Garage sales, rummage sales, yard sales and even estate sales….
In writing so many articles about budgeting and saving money, I noticed I haven’t written anything about any of these yet. Today is the start of my neighborhood garage sale and I was actually startled when I looked outside and saw the neighborhood literally looking like a parking lot.
Each year our neighborhood’s women’s group organizes a garage sale weekend. They also get a few of the other neighborhoods to particpate. And now, even the local school has their sale this weekend also. It is absolutely amazing how many people show up for this event. I’ve even seen plates from other states driving around! Personally, I have never been a garage sale goer, but after we had kids we were walking around the neighborhood sale and it was amazing. Forty dollar toys on sale for $1! $200 kids beds for $20! The deals are really amazing. Today, my wife and neighbor went out for about 30 minutes and came back with a $200 train table for $40 and five kids shirts, two transformers and a toy car, all for $6!
So garage sales are great, right? They can either be a source of income if you are the seller, or a great way to save money if you are the buyer. The answer is that they can be great. Here are a few tips to use when hosting or visting a garage sale.
Hosting a Garage Sale
When hosting a garage sale, there are a few tips to maximize your earnings. First, make sure you get your pricing right. If you have items that are truly valuable, make sure you check craigslist and ebay pricing so that you don’t severely underprice them. If no one wants to pay you a fair price at your sale, then consider selling them on craigslist, at least for the more expensive items. Also, remember that people come to garage sales to bargain. If you price something at $10, chances are someone will offer you $5. Take that into account when pricing your stuff. If you see someone eyeing up some of your things but they look to shy to bargain, you can still offer them the price you were looking for anyway.
Another important thing about having a garage sale is to advertise. In our case, the whole neighborhood advertised together. If you have something like this in your community I would highly recommend having your sale that weekend. If not, there are lots of sites that offer free classifieds (like craigslist) that you can post your sale information on. Add a list of some of your bigger items so people find them in your search. You can also add pictures to your listing to further entice people to come.
Also, team up with family and friends so that you have more stuff to sell. The better your sale, the more people will come.
Shopping at Garage Sales
When it comes to saving money by shopping at garage sales there are also a few pointers we have learned. The first and most important is to get there early. The best deals will literally be gone in the first 30 minutes a sale is open. In our neighborhood, the sale officially starts at 8am, but there are literally dozens of cars waiting outside the houses that have good garage sales every year. If someone opens their garage door at 7:30 to get their paper, people will start running to the door. It’s kind of ridiculous but its very true that the best deals come on the morning of the first day of the sale.
Another thing you should do is to set a list of items you are looking for, and try to stick to it. If you don’t have that mindset, you could end up buying a lot of stuff you don’t need. I know a couple that spend their weekends at garage sales. Their goal is to re-sell most of the stuff, but over the years they have collected so much junk that their car doesn’t fit in their garage any longer. In other words, if you are a hoarder, don’t go to garage sales.
Just like any other shopping, you should only buy what you need, and don’t go overboard because of all the good sales. For us, we go to garage sales once a year, when they are in our neighborhood. The rest of the year we use craigslist to find good used stuff. Garage sales can get addicting and they do take up a lot of time. Like anything else, use them in moderation.
Garage sales have been rewarding for us. We like getting a good deal on things we might not otherwise buy. And the kids love getting new toys that we can later give or sell to other kids. Overall, they have been good for us, and have probably saved us a couple hundred dollars or more.
Have you had any good or bad garage sale experiences you want to share?