How to Garage Sale

First, yes, I’m still sick(ish) but garage sales only come once a week, and only for a few months of the year- so I drank myself some electrolytes, grabbed my cash stash, and made away without any kids. It was a good day. Again, wishing I had a camera– scratch that, I’m going to take a picture with my phone and email it to myself- just a sec…

0613091444aTah-Dah! Oh, isn’t technology marvelous!? What pieces of minutiae might we know of our ancestors if only… ah, well, it’s probably better. This way I can only dream of the horrors of giving birth in a Conestoga or washing diapers in a river in Wyoming.

Anyway, here is Abby, modelling with the wares of the day. I know it’s grainy- but come now, it’s a picture!~ I’m afraid what you can’t see is the table and stool all the stuff is piled upon. So underneath the hankies and dresser linens is a spool table and a vintage fold-out-step stool. Also, a tiger-oak singer sewing machine cover.

So the haul for the day:

  • A basket of vintage handkerchiefs, seen to the right in the photo, more than 30 of them- $2
  • Vintage fold out stool- $3
  • Antique Singer sewing machine cover, tiger oak veneer- $2
  • Spool table- $5
  • Bag of wooden spools, about 50, with thread intact- $2
  • gloves, 2 pair- $1
  • Assorted notions in 4 plastic bags, including ric-rac and pom-pom trim, all vintage- 25 cents a bag- $1
  • The faux-pearl tie (yes, tie!) Abby is modelling- 50 cents
  • Various knitting needles, including two sets of DP needles- 10 cents each-$1.20
  • Two antique photographs- 50 cents
  • Embroidered dresser scarves, 3 different ones, $1.50

Total spent: $19.70

For me, that’s a lot. I wouldn’t usually buy furniture, and my $5 table and $3 stool really put a dent in my budget for next week- but they really are super cool, and I couldn’t pass them up.


Many of you have asked me how I do this. I dunno. But as I bounced around the neighborhood today, I tried to keep track of what I was doing. and here are a few of my thoughts:

  • Carry cash. Have small bills and change with you- it makes bargaining easier, and is nicer to the people holding the sale.
  • Learn your neighborhoods. Some neighborhoods are great, some I avoid. Generally, the older, less fancy neighborhoods have the better sales- but not always. Newer developments will typically have newer things, like candles and press-board furniture, kitchen appliances, and what-not. Older neighborhoods are usually where I find things I like, like linens, sewing notions, and vintage pieces. It’s not rocket science why.
  • Be willing to dig. Some of the greatest stuff is in boxes.
  • Be willing to walk away.  If people are trying to get rich, telling me what they paid for it new, I’m not interested. It’s a garage sale. If I cared what it’s sold for at Target, I would be at Target. Most people are not like this, but I don’t even bother when they are.
  • If people are asking fair prices, I do not bargain with them. I give what they are asking and thank them. If they are a little high, I might ask for a deal- as in the bag of spools- it was marked $5, but it was later in the afternoon, and I only had $2 in my wallet. I asked the guy, he said sure. Score. I would not have pouted if he had declined.
  • Know your area. When I lived in California, sales were always Sat-Sun, but here in Washington, sales are almost exclusively Fri-Sat, with almost nothing on Sunday. I don’t think it’s anything to do with my church, since we are a minority around these parts, but I like it anyway. So for the best pickings, I go out Friday morning. For the best deals, I go out later on Saturday. By Saturday afternoon, many people are ready to be done, and are very willing to deal and dicker on their stuff.
  • I almost never make a list, but some folks have success with Craigslist, where you can get links to current yard sales. I know my neighborhoods, and with very few exceptions, usually just rely on road-signs.

That’s about it. I wish you luck and have a good time!

6 thoughts on “How to Garage Sale

  1. I bet people would be willing to pay you to go garage saleing for them…. not because they don’t have time, but beause you are just that awesome!

  2. Those are just the tips I was looking for. What great finds, as always! I totally want to go out now. How many places do you usually hit on a regular garage sale-ing day?

  3. Me too! When I saw it was three bucks, I jumped all over it. It’s a tiny bit wobbly, but a few twists of a screwdriver fixed that, and I scrubbed the vinyl with a toothbrush, and it’s sparkley clean now. Oh, how I love it!

Comments are closed.