What Should You Look For At Garage Sales?


    Lately I have been noticing a lot of signs going up in my neighborhood and around my job for garage sales that are going on during the weekend.  I’ve often wondered if it would be worth my time to hold a garage sale of my own to get rid of all the “treasures” that are filling up our garage.  The truth is that I have only attended a few of these events over the years and I wanted to learn more about what I should be looking for when I shop at garage sales locally.

    I had the opportunity to discuss these garage sales with some of my neighbors and they had some wonderful insight as to knowing exactly what items are even worth purchasing secondhand.  The consensus among most of them seems to be that the best time to buy big ticket items at these sales is waiting until the end of the day.

    Most sellers are looking to sell everything by the day’s close and they start getting anxious about unloading big pieces like dining room tables or living room sets after watching them sit out there all day.  This opens the door for you to haggle for the best price possible by giving them hope that they will finally sell those big items.

    Personally, I would stay away from items that are upholstered due to the bed bug epidemic that has been going on in major cities across the country.  Only if you are confident that the furniture is free of these pests, should you consider purchasing.  Make sure you examine this type of furniture carefully or you may end up with some unwelcome house guests.


    Apparently, tools are always great items to snatch up at these sales.  The rule of thumb seems to be that, as long as they are in decent working condition, you should snatch them right up.  Warning signs to look for when buying power tools are loose parts and signs of rust.  These can be red flags that the tool is not in good working condition and can be dangerous to handle.

    Jewelry seems to be the garage sale item that most people hope to hit the jackpot with.  If you are looking to find that ever-elusive vintage piece, make sure you get yourself a portable magnifying glass that you can use to inspect for the designer’s hallmark or any other distinguishable markings that indicate value.  Such marks would include numbers that indicate the level of purity of the metal and even the signature of the designer.  This will give you a much better idea as to whether the jewelry is valuable or not.

    At the end of the day, garage sales can sometimes help you uncover valuable treasures right in your own backyard.  Take advantage of these events in your neighborhood but just make sure that you do your homework on each sale in advance.  Being prepared with regards to what you are looking for and how much you are willing to spend will go a long way in maximizing your finds!

Let’s Discuss:  What tips do you have for what you should look for when visiting a garage sale?


© 2015, Tough Cookie Mommy. All rights reserved.


  1. Lois Alter Mark says

    These are great tips. I am staying away from garage sales at this point because I have a ton of stuff I should actually be selling at one instead!

  2. I’m always looking for artwork or old records at the garage sales.

    • Lesley Stevens says

      This is another good one. I watch Pawn Stars and lots of people get artwork and old memorabilia at Garage sales worth something good!

  3. If you were to ask my hubby, he would say to go at the end of the sale. Most people just want to get rid of their stuff by then and are willing to take less than asking for it by that point.

  4. Terry My Journey With Candida says

    I only buy what I like or feel I have to have at a garage sale. I won’t buy clothing!!! Every May, my Daughters community has a huge garage sale that we participate in. We do VERY WELL there.

  5. I didn’t know that, thank you so much for the wonderful garage sale tips ^_^

  6. Lesley Stevens says

    Tools are a BIG ONE! I also go for toys because kids are so hard on toys, why not get something already a little banged up and save yourself a lot of money? Kids don’t care, they love toys, used or not used, it doesn’t matter. I got an original Cozy Coupe from the early 90’s and it still a treasure in my backyard. Everyone piles on that little red car.

    • Terry My Journey With Candida says

      My Hubs looks for the tools Lesley. I pass them by as fast as I can…

      • Lesley Stevens says

        I have to admit, tools bore me as a woman. LOL I do get them for my husband though. Tools are very expensive and garage sales have the best deals for getting them on the cheap.

  7. Katherine Bartlett says

    These are great tips. I wish I had the time to sale but we don’t go out on Saturday.

  8. This is great. I haven’t been to a garage sale in so long. I love garage sales but have such a hard time finding them in my area. I need to widen my search once the season hits!

  9. Carmen Nimo Perez says

    Truly, I’m not big on garage/yard sales, I don’t really like used items. But my siser loves them and she has found just about everything you can imagine at these sales.

  10. My Mom loves garage and estate sales and has dragged me screaming and shouting to many over the years. She tends to look for smaller items that have a vintage look about them-nine times out of ten they are vintage and she got them for a song! Waiting till the end of the day may be good for the big items–but to get those small items-get there as early as you can–or my Mom will be walking away with exactly what you were looking for!

  11. mena & taty says

    I am too lazy to get up early visiting garage sales. I do flea markets and go antique hunting

  12. I usually just look for clothes for my girls. I love getting jeans for under $3 a pair.

  13. I have found some great deals on antique furniture at garage sales. Sometimes you can find clothes with the tags still on too.

  14. I have to admit I used to love car booting in the summer, would love looking out for cute collectables. x

  15. celebbabylaundry says

    I haven’t been to a garage sale in ages, but I know my mom loves them a lot; they have some pretty cool stuff there!

  16. I guess it depends on if you’re looking for something specific. For me when I go which isn’t offer I’m looking for furniture to refinish.

  17. Lean Lacaba says

    I’m kind of like an expert on Garage Sales. I can negotiate that thing to the best price for me. 😀

  18. Mama to 5 Blessings says

    Scour the newspaper for the garage sales and I am always look for a bargain but try to stay away from buying things that are a good price just to buy and definitely haggle!

  19. Veronica Solomon says

    I only get furniture at garage sales, and never upholstered furniture. I also never get clothes and shoes

  20. A Local Wander says

    Love, love, love going to garage sales (and having my own, for that matter). Tools are definitely a hit or miss for working condition, you’re right. I’ve been doing more estate sales recently and found some GREAT unique finds.

  21. There is not so many garage sales around here so do not get to go to that often.

  22. Debbie Denny says

    I love garage sales. I have found some great stuff. Great tips.

  23. Melissa Vera says

    I am always looking for items to use when photographing pictures. You can always find them dirt cheap at yard sales.

  24. Meagan Bailiff says

    I like to look for things we can actually use.

  25. I love flea markets and search for jewelry.

  26. Ourfamilyworld says

    Those are great ideas. I look for paintings in garage sales.

  27. Amber Nelson says

    You just never know what you will find at a garage sale!

  28. I’ve held one successful garage sale in my life… I made $400 in 3 hours, and got rid of TONS of stuff, mostly baby gear.

  29. I’m always attending garage sales with my mom. It’s our guilty pleasure. We look a lot of jewelry and for furniture. You never know what goodies you will find!

  30. We always attend garage sales when ever possible, as it could help find some worthy needs for you. We have found so much of great stuff in the past & look for more in future.

  31. Chrystal M. says

    I usually go to garage sales at the end of their run. Most people are much more willing to wheel and deal at the end of their sale. My husband always looks for tools and random things. I always go to look for fun items for my photography stuff – especially small plates, bowls and other dishes for my food blog.

  32. Ann Bacciaglia says

    I love going to garage sales and I can not wait until Spring so I go to some.

  33. I love garage sales! My favorite thing to find is a cool piece of old furniture just waiting to be made over!

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