Signs have started appearing in my neighborhood – estate sale, garage sale, rummage sale. Garage sale season is beginning and through May and June they will be in full force. I’m passionate about smart spending and scoring a good deal, so garage sale season is one of my favorite times of the year. I’ve been going to garage sales for as long as I can remember. My mom is an avid garage sale shopper and would take me with her when I was little. Today I’m sharing my favorite garage sale shopping tips.
Garage Sale Shopping Tips
- Have proper change. I always have quarters, dollar bills and fives. Bring enough money to cover what you typically buy. If you are open to spending more, say $50 on the perfect piece of furniture, then have the money with you. The last thing you want to do is give up a deal because you didn’t have the funds, or worse, haggle a $1 item down to 50-cents and then ask for change.
- Plan the course. I like to research sales the week of on Craigslist and in the newspaper classified ads. Then I input the sales addresses in advance into my Garmin Nuvi GPS Navigator System. The GPS navigator helps me navigate neighborhoods I may not know well, keeps me hands free and helps me hit up sales next to each other.
- Wear comfortable clothing. Dress for the weather and wear some good walking shoes. Also, if it’s going to be sunny don’t forget sunscreen, your sunglasses and maybe even a hat or visor. The HALO Visor works great for wicking sweat away on a hot, sunny day.
- Start early, stay long. Do not snow up early and harass a seller before the advertised start of a sale. I’ve been on the selling side and that is not enjoyable. But, if the sale begins at 8 a.m. feel free to arrive a little early, find a parking spot and walk up as soon as the sale opens. If you are shopping later in the day, many sellers want to “get rid of everything” and are more eager to make a deal.
- Bring water, coffee and snacks. I love treating myself to a Starbucks coffee when I’m out shopping at garage sales. Also, bringing a water bottle and some easy-to-eat snacks help feign off hunger during a long day. Individually wrapped nutrition bars such as LARABAR are perfect. Fresh fruit, such as bananas, and snack cracker packs are other options that work well on the road.
- Don’t be afraid to haggle. Haggle within reason and know your limits. If you are only willing to pay $1 for an item and the seller won’t budge on price, be OK walking away. If you really want the item, you can try to haggle and then decide to pay full price – but know what your plan is. Haggle within reason and don’t offend the seller. If an item is $7 I may offer $5, but I’m not going to offer $5 for an item marked $20. I do not haggle on every sale either. Use discretion.
- Shop with an open mind. I always tell sellers I’m just browsing, and I truly am. I’ll know my purchase when I see it. There are some items in the back of my mind on wish list, but the joy of garage sales is finding that perfect item you never knew you wanted or needed.
- Be friendly and have fun. Put on a smile and be friendly to other shoppers and to the sellers. I always say hello and thank them for having a sale even if I didn’t find anything.
Garage Sale Shopping Tips
Those are my favorite garage sale shopping tips. I am looking forward to using those tips to score great deals at sales this year. Are there any tips or shopping secrets I missed? Please share them in the comments.
*This post was originally published in 2014 and has been updated and republished for accuracy and comprehensiveness.