Plan ahead. Go to craigslist to look for garage sale ads in your area. More and more people are relying on craigslist for free advertising. Garage sales usually start on Fridays, and the posts on craiglist start appearing on Tuesdays. Check daily for new posts, and keep a list of sales in your area. You can also look at your local newspaper’s website for garage sale ads. The big neighborhoods will usually advertise there. You can find a lot of items quickly if you go to the neighborhood sales, versus sales scattered around town.
Go to sales in the affluent parts of town. First, they will have better items. Second, you have no idea of a person’s financial situation and they may be having a garage sale to pay bills.
Go early. Most garage sales will start at 8 AM. Arrive early to get the best selection. The earlier in the day you start the better chance you have of finding “good” stuff.
Take plenty of cash. You don’t want to have to take valuable time convincing the seller to take your check. Most people have a garage sale for one reason – to make money. They don’t want checks – they want cold, hard, cash.
Be prepared. Wear comfortable walking shoes. Take bottled water. Keep snacks in the car. Bring your cell phone in case you find something you are unsure about, you can call your spouse or a friend for their opinion.
Don’t be afraid to bargain or make offers. People have garage sales to get rid of stuff. They don’t want to have to haul it all back in the house at the end of the day. Make reasonable offers and be fair.
Use the “cash in hand” technique. I do this all the time. Say for example I find something for $20, and think it is overpriced. I inconspicuously take a $10 bill out of my pocket and walk up to the seller. Then, with the bill in plain view, I say, “Hi, I am interested in that item over there. I only have $10 left, would you take that?” Seeing the cash, the seller usually takes it. The idea is to be reasonable. The later in the day that you use this technique, the better it works.