DENVER (CBS4) – I remember my first treasure hunt. Strand after strand of sparkling baubles adorned the room. Trunks of fine silken gowns lay open for the taking. Feathered hats, shiny shoes, mysterious books, glistening crystal, sumptuous fur wraps … all of it was there.
Ah, my first garage sale.
I was about 11 years old when my folks took me with them to work at our church sale. I had about 2 hours to dig through all the goodies in the Friendship Room. It was a bounty like I’d never imagined. I had my purse in tow filled with about $3 in change. Lucky for me, at the end of the day, the fill-a-bag special was for … you guessed it … $3 a bag. I went home with shoes, purses, jewelry, books, records and dolls. Thus started my affection for garage sales.
After many years of garage sale shopping, “salers” develop a kind of radar. We can drive buy, scan a sale, and decide if it’s up our alley. If you’re just starting out, I recommend neighborhood sales. You can do an Internet search for a neighborhood name, then “community garage sale” and see what comes up.
When I moved into our neighborhood I asked where the best community sales are. Most areas have several. You should be able to get dates by doing a search, asking around, and checking the paper or Craigslist. Neighborhood sales can help you save gas because they provide one-stop shopping. You can also check the paper or Craigslist for sales that have items for which you’re looking.
It’s extremely time consuming to stop and start at every sale. So make a list of your most desired items. Let’s say — toys, books, glass wear and furniture. As you drive by, do a spot check for items that roughly fit the description. If you see something in a category on your list, it may be worth it to stop.
Haggling is a tricky topic. I don’t like to haggle much, so if an item is marked with a price I think is reasonable, I’ll usually take it. If the item’s overpriced (this often happens with parents who have their kids mark their own items — they’re either 10 cents or $10 — then I’ll politely ask, “Would you consider taking $X for this?” Or if I’m buying multiple items, I might come up with a round number that’s slightly less than the total and ask, “Would you take $X for this whole stack?” Usually, people just want to get rid of as much as possible. However, it’s much more difficult to haggle early in the morning when the sale has just started. You might go back later in the day or just start your hunt a little later to get the best prices. It depends on whether price or selection is your top priority.
When my kids were really little I would fill my car at our neighborhood sale. Ride-on toys, Barbie clothes, Hot Wheels, puzzles, books, games, and gently worn shoes and clothes are excellent things to buy for little ones. They grow out of things so quickly; you really can save money by buying at garage sales.
Some of my personal all-time favorite garage sale bargains:
Stuart Weitzman pumps for $5
HUGE box of about 30 Lego sets for $10
Books — I like to buy children’s books by the box, and then I sort through them and donate the ones we already have or don’t need. I once bought two big boxes of about 100 books for $2!
Nothing makes you feel better about what’s in your wallet than a really good garage sale! Let me know about your favorite finds in comments!
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And don’t forget the CBS4 Deal of the Day!
About The Blogger
- In her Brooke’s Bargains blog Brooke Wagner writes about finding bargains and saving money for her family. She calls it one of her favorite hobbies. Blog entries cover everything from the latest steals, deals, and freebies to cheap family activities, saving for college, and what to buy right now.