How To Shop At Garage Sales Like A Pro

The warm weather is finally upon us and with it comes a favourite past time: garage sales. Learn how to shop at garage sales the right way with these 10 easy to follow tips

10 Best Tips on How to Shop at Garage Sales

You have the desire to decorate your home but you are on a budget. You know that there are good scores to be had at garage sales but the whole concept makes you feel a little unsure. What with the haggling, the searching, and the approaching a strangers space. It’s all just a bit overwhelming.

I get it. I hear it all the time, “I’ve always thought about going to a garage sale but I wouldn’t know where to start.” Fortunately, I have a ton of experience both selling and buying at garage sales and I can teach you exactly how to prepare for garage sales and how to shop them like a pro.

Approaching Garage Sale Shopping the Right Ways

Garage sales are a DIY decorators dream come true. The unbeatable prices, coupled with the hunt, and the creative spontaneity can be an irresistible to many of us.

If you haven’t yet discovered the benefits of shopping garage sales for home decor you are in for a treat. It is the perfect solution for those of us who love decorating our homes with beautiful decor pieces but want it all done on a budget.

Garage Sales Can Save You Mega Decor Money

I have shopped and I have sold at many a garage sale.

Hubby and I are both avid DIYers and garage sales are often a fun date-day out. There is just something about the thrill of the hunt. It’s like a little zing in your belly. What treasures will there be to find?

You know the one. You’ll be walking the dog and suddenly a bright, red sign will catch your eye. Big, black, bold letters offer the crucial information:

How to Shop At Garage Sales Like A Pro

Now, there are some basics you should know for how to shop at garage sales the right way so that your shopping experience is enjoyable and so that you increase your chances of it being successful.

You plug it into your GPS and add it to your calendar. Oh, this is going to be good! You start going over all the things you hope to find. Maybe they will have the perfect dresser for your little girls room or another beautiful piece for your milk glass collection.
The possibilities are endless.

How Do I Prepare For Garage Sale Shopping?

white padded armchair with brown wooden frame

When you put effort into the preparation the whole experience runs smoothly. If you want to know how you should be preparing for garage sale season the following tips are sure to start you off on the right foot:

Walking can be pleasant and gentler on the wallet but it does limit the number of items you can pick up. Driving costs more (especially right now) but it does allow you to go to other areas and pick up more or larger items.

This way if your walking you won’t waste time wandering streets and double backing. If you are in the car having a route planned ahead of time will definitely save on gas.

I suggest that before you buy an unplanned decor piece try to come up with at least 3 places in your home that it will go. If you can then buy it.

There is nothing worse than bringing home a piece and it not fitting. So know the spaces that you want to fill and know their measurements.

Because you won’t have time in the morning if you’re leaving early. You’ll also be less likely to forget something.

So that you can check prices on items to make sure that you are getting a good deal.

And for those just in case moments make sure that you bring a cell phone charger for the car/

How to Discover Local Garage Sale

PRO TIP: Make sure that you read the fine print on the adverts. Sellers will often list the most sought after or more expensive items to attract customers. This will give you an idea of what you will find and whether it’s even worth your while.
Example: You need furniture for your teenage son’s new dorm room and the advertisement reads – toys, baby clothes, and exercise equipment. Sure they might have some furniture… maybe. But I say hedge your bets and instead head to the one that lists furniture and kitchen items as their first options. You’ll likely have more luck.

What Should I Wear to a Garage Sale?

I don’t know about you but I am all about comfort when it comes to just about everything. The next few suggestions will help you plan for what you should wear to garage sales so that you are happy and comfy.

If it’s not too hot, layers are the way to go. Rain? Bring a rain coat with a hood and not an umbrella.

Even if you’re not planning on walking wear comfy shoes with no heel. This is a must. You’ll still be on your feet a lot and you’ll be navigating lawns.

This may not look stylish but it will keep your hands free and you won’t forget your purse full of cash on some random table.

Especially if it’s going to be hot out and you’re going to be garage sale shopping in the middle of the day.

Sun protection is always a must. I recommend La Roche tinted sunscreen for the face. Neutrogena also makes an excellent, budget friendly sunscreen for the face.

What Should I Bring to a Garage Sale?

The items that you should bring to a garage sale can make all the difference in how the whole experience goes. For the optimal garage sale experience you should try and bring the following items:

A truck is the best option. If you can get your hands on one. They come especially in handy when you are shopping for larger items. At a minimum, try and get a car with a big trunk or fold down seats.

This is where that preparing comes in handy. Bring your list so that you know exactly where you are heading. Make sure to enter the address in your Google Maps so you don’t get lost.

Again, you got this all prepared so make sure you bring it with you. Or better yet, put it in your phone.

You are going to need this for Google Maps, comparing prices, taking pictures, and for storing your lists.

It’s going to be a long day so make sure you have plenty of cold water so that you can stay hydrated. To save time and money bring some yummy snacks so that you don’t have to stop and get restaurant food. You can even pack a small cooler to bring.

This is an especially great tip if you plan on walking to those garage sales.

