First, know in advance what you are shopping for. When you shop for clothing, have a list of exactly which clothing items each family member needs along with their measurements. Carry a soft tape measure with you. Since items can’t be returned from a garage sale, you don’t want to make any mistakes. When shopping for an item for your home, bring an small sample of the color you are looking for. Out in the bright sun, colors may appear differently so having a color swatch helps.
Equally important to knowing what you’re looking for, is knowing how much you want to spend. Before you go garage sale shopping, know the retail price of each item you are looking for. This information makes it easier to spot a deal. Since it’s so easy to get caught up in the buying spirit, have a dollar amount in mind for what you are willing to pay for each item used. There’s nothing worse than getting home and realizing that you paid more than you wanted to.
At each garage sale, if you don’t see what you are looking for, don’t be afraid to ask. Last month I went in search of a girls 24 inch bike. I inquired at each sale, and at the fourth sale, the lady wheeled out a beautiful Huffy bike from her garage that she wanted to sell, but forgot to set out. It was in great shape and at a great price, but I know if it had been out when the sale started, it would have been gone by the time I arrived.
Go early, or late to sales. This strategy is an easy one. The first ones to a sale get first crack at the good stuff. By attending later, sellers may be more willing to negotiate on price. You will encounter sellers who practically give stuff away just to get rid of it. Make sure you are prepared to shop. By that I mean, know where the garage sales are in advance, so you can plan the best route to take. Bring drinks and snacks, especially if you are taking the kids with you. Have singles and loose change easily accessible so you can buy quickly and move to the next sale. Be sure and wear comfortable clothing, especially shoes.
Here in Florida, entire communities hold their garage sales on the same day. Look for areas in your town that may do the same. Many sales close together helps you maximize your time, and gives you a better chance of finding what you are looking for. I have found everything I could ever hope to find at garage sales. Some of my best treasures include an English riding helmet for my daughter, the first handheld Nintendo video game (now a collectors item), and a set of china for 8 that retails for over $500 (of course I paid significantly less). Now that you know these tips and tricks, you can reel in some great deals too. Happy Hunting!