Treasure hunting at local garage sales can be as much of an adrenaline pumping thrill as hitting a jackpot on a one armed bandit in Vegas. It can also be a phenomenal waste of time, gas and energy.
The key to finding the best bargains is hitting the right sales at the right time. As with most financial ventures, dumb luck plays a shockingly significant role, but you can substantially improve your odds by following these simple tips.
Thank God for Church Rumble Sales
The best advice I can give any serious yard sale hound is go to church on Saturday morning. Charity garage sales are the best! This includes Boy Scout and Girl Scout sales, high school lacrosse team sales, little league baseball sales – you name it. I always hit the fundraisers first.
Fundraisers almost always have tons of merchandise to look through, consolidated for you in one easy stop. You can see as many items at one charity garage sale as in 20 individual ones without all the driving around.
In fact, there’s so much merchandise the volunteers working the sale are just about dying to get rid of it! They’ve already spent several days, maybe even weeks collecting the items, organizing and pricing them. The last thing they want to do is box them up and haul them away after the sale.
The sellers are motivated! They’re also not particularly attached to the merchandise. Individual sellers are often so hung up on what they originally paid for the items they’re selling; it’s difficult to get a reasonable deal. Not so in a group setting, where the goal is to move everything out before closing time.
Craig’s List Stealer
Craig’s List may not be a good place to find a date, but it’s the best source of information on upcoming garage sales I have found. As print ads become more and more expensive, sellers are looking for ways to get the word out without emptying the till.
Finding the best sales doesn’t take a lot of time, but a little planning goes a long way. I usually spend about an hour perusing the Craig’s List ads while watching TV on Friday night (it’s not rocket science – half a brain is adequate here). I have a little spread sheet, so when I find a listing I like, I can copy and paste in information like: area of town, address, highlights (church, dollar items, women’s clothing, etc), directions and hours.
When I’m done I sort the records by area, then time, and print out my itinerary for the following morning.
Community Mash Up
I’ll usually note any community garage sales on my spreadsheet, but they’re not my favorites. Community garage sales are obvious choices for most buyers because of the quantity of sales in one area, so there’s a lot of competition for the good stuff.
They’re also extremely easy for the sellers. The community usually does the advertising. All the seller has to do is put up some signs – and not even that if there are other sales on his street. As a result, a lot of people who don’t really have much to sell will open their garage door and set a table out in the drive way with some stuff they were thinking about throwing away. Most of these are not even worth stopping for.
Location, Location, Location
Where to shop for second hand goods is largely a matter of what you want to buy and how much you’re willing to pay. If you’re looking for tools and parts, shop the blue collar neighborhoods. Enjoy boating? Haunt the streets surrounding the lake.
It might seem obvious that high dollar real estate equals quality goods, but most truly wealthy people don’t need to have garage sales. Instead they consign their items or donate them to their favorite charities.
Fundraiser garage sales in these neighborhoods are fantastic!
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