Hello again, garage sale people. Welcome back to Part Two of our series about your springtime habit. Last week we covered the best way to handle yourself as the host of a garage sale. Today, we talk about the buying side of things. Chances are you won’t find a lost Picasso, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t treasures afoot. Keep these tips in mind this weekend.
Fuel up, and plan ahead.
You may have seen some “Garage Sale This Weekend” signs around town, but Craigslist is your go-to for the majority. Plan your route efficiently for several sales in one day. Most garage sales start around 9 o’clock, so start accordingly, but eat breakfast! That lava lamp you bought last year can be blamed on hunger.
Make an “avoid” list first.
Old televisions should top this list. Also, pass on printers that are more than two years old. You’ll tear your hair finding cartridges and drivers for those things.
Then make a wish list.
For some, garage sales are for impulse buys, but the best shoppers have a plan. Make a note of what you would like to add to your home before you leave it behind for the day.
Inspector Clouseau (or Gadget, if you prefer).
Closely inspect clothing for tears and permanent stains. Examine the joints and connection points on furniture. Ride the bicycle around the block before spending good money on it. This level of inspection is especially important when it comes to anything electrical. Test consumer electronics and mechanical items before buying, and ask tons of questions about how the owner used them. If he/she seems unsure, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy the item. It means it is time for the haggling portion of the garage sale. For some, this is the most fun part of the day.
Garage sale haggling for fun and profit.
Most garage sales aren’t held to make a zillion dollars. Instead, they’re a way to lower the “stuff” quotient in the home. Haggling works for both parties. You spotted a $250 London Fog leather jacket, listed for $30. “What price can you give me on this?” But, play fair with the seller. Don’t pick up one item and try to drive the price down. Instead, find and buy something small from your wish list (or at least not on your avoid list), and then go in for the kill on the biker jacket.
Look for collectibles.
Rookie baseball cards of players who later became stars, stamps with a foreign country origination mark, and old coins. These are three examples of garage sale items that can be turned into good money later.
Take along a “Do you really need” person.
Will your significant other like the ceramic pig as much as you like the ceramic pig? Was a ceramic pig on the wish list we spoke about earlier? Having a friend along who stays cool under the garage lights can be a great help.
Don’t be afraid to ask for what you don’t see.
Ask sellers for things you would consider buying, even if they aren’t visible for sale. A good 33% of sales are hosted by someone who has an item inside they are willing to sell. Many pianos are sold to someone with the courage to ask.
Come back when the crowds have thinned.
Desperation is a beautiful thing for a garage sale buyer to smell. Prices come down, and some items even make their way to the trash area.
There you have it. Both halves of the garage sale question. Enjoy your time buying, and selling, the items that will make a second family happy.