Garage sales are a bit like buffets: people come, take what they want and move on.  That’s about it.  If you’re willing to expend a little effort, you can maximize your bargain-finding potential and get yourself some screaming deals. Here’s a few tips how to get the most bang for your garage sale buck.


  • Know what you’re looking for. Jot down a list of the items you’re most interested in picking up.  While you’re at it, do a little research to see how the items you need are typically priced.  You can find a multitude of price guides with tips on finding good deals.  You can also check online at websites like to find pricing information.
  • Look for sales in affluent neighborhoods. Not to sound snooty, but wealthier people have better stuff.  You may find better, brand name goods in better condition.
  • Time it out right. If you’re looking for the best selection, hit the sales early in the day.  That’s when sellers will have their best items out.  If you’re seeking deals, hit the sales late.  Sellers will be tired and just looking to get rid of things, so they’ll be more willing to give you a bargain.
  • Sharpen your negotiating chops. If you want an item that’s out of you’re price range, there are a number of methods that may help you get the seller to lower his asking price.  You can simply ask ‘Will you take less than that?”  You can offer a preferred price.  Be sure to offer a price that’s reasonable.  If the item you want is priced at ten bucks, an offer of $6 dollars is a lot less insulting than an offer of $2.  You can ask for a bulk discount if there multiple items you want.  There are a lot of ways to negotiate.  Pick the method you’re most comfortable with and go to town!
  • Leave your phone number. If you want something and you can’t justify spending what the seller is asking, leave your phone number and ask the seller to call you later if the item hasn’t sold.  The seller should be in more of a negotiating mood and may give you the item for a price you’re more comfortable with.
  • Be nice. Be affable.  Be friendly.  Nobody wants to deal with cranky, curmudgeonly shoppers.  Worse, if you get to aggressive or snooty, you may tick off the seller and they won’t deal with you at all.  A smile and a pleasant demeanor can go a long way.
  • Don’t be afraid to walk away. If you can’t get a price you’re looking for, put the item down and walk away.  The seller may be a little more flexible if he/she sees she may lose a sale.
  • Always test stuff before you buy it. That stereo you find for $5 won’t seem like such a deal if it doesn’t work.  That $10 dollar lawn mower will just become another thing to trip over in the garage if it doesn’t run.  Always test out anything you may want to buy.  Ask the seller if it’s okay to plug in electronics or start up lawn implements or power tools.  If the seller refuses, walk away.

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