Pack Smart – List of Packing Supplies You Should Have On Hand

It’s not wise to expect that sellers will have everything needed to transport your items safely. Some will be well prepared while other’s will take the less is more approach. Bringing the following items will help ensure that no matter what you find it will all get home safely.

person holding vinyl records
  • Cloth or plastic bags are great for carrying away all of your little items.
  • Packing paper comes in handy when you need to wrap up those fragile items.
  • Blankets or sheets are great for wrapping up larger art pieces or furniture.
  • Elastics can be wrapped around items that may fall open, would be safer rolled up, or you want to keep a few items all together.
  • Bungee cords are a need-to-have in case you find an irresistible furniture piece and you have to fit it in the trunk of your car.
  • Masking tape is perfect for taping drawers close or for attaching smaller items to larger items.
  • Zip Loc bags are great for corralling those smaller items.
  • Totes or boxes in your vehicle are great for holding items together and to prevent them from moving around and possibly breaking.

PRO TIP: Keep all of these supplies in a small tote. Store the tote in your trunk, your garage, front hall closet, or the basement. That way, whenever you’re ready to garage sale shop everything is already packed and set to go. Also works well for flea markets and farmer’s markets.

How Do You Haggle at Garage Sales? Get the Best Price

These few easy tips will teach you how to haggle at garage sales in order to get that price point you are looking for… or at least close to it.

Use your cell phone to check prices. How much is it selling for on eBay or online? What is the original price? How much can you get it for brand new?

You’ll catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. The same can be said for great deals.

This way you can give exact change and you won’t look like a schmuck after you haggled them down to $3.75 and then pass them a $50 bill.

Stand tall, speak clearly, make eye contact, and speak with authority.

If the price is just not right be prepared to walk away and find something else, some place else.

Common Garage Sale Items That Make Great Home Decor

Now that you know how to shop at garage sales and you have your treasures what do you do with them? Try a few of the following suggestions for decorating your home with garage sale finds:

Think: planter covers, in a beautiful centerpiece, for holding extra towels, to organize closets, or as wall art. The possibilities just go on and on. So, don’t pass up those lovely baskets.

Are a steal at garage sales, they are easy to alter, and they can be used for more than just wall art. Think: serving trays, tiered trays, or faux lanterns.

Can be found in abundance at garage sales and you can get them for so cheap.

Think: DIY candles, wall art, or tiered trays.Think: DIY candles, wall art, or tiered trays.

Think: tiered trays, raised trays, or as the base to a glass jar.

Can be found for a song at most garage sales and they make excellent decor pieces. You could wrap them in paper and personalize them, or tear them apart and use in them in DIYs.

Are easy to transport and if you shop carefully you’ll find that often you just can’t beat the price when it come to the quality. Much like this gaudy dresser that I transformed into a beautiful, farmhouse TV stand.

Ya Basic, How to Shop at Garage Sales Tips

These are the basics for knowing how to shop at garages sales. Learn these, and you will be already a step towards pro.

For the more sought after items, antiques, valuable items, and for more variety. Things haven’t been picked over yet and the vendors are often just setting up so they are usually a bit distracted. Just expect to compete a bit with the professionals and die hard garage sale shoppers who also know to arrive early.

For the best deals. This is when the seller no longer cares and just wants the stuff out of their garage. Any leftover treasures can often be scored for next to nothing and sometimes you can even get it for free!

SelleNeed I say more?and should only be reserved for impressive items. This is where that cell phone comes in handy for price checking.

Need I say more?

Garage Sale Shopping Faux Pas You Want to Avoid

  • Being a garage sale snob. This includes turning your nose up, insulting the person’s things, or open mouth laughing at the options.
  • Turning into a road hog. Find a proper place to park. Not beside another car, on the boulevard, or in the middle of the street.
  • Being all Daddy Warbucks and bringing only large bills won’t gain you any favours. Plus, like I mentioned above, it’ll likely end up costing you more in the end.

What Should Not Be At Garage Sales?

The following items should not be at garage sales and if they are you should not be buying them:

no matter how pretty these should not be purchased at garage sales due to serious safety concerns. Baby is not the time to be playing with safety concerns.

There is just no way of making sure that the colour is going to match. Plus, the paint can be old and there’s no way to know the conditions it was kept in. Best to buy new.

Smells, bed bugs, cock roaches… Oh my!

Um, gross. Think about what the bed is used for. And they call it BED bugs for a reason. My vote? Skip it and buy new.

No matter how adorable. These are just dust magnets and then their is once again the possibility or those pesky, disgusting bed bugs again.

Such as: platters, bowls, china, wood bowls, plates, cups, and glassware. This is just not safe and it’s broken. It ain’t a man so don’t try and fix it.

Jenny’s Finishing Thoughts On Garage Sale Shopping

Now, armed with all the knowledge you need on how to shop at garage sales like a pro you can head out prepared and ready to find those great home decor deals.

What could be better? Your doing something good for the environment, saving yourself a ton of money, and you are getting to use your creativity to create a beautiful home.

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