How to Shop a Garage Sale like a Pro

Garage sales are a few of my favorite things about summer. Before the sharing economy and collaborative consumption were cool, there were garage sales.

My mom can shop a neighborhood sale like a pro. She once scored a Rubbermaid container full of Strawberry Shortcake dolls, accessories and houses at a garage sale for $10.

I've researched (aka shopped) to create this list to help you shop garage sales like a pro.

Get there early (but not too early)

You can find amazing goods at a garage sale if you get there early. Early means at the open time or right after—not before. It's perfectly acceptable to drive by the night before to scope out the the sale before it opens. But please, do everyone a favor, and don't shop until the sale is officially open for business.

Ask before you offer

The goal of every garage sale is to get rid of stuff and make some cash. If you don't like the price marked, ask the seller if they can give you a lower price. There may or may not be room to negotiate, the only way to find out us to ask. And there isn't any shame in a bit of bargaining. I recommend asking the seller to make the price lower because it gives you (the buyer) an advantage for negotiating.

Group your goods

This tip builds on asking for a price before you offer. Group your items as you shop and make an offer based on the goods in your hand. A coat might be priced $20, for example, but grouped with garden tools and a tricycle you have a bit of buying leverage. Try offering a price for a bundle of goods.

Carry cash

Cash is the currency of the garage sale. Carry all denominations to keep transactions simple.

Beware the never ending garage sale

Some garage sales last all summer. These sellers will be a bit harder to bargain with because they aren't in a hurry to part with their stuff. Tell-tale signs of a summer-long garage sale are clothing racks and temporary structures such as tents.

Garage sales are the ultimate secondhand shopping adventure. I'd love to see some of your favorite garage sale finds from summer. Show us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram or tell us in the comments.

Posted in garage sale, shopping, tips 7/29/2014 at 6:29pm by Jen Rittenhouse

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Off the Rack

Jen is the co-creator of Swap Meet Mama. She is a copywriter, marketer and trend spotter by trade. She loves to build things that connect with people and believes in the power of thrift store shopping. Her daughter, Stella Mae (aka, Maeby, Mae Mae and Nena) dresses almost exclusively in denim and secondhand duds.

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