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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Garage Sale Season is FINALLY Here!

I love garage sales! I REALLY  REALLY REALLY LOVE garage sales. I love waking up early on a Saturday morning and venturing out (by myself!) to find treasures in other people's castoffs. Here's a few of the things that I came home with last Saturday:
  • NEWJoes Jeans for $2
  • A Stuart Weitzman Swarovski crystals clutch and matching heels for $5
  • black boots for fall for Miss G for $1.50
  • Melissa and Doug Puzzles for $1 each
  • NEW Disney princess dresses for $5 each
  • Ralph Lauren down winter jacket for my 5 year old to wear next winter $2
  • wicker rocking chair for my front porch for $10
  • Black eyelet Betsy Johnson dress $1
I easily saved over $1500 this weekend--not that I would have EVER bought those shoes or clutch, but they sure looked good on my feet on Sunday!

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

1. Do Your Research:

I always check Craigslist the night before. I'm picky and choose to only venture out to community garage sales. I’ve found that community garage sales not only save you time--and gas, 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 around $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 NEW 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 & Don't Be Afraid to Walk Away:

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. There are a lot of other people willing to get rid of their things.

Here's an example:
This past weekend I came across a BabySmart Cooshee Booster Seat at a garage sale. I love these and have three already, but I told my mom I'd keep an eye out on a few for her place. I asked the seller how much she was asking for the seat. Have I mentioned yet how much I dislike garage sales with no listed prices? She told me it was $10 so I went to put it back where I had picked it up from. She rudely called over her shoulder, "Fine! I'll give it to you for $7." I had not asked this particular seller for a lower price, because I could tell that she was a high pricer. I kindly told her that that was all right, but she insisted I could have it for $7. I then kindly informed her that I already had three at home that I had picked up at garage sales for $1 each. She scoffed at me and told me she could sell it on Craigslist for more than that.  No worries for me, I just walked off to the next one.

6. Inspect Your Treasure:

Make sure that your treasure it not broken, stained, or ripped. Hold it up to the light to check for stains. Does the zipper work? Are buttons missing? 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. I've bought things in the past that have had battery acid all over the inside.

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 coming Saturday (May 7) the following communities will be holding their fall garage sales in the Gainesville area:

Victory Lakes in Bristow, VA (located near Linton Hall Road and Sudley Manor Drive)
Amberleigh Station (located off Linton Hall Road)
Bridlewood, VA (located off Linton Hall Road)

Here are some of my favorite garage sale finds from sales past:

• 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+)
• numerous NEW Yankee Candles 50 cents - $1
• NEW two bags full of Usborne Books for $15 ($200 value) (great find for our homeschooling)
• NWT boutique baby Sweater for $1 (original price $90) (Who on earth would pay $90 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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