Here are two lists of tips for buying at garage sales. First, PR Leap offers Five Myths of Garage Sales (and how they are keeping you from finding garage sale gold). The five myths are:

  1. Stuff at garage sales has all been used. It’s true that much of the stuff for sale at garage sales has been used, but it’s generally in good condition. There’s also a lot of stuff that is brand-new. When we had our garage sale last year, I put out a number of things that were still new-in-box.
  2. Stuff is dirty. This is silly. Stuff at garage sales isn’t dirty. Sellers want you to buy their stuff; they’re not going to put out things caked with grime.
  3. I can get what I want online (via eBay). This isn’t always true. And on-line items involve longer waits, shipping charges, and the potential for bidding wars.
  4. It’s too time-consuming. In a matter of an hour or two on a summer afternoon, you can hit ten or twelve garage sales. You probably won’t find anything you want at most of these, but every so often you’ll stumble across the perfect bargain. Garage-saling takes as much or as little time as you want to spend on it.
  5. I’m no good at negotiating. Neither is the seller, probably. It cannot hurt to try.

Next, Living on a Dime offers Ten Garage Sale Shortcuts.

  1. There are two types of garage sales: the ones where people want to make money and the ones where people want to get rid of stuff. The latter are best for finding deals.
  2. For maximum efficiency, map out your route. This is only for the truly hardcore.
  3. If at all possible, leave the kids at home. If you must bring children with you, make sure to bring plenty of snacks. Allow the older children an allowance to find bargains of their own.
  4. Be prepared. Wear cool, comfortable clothes. Bring lots of change and dollar bills. Keep your money in your pockets, not your purse. Bring a tote bag.
  5. When you find something you’re not sure you want, pick it up and carry it with you while you continue to look. This prevents somebody else from finding it while you’re trying to decide.
  6. Always ask politely if the seller will reduce the price. Beware: sometimes the prices are so low that it seems impolite to ask for less.
  7. If there is something you really want, but the seller is asking more than you want to pay, offer a lower price. If they say no, leave your name and number in case they change their mind.
  8. Check items for hard-to-see tears, stains, and breakage. Better safe than sorry.
  9. It is best to go early, but don’t panic if you can’t. The best stuff is available at the start of a sale, but the best deals can be had later in the day when the seller is tired and nonplused about carrying everything back into the house.
  10. If you don’t have success in one part of town, try somewhere else the next time. Sometimes the best garage sale neighborhoods are the ones you don’t expect.

All of the above tips are great. One other important tip is to search craigslist for garage sale information. Craigslist offers a list of garage sales in your city, often with a preview of the most desireable items. It’s easy to plan a morning of garage-saling with craigslist.

[both links via Frugal For Life]

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