Garage Sale Shopping 101: How to Shop Like a Pro

In budget, Your Guest Writers, Your Home, Your World on May 2, 2010 at 6:59 PM

Hi everyone!  My name is Rachel, and I’m so excited to be guest posting at Live Well For Less.  My friends and I started in March 2010 to share our money saving tips and tricks with others.  

We quickly realized that, day in and day out, we’re all working very hard for many different goals, such as education, retirement, vacation, a car, a home, family, etc. So, we created, which is a community focused on helping you find resources (both online & offline) for a fit wallet, so you can live your lifestyle!  Members receive free access to the community, where discussions take place in the forum, examples are shared on the blog and more. Additionally, members receive free tips by e-mail and webinars. In the future, we’ll develop more opportunities, such as training seminars.  Please take a minute to visit the site and sign up!  It’s free to join and filled with great information. 

Image Courtesy J M Griffin


As we are approaching garage sale season, I wanted to share a few tips to help you find the best deals and items for your household. 

1. Browse your local newspaper (don’t forget online versions) and Craigslist for garage sales of interest. Pay special attention to the top items listed in each listing. If you are in a household without children, you might want to stay away from those listings that boast baby and children items. When you find listings of interest, write down the address of each sale and map them out so you can set out a clear path and not waste time and gas. 

2. Focus on specific locations. I tend to browse the garage and estate sales of those homes in my neighborhood. This allows me to get some exercise while getting to snoop at my neighbor’s stuff. Growing up, my sister and I would drive to the nicer neighborhoods in the town next to ours. She was really into looking for clothes for herself and would find lots of barely worn, brand name items. I found my first set of golf clubs, bag included, for $1. Also watch for neighborhood or block sales. This will allow you to drive to one spot and have access to items for sale from numerous sellers. Similar in size to neighborhood and block sale are church, school, and charity rummage sales. These are typically held at an interior location, such as the church or school, and all proceeds go to the organization or a specific project that should be advertised. If these events are over multiple days, the organizers are much more likely to give great deals on the last day so that they don’t have to make arrangements to store remaining items or send to collection agencies, such as Goodwill or Salvation Army. 

3. Estate sales. These tend to be better organized than a garage sale and typically take place after the resident has passed away. If you are looking for more household items or vintage clothing, these might be your focus. 

4. Time of day. You will have the best selection of items if you get there early, but will be able to find better deals at the end of the day. If you find an item specifically listed in the ad that you are interested in, it is in your best interest to get there early. The owner is also less likely to bring down the price much if it is an item that will generate a lot of traffic to their location. Please be kind to sellers and don’t arrive before the listed start time of the sale. These sellers may be trying to finish some last minute preparation of their sale, or just catching some last zzz’s before the big day. 

5. Haggling. Don’t be afraid to offer a lower price than marked for any items that you are interested in. The seller may be more willing to accept a lower price if you are purchasing several items. Please be respectful of sellers and don’t offer an unreasonably low price. Offer a price that you feel represents the value of the item. 

Do you have any other tips for garage sale shoppers?

  1. These are great tips, and just in time for the garage sale season!
    The only thing that I would add is to have a budget in mind to prevent buyer’s remorse. 🙂 And wear comfortable shoes.

    • Hey Jen,
      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your tips. 🙂 My advice: Remember to bring ones, fives and maybe a couple of $20s, in case you find that Royal Doulton figurine you’ve been looking for. Also and just an FYI: National Garage Sale Day is Aug 14th this year.

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Malinda Wilson, Live Well For Less. Live Well For Less said: Garage Sale Shopping How to Shop Like a Pro […]

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