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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

I Love Garage Sales

I love garage sales! I REALLY LOVE garage sales. When I moved to Virginia from Las Vegas nine years ago Heather taught me the secrets to saving big at garage sales. I will be forever grateful for the early Saturday mornings she spent showing me the ropes. I love waking up early on a Saturday morning and venturing out to find treasures in other people's castoffs.

Here’s what I’ve learned along the way:

1. Do Your Research:

I always check Craigslist the night before. I only venture out to community garage sales. I’ve found that community garage sales not only save you time, but that the sellers are more willing to negotiate in pricing when they know there are a lot of other sales out there on that given day.

2. Be Prepared:

I head out around 7am on Saturday morning with $50 - $100 in small bills and change. I always bring a drink and a snack. I find my best deals first thing in the morning and around noon when people are packing up and calling it a day.

3. Want What You Buy and Buy What You Need:

If you don’t need it, don’t buy it. I’ve been guilty of having garage sale buyer’s remorse, but I have also been guilty of not buying something and wishing that I hadn’t passed it by. I’ve made the mistake a few too many times of thinking that I’ll find a certain item again and then I never find it again. And I’ve also placed an item down and had it snatched up right away by another savvy garage seller. I’ll never forget the brand new, still in the box, stainless steel warming tray for $5 that I thought two seconds too long about or the double Maclaren stroller for $15 that I passed by—what was I thinking? Or all those Calphalon pans for $2 each? Need I go on?

4. Know What You Are Willing To Pay:

There are prices that I am willing to pay. I will pay between 50 cents and $1 for children’s clothing. I will not pay more than $1 for books. If you know what you’re willing to pay you’ll save money by not buying high.

5. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask For A Discount:

Remember that these are garage sales—not retail shops. I always ask for a lower price. I don’t haggle or low-ball the seller, but I do ask if they are willing to take less. If they are not willing to negotiate a lot of the times I put the items down and move on to another sale. This is one reason I love community garage sales.

6. Inspect Your Treasure:

Make sure that your treasure it not broken, stained, or ripped. Does the zipper work? Is it washable? Does it smell bad? If you’re buying a game or puzzle make sure that all the parts, as well as the instructions, are there. If the item needs batteries, do not assume that new batteries will make it work.

7. Have Fun:

Just like everything else. If it’s not fun don’t waste your time doing it. I love garage sales. I love finding treasures and saving money on things I need.

This Saturday (September 25) the following communities will be holding their fall garage sales:

Braemar in Bristow, VA (located near Linton Hall Road and 28)

Parks at Piedmont in Gainesville, VA (located near Heatchote Blvd. and Catharpin Road)

Piedmont in Haymarket, VA (located near Heatchote Blvd and 15)

Here are some of my favorite garage sale finds:

• NEW Bumbleride Flyer Stroller for $15 (original price $350)
• Burley D’Lite bike trailer—had only been used two times $30 (original price $579)
• NEW Radio Flyer tricycle $1
• NEW Lil Tykes Sports Coupe $1 (sold three years later on Craigslist for $15)
• Double jogging stroller $10
• NEW Southern Living at Home Lidded Trifle Dish $5 (I'd been thinking about ordering it a million times)
• 3 different Power Wheels for less than $30 each (still going strong)
• NEW Crocs $1
• Thomas the Train Table with accessories $50 (sold on Craigslist two years later for $150)
• NEW Mary Kay Pampering Set $1 (original price $100+)
• NEW Yankee Candles 50 cents
• NEW two bags full of Usborne Books for $15 ($200 value) (great find for our homeschooling)
• NWT boutique baby Sweater for $1 (original price $106) (Who on earth would pay $106 for a sweater for an infant? If you think I'm joking here is the sweater.)

What was your favorite garage sale find? We'd love to hear about it.

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