, they are trying to sell their stuff to you, and if they are not good enough salesmen to make you feel welcome then they don't deserve you as their customer.
Haggling is an artform in itself, and is an old trade still used all over the world. Haggling is an art that is not commonly practiced within the US outside of Garage Sale events or car lots, and takes lots of practice and patience to find the right balance and skill needed to read the person and gauge their reaction to your offer.
DON'T be aggressive, DON'T be attached, and DON'T be afraid to walk away. After all, there are plenty of garage sales out there, and unless it is a particular item that you rarely find and can't live without as opposed to a rather common item, wait to get that item another day.
DO be resonable, DO set yourself a limit, DO use your good judgement. Haggle only if you think the item is worth less than what it is priced, or feel that you can get a reasonable good deal. And remember, be aware that some Sellers absolutely don't like to haggle! On the other hand, other Sellers welcome it!
THE TWO TYPES OF GARAGE SALES
I've found over the years that there are two types of Garage Sales: Ones that try to make a profit, and those that are there to get rid of stuff or to make room for new stuff.
1. The Garage Sales that try to make a profit are usually the ones with the most inflated prices, sometimes on the most crappy and ridiculous stuff (I once came across an old lady who wanted to sell a pickle jar full of dried soap slivers...some with hair stuck in for $10! It was sooo gross!) On top of that, the lady was incredibly stingy and wouldn't budge on any of her prices. Needless to say, I left that Garage Sale pretty quickly to find a different one...and noticed that she wasn't selling *anything* days later when I later drove by.
2. Garage Sales that aim to make room or get rid of stuff generally have the best deals, and are more open to haggling and giving you a better deal if you purchase great quantities of items (like vinyls, cloths, etc.) Usually the attitude I get from these Sellers is that the more they get rid of, the less they need to drive to the Thrift Store or the dump.
DRESS FOR THE PART!
Going out for a fun day of Garage Sale shopping is a great excuse to look your best, especially while you rummage through other people's unwanted stuff in order to find your treasures! Remember to dress practically and according to to weather, comfortable shoes are a must especially if you are going to do a lot of walking.
!!!!!GARAGE SALE SAFTY!!!!!
Most Garage Sales are a completly harmless, but as always when venturing out into the world !USE COMMON SENSE!! More often than not Garage Sales take place in a privately owned property, and if you are spending a day day garage sale hopping you are constantly going from sale-to-sale with no specific place in mind, making it difficult for people to find you if something goes wrong.
IT IS ALWAYS BETTER TO GO WITH A PARTNER to a garage sale, and if you arrive to a sale alone in a secluded area and/or have a funny feeling about the place, DON'T HESITATE TO TURN AROUND AND LEAVE. I have done this several times, even after driving a ways to get to the destination. You can always go to a different sale.
!!!TRUST YOUR INSTICTS!!!
Garage Sale shopping is a fun hobby, and a great way to get to know your community and explore new areas. Who knows what great deals and treasures are out there? I've bought all my knitting and sewing equipment, including yards of fabric and skiens of yarn at Garage Sales for only pennies compared to retail store prices (sometimes brand new!) as well as art and crafting supplies, and many other practical things at a fraction of their retail price.
Remember to inspect the goods before you commit to buy (as items are often sold 'as is' with no returns). And keep in mind that if you are the crafty type person the possibilites are endless if you want to experiment or spiff up an item to your liking. Have fun fellow crafters, and Happy Hunting!