Treasure Hunting Tips: It’s Garage Sale Season!

By: Toni Cunningham | July 2, 2014
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When it comes to shopping, I am the queen. After applying for a Kohl’s credit card, I was upgraded to a MVC (Most Valued Customer) card within an embarrassingly short window of time.

This time of year, lots of people who generally don’t enjoy shopping in their spare time get in on the action, too. Why? Because summer is garage sale season! And whether you’re just driving by or you have a full itinerary of yard sales to stop at, when a neighborhood hosts a garage sale, it’s usually crawling with people the entire weekend.

Before you hop in your car and head out to a garage sale or estate sale, or host one yourself, keep the following hints in mind:

Tips for the seller

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  1. Don’t sell junk. This means don’t put out a bowl of bouncy balls for $0.25 a pop. Little Timmy can get the very same thing the next time he accompanies his mom or dad to Meijer, and you’re not likely to make much of a profit there. If the item you’re trying to sell came from your kitchen’s junk drawer, put it back. Or better yet, throw it away.

  2. Make sure your sign stands out from the rest. If a sub-wide garage sale is taking place, you want to make sure people see your sign and your sale first. Put away the thin Magic Marker and break out the big guns. Use thick, dark lettering, make sure you put the date and time on the sign, and if you choose to include an address instead of an arrow, make sure it’s large enough for the average Joe without 20/20 vision to be able to read it from his car.

  3. Price items reasonably, and prepare to negotiate. When pricing old Christmas sweaters and VHS tapes, remember that this is a yard sale and not a Macy’s sidewalk sale. That being said, price each item as slightly more than you’d like to sell it for, so that way if someone tries to talk you down a little bit, you’ll be more willing to do so.

  4. Don’t let anything go to waste. Meaning if you don’t sell a few items, or any items, by the end of the garage sale or estate sale, donate everything to charity. Purple Heart and The Salvation Army are great places to do so.

Tips for the buyer

  1. Don’t buy junk. If it looks like something that could be found in a junk drawer, i.e. a stapler, rubber bands, a stress ball or a ruler, you probably don’t need it in your life either. Don’t be fooled by the cheap prices!

  2. Don’t park in front of someone’s driveway, or in his or her driveway. This should go without saying, but it once happened to me. Someone parked at the base of my driveway, got out and went across the street to a garage sale, thus rendering myself and the rest of my family members with a motor vehicle trapped. Uh, hello. Like at all times, try a little consideration and common courtesy whilst yard sale or estate sale shopping.

  3. Do venture outside of your own neighborhood. While you might think your block has the only garage sales worth checking out, you might just find some festive potholders or some cute baby clothes a few subdivisions over. Now’s the time to explore the world around you!

  4. Do bring cash. Whipping out your platinum Visa card at a garage sale will probably not get you anywhere. Remember to bring cash, and in small denominations. If you’re lucky enough to have $100 bills on hand in your wallet, you probably don’t want to break them at a garage sale. Singles, fives and tens should do the trick.

To find estate sales in your area, try checking out, a website that allows you to search for estate sales in your area by city and state. That way, you’ll know that there’s a Spectacular Sterling Heights Estate Sale and an Awesome Saline Sale taking place this weekend, along with all of the details.

As for garage sales, iPhone and Android users can download the Yard Sale Treasure Map app, which allows the user to track down yard sales, plan a route, and even search for what exactly you’re looking for.

Hopefully now you feel equipped to tackle a garage or estate sale with confidence. Happy shopping!