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How To Score Big At a Garage Sale

Get exactly what you are looking for -- and maybe a little more -- without paying retail prices at a good ol' fashioned garage sale.


  • Step 1: Test all items that use a power source. You don't want to get home only to find out you spent money on something that's broken. However, if you're handy, something broken may be just what you're looking for.
  • Step 2: Look for gifts or holiday items you will pay much less for at a garage sale in the middle of summer as opposed to full price at a store during the holiday months.
  • TIP: Carry around the items you think you may want while you're at the sale to avoid someone snatching them up.
  • Step 3: Carry bags and newspaper to wrap your newly found items. Carry small bills and change to help you as well as the seller. Whatever it is you are out to find, have fun looking for it, and make it worth every cent.
  • FACT: In 1989, a lucky man shopping in a flea market purchased an oil painting for $4. When he removed the frame, he found one of the 500 official copies of the Declaration of Independence, which he sold for $2.42 million.
  • Step 4: Haggle with the owners. Don't assume that the price is fixed. Offer another, lower price. It's a skill you may need to hone, but it's an excellent way to get the best prices.
  • Step 5: Be on the lookout for items that the owner may not know are a jackpot, like old snowboards, tools, antiques, books, music, and electronics. Don't be afraid to ask the seller if they have something you don't see. You never know what they may have inside.
  • Step 6: Map your route by checking the newspaper or websites throughout the week. Once you've got a list of sales, map your route in order to efficiently hit each sale.
  • TIP: You may find nicer things in affluent areas, antiques in a retirement community, and baby items in a starter home area.
  • Step 7: Start your shopping day as early as possible. This is when you will find the most items. However, shopping at the end of the day can sometimes get you better prices on items that people are looking to get rid of.
  • Step 8: Know how much things cost at retail, and set a budget for yourself on certain items. If you know you don't want to pay a dollar for a book, don't do it.
  • Step 9: Maintain a list all year round of things you need or want. Tape it to your refrigerator while you add to it, so when you venture out, you know exactly what you are looking for.

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