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Garage Sale Tips: Finding Vintage Items at Garage Sales

by Emma Martin
garage sale vintage

You can find hidden treasures, vintage clothing and jewelry, and even valuable antiques by diligently attending garage sales.

Not only is a garage sale a great place to score vintage goodies on the cheap, but stocking your closet with second hand treasures, you can avoid supporting big box brands and the questionable production and labor practices that accompany them.

With a bit of careful planning and an alarm clock you can have first pick of the best items. