I don’t know about your neck of the woods but neighborhood-wide garage sales are starting to pop up all over the place here. And I have to be honest – there are few things in life I love as much as a good day of seeking out treasures at garage sales! As I mentioned in this post about DIY furniture makeovers, most of the furniture I own has been picked up at garage sales, flea markets, vintage shops or thrifted in some other manner. Turns out, I also have an affinity for picking up cool vintage gadgets and gizmos whenever I can, too. It’s true. I really do avoid paying retail at all costs. (And besides, seeking out something unique with history behind it is often way more fun anyway!) So without further ado, if you’re planning to hit up the local garage sale circuit this weekend, here are my tips for being a garage sale champ!
Find the hot spots
Quite often these days a lot of neighborhood sales or multi-family sales are promoted in advance in the local paper and on Craigslist. Generally they include information about the big ticket items available and the hours the sale will be open. Put together a list of a few sales or areas you’d like to target to get started if you’re on the hunt for something specific. Which is not to say it’s not fun to just drive around looking for what’s good!
This one probably goes without saying but a lot of the good stuff sells early. That doesn’t mean you have to be up at the crack of dawn (kudos to you if that’s your thing), but you definitely want to get mobilized in the morning. By mid-day a lot of sales will be picked over and the goodies will be long gone.
Wear comfy shoes
If you’re in it for the long haul, comfy shoes are a must because you’ll be on your feet and/or walking a good chunk of the day. The same is true if you’re hitting up a local flea market. Bonus points for making sure to pack a big to-go cup of your favorite coffee. A little extra motivation never hurt anybody.
Pick and choose
There’s no need to hit every sale on a block. You can usually tell from street level if a sale has the potential to offer what you want. If you’re looking for clothes, furniture or vintage glassware, a quick scan from afar will usually tell you if you’re in the right place. A sale with a lot of kids clothes, for instance, well often have a lot of kids toys and books, too, so if that happens to be what you’re hunting for, mosey on up!
Again, this one goes a bit without saying, but garage sales are almost exclusively cash-only transactions. Bringing cash in a variety of denominations will make shopping easier, keeping in mind that a lot of people won’t have a ton of cash on hand to make change, especially early in the day.
Be prepared to haggle
Most pricing at garage sales are what I like to call “suggestions.” There’s almost always room to negotiate on prices, especially on big ticket items. If a sale has a lot of things you love you can likely bundle your purchases for an even steeper discount. When in doubt, it never hurts to make an offer! Worst thing that happens is they say no!
Prepare for the weather
Most sales take place rain or shine. If it’s a rainy day you’ll likely face less foot traffic on the hunt for the deals, but you’ll want to be prepared with rain boots and an umbrella. Same is true if it’s sunny and hot! Pack water and sunscreen and dress in layers so you can adjust your clothing as necessary.
Pack your own bag
A canvas tote or reusable shopping bag is your friend when hitting the sales. Some sales will have bags, but many do not and bringing your own bag will allow you to cart things around without having to return to the car every time you purchase something.
Be prepared to transport large purchases
If you’re on the hunt for furniture or other large items, you’ll want to have a plan in action for trucking off with your newly acquired beauty. If you don’t own a truck or have access to them, large home improvement stores like Lowe’s and Home Depot often have pick-up trucks available for rent for as little as $19.99. Not a bad deal if you just scored a major deal on the vintage hutch of your dreams! Sometimes you may also be able to negotiate transportation of large items into the price if the owner has a truck or SUV.
Don’t love it? Leave it
Just because something is cheap doesn’t mean you should buy it. It’s really easy to talk yourself into purchases because they’re a “good deal” but my rule of thumb is that if I don’t know where it’s going or how I’m going to use it, there’s no need to bring it home with me. And with that, happy shopping!