This post by L.Leander, Author of Fearless Fiction
It’s late summer and one of the biggest events in our area during the summer months are garage sales. Bright colored poster board signs dot streets with arrows you hope will lead you to the right place. It’s more than frustrating to follow a garage sale sign that goes nowhere (probably from the week before and no one took the sign down.)
Garage sales can yield a plethora of things you need (or think you need) at low prices. Sometimes I find just what I was looking for – but I didn’t need it and didn’t really know that I was looking for it.
A few of my finds have been really good though. Once I found a motorboat in good running shape. The seller was a woman whose husband had just left her and she sold everything she could just to get rid of it. I got the boat for $100; we used it two summers and sold it for $500. Another find was a pop-up camper in good shape. I had to dicker on that one, but finally took it home for $75. Again, we used it for a couple of summers and resold it for $250.
When I lived in Florida I sold books. Since I love them so much, I would scour garage sales and used stores for what I thought would sell. I looked for old books, signed books, and any specialty books. (I once bought a Railroad Book for $.25 and sold it for almost $60!) I found a set of free 1950’s magazines at a sale that the seller gave me. The two went for $50. At the time I was making over $1,000 a month just perusing garage sales and selling my finds on eBay.
My favorite garage sales were in a large city in Michigan (my home state). I mapped out a route that usually yielded good finds. This was an old city and antiques were plentiful. I bought lots of glassware that I had researched, enjoyed it for a while, and resold it for a big profit. I found some really great things there.
If you’re interested or think you might be interested in garage sales, I have a few tips for you.
- Go early. Be on your route by 8:00 a.m. (The early bird gets the worm is true in this case).
- Before you leave, be sure you have plenty of cash, but set an amount that is reasonable and don’t go over it. I sale until I am out of money and then I have to stop, even though I might see lots more signs.
- Check out estate sales. Although many times the items are priced a bit higher, it’s not always the case. I’ve purchased lovely linens for pennies that I use for my sewing.
- Neighborhood sales are the best! Park the car and walk, if you can. I often leave items I’ve purchased with a sold sign and my name on it and when I’m through walking I go pick it up.
- Research what you’re interested in. I looked for two years for a little Singer sewing machine that I wanted for quilting. I only found it because I asked the seller if she had anything like that. She went inside, brought it out, and I almost had a heart attack! It was in perfect condition. I’m really very good at bargaining and I got the machine for $40. I used it for my quilting classes until I moved to another state, and then sold the machine on eBay for $350. During the time I had the first one I found another at a flea market for $100. I sold that one for $325 the same week.
- Wear comfortable shoes (sneakers are preferable), loose clothing including a jacket and umbrella in your car in case you need them. Wear a “belly” bag – like those you get as souvenirs at amusement parks. It’s easier to have both hands to work with.
- Keep a couple of bottles of water and a protein bar in the car so you don’t have to stop.
- You may think I only garage sale to resell but that’s not the case. I could go on and on about bargains I’ve purchased for hubby, myself, the kids or my dog. Like-new clothing, furniture for my house, art supplies, material (for sewing), a grill for the camper (for $10 – like new), a crate for the dog, a violin case for $1.00, a few musical instruments, etc. I could really go on and on but I’ll stop here.
- I hope this post has been beneficial to you. My intent was to show that not only can you buy things for yourself at low prices, but you can also have a small business and have fun at the same time. I’ve given up the business part but I still enjoy scoping out sales for things I need. We just went through the campground on a Golf Cart ride and stopped to talk to some people we met in the hot tub. We’re looking for a 10’ x 20’ canopy that can be converted into a screen tent. This is for our deck so we have more coverage and things don’t get so wet. The screen will still allow us to see the lake, but we’ll be able to sit outside in the evening without being carried away by mosquitoes. I don’t know how the subject came up, but there was a frame to a canopy standing next to their camper and we mentioned we were looking for one. We already know the price of a new one and had actually planned to purchase one next weekend. It turns out that our campground is having rummage sale days next weekend, the canopy belongs to their mother, and she will sell it. We will definitely be at their camper at 7:00 a.m. to hopefully pick it up at least at half price – I’ll have my bargaining shoes on.
So, whatever your summers hold, you might want to check out a couple of garage or rummage sales to see what I’m talking about. I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments. Have a great time and good luck!
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