For the Love of Garage Sales

At first, garage sale-ing was a necessity. When the hubs and I were engaged, we did not have much money, and we had NO furniture, besides an icky bed. So, most weekends the hubs and I would go out with all the little old ladies in Belton and hit the garage sales. We scored a lot of great things that we still have. Besides our couches and bed, every piece of furniture we owned was from a garage sale, Craigslist, or given to us. It was such a blessing!

It was weird when we actually decided to make a new furniture purchase from the store (a new bed)! The thought of spending THAT MUCH on something was crazy. But of course totally worth it- we no longer get back aches from our bed. In fact, it is so comfy we never want to get out! The dogs love it too!!

(sneak peak of our bedroom! maybe that tour will come soon!)

This is the dogs and me on the bed! They are such good snugglers!

But this is about garage sales, not our bed. We still love to garage sale. Items you can find at garage sales have character. Another great thing is the price – hello! Which is excellent for someone like me who would rather make it work with paint or jute than pay full price at a store.

It is almost the end of garage sale-ing season, since in a few months the weather will start to get cold! So here are a few tips to go take with you to conquer garage sales!

When you spot an item at a garage sale you like, love or are just considering, the first tip is to not show too much emotion. You can show in a subtle way that you like it and are interested, but don’t let on that you are attached or have-to-have-it– that will let the buyer know they control the price. Try to have a poker face. Be nice and polite, but don’t shout for joy that you love something!

Inspect the item. Make sure that it is in good working condition. If it is an electronic item, ask to plug it in to make sure it works. Sit on chairs to make sure they are not rickety or weak…. etc. Even if it is cheap, it’s not worth spending any money on if it is going to fall apart!

Think about the item in your house. This is something I have to make myself do. Again, even for cute cheap items, if you won’t have a place for it, it’s not worth buying! Think about the style– does it match your house? Will it fit somewhere? Do you have to do anything to it to make it work? How much would that cost? If you don’t think you can find a place for it, then don’t buy it unless you LOVE it, have been wanting one like this, and KNOW you will find a spot for it. 

If you have decided you want to take it home, think about what you are willing to pay for it. If there is a price on it, does it seem fair? It is a good idea to get a price in your mind that you want to offer, and the max you would pay for it. That way, when you get into bargaining, you know when to stop. By having a pre-determined price, you get a realistic price that is not driven by the emotion of “winning” the item, but based on what it is worth to you. And consider bundling items to get an even better price.

So, ready to pay, it is best to walk up to the seller with cash in hand. Be polite, say hi, and you can make a connection with the seller by commenting on the item by saying something like, “this is really unique.” Remember to not show how much you like it! Then to get a price, you can either ask, “what will you take for this?” if you think the price is too much, or just give your offer. If the seller wants to bargain, remember your max price, and be willing to walk away. If you give an offer with cash in hand that will help seal the deal!

Let me give you an example!

I spotted a pair of these tall, originally brass candle holders at a garage sale. I love the height and the curves. I knew they would give a great silhouette in a fresh color. I simply whispered to my hubs that I liked them, making sure not to show how much I liked them. I took a closer look at them. They needed cleaning, but otherwise were in good condition. They are level, sturdy, and heavy. Bingo. I was not a fan of the original brass color, so I knew that I could make a simple, easy, cheap change by giving them a few coats of white spray paint. Although when we looked at these we were in out apartment, I knew they would be great in front a a fire place someday soon! :)
They were priced for $10 for the pair. If I remember right, we were at the garage sale a little late in the morning when people get to the point where they want to get rid of stuff and are willing to take lower prices. So, my amazing haggler husband offered $1 each and we took them home!

I gave them some love with some good ol’ white spray paint and they look fab! I’m sure candle holders like these would be priced at about $20 each in a retail store. But they only cost me about $5 for both! Awesome. Now that’s why I love garage sales!


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