This blog post is all about tips for garage sale shopping and how to score great deals when you’re garage saling. This is an abbreviated version of an interview with my wonderful sister-in-law Laura, who is an expert on tips for garage sale shopping and how to score amazing deals. You can watch the video below to get the full version, or read on to get the basic ideas from our fun chat.
As far as tips for garage sale shopping, how do you find good garage sales to go to?
There’s a lot of apps out there, but I use an app called Yard Sale Treasure Map. I get on it Friday night to see what’s posted for that weekend. That gives me an idea of where I want to go Saturday morning. Then, while I’m en route Saturday, I just keep my eyes peeled for signs and stop anywhere along the way that looks promising. Those surprises are sometimes some of the best garage sales!
What is a good time of day to go to a garage sale?
Depends on what you’re looking for. If you are on the hunt for a very specific item and know a particular garage sale has advertised that item, go at the beginning. If you’re looking to score a good deal, go at the end. This is when people are anxious to get rid of things and you’re more likely to get things at a reduced price.
Also, consider the weather! This is one of those good tips for garage sale shopping. If it’s scorching hot or super rainy, go in the middle of the day. People are often motivated to get things sold and get out of the weather, so use that opportunity to score some bargains.
How do you haggle at a garage sale?
Be friendly and chat with the owners a bit. Get a sense for whether they’re trying to make a good profit or how attached they are to their items. You can also pick this up from hearing how they haggle with others. Don’t be afraid to lowball…the worst thing someone can say is no. I always go in asking a little lower than what I’m willing to pay, and then I’ll gradually go up to my limit if they want to haggle. At that point, I have to decide how badly I want the item and if it’s better to just walk away.
Another tip is to have the cash in your hand that you’re offering. If you’re offering five bucks for something, have that five dollars in your hand and let them see it when you’re asking. It’s funny, but it’s a psychological thing, and it often works.
What is the difference between a garage sale, a yard sale, a moving sale, and an estate sale?
Garage sales and yard sales tend to mostly be interchangeable terms depending on the region where you live. Moving sales are typically larger as people are trying to clear out a lot of items before moving house. At an estate sale, you’ll often find larger pieces like artwork and furniture that you maybe wouldn’t find as much at a garage sale.
Is there a difference between estate sales run by a company versus estate sales run by the family?
If an estate sale is run by a family, you’ll often find you can haggle and bargain with the family a bit more for items. If it’s being run by a company, the company doesn’t have that wiggle room to haggle with you, so what they’ll often do is mark things down towards the end of the estate sale (i.e. 50% off everything the last half day, etc.) That’s when it’s good to go at the end rather than the beginning!
How do you avoid getting too much clutter in your home as you score good deals at garage sales?
I tend to work off a list, so I know what we need or want, but if I see something I really love, I just do a quick mental sweep of our home and think if there’s a particular place I would want to put that thing. If I REALLY love something, I just buy it and say I will find a spot for it, but we’re fairly minimal in terms of clutter and belongings, so I will often know in advance where I’ll want to use something before I buy it. If I don’t end up using it, I just resell it on OfferUp, Facebook Marketplace, etc.
Any final advice for a beginner?
There are lots of tips for garage sale shopping, but I’d say make a list. I often have a list going that I start in the spring before garage sale season. Be flexible! You never know what you’re going to find. Finally, have fun! Do it with friends and enjoy the hunt.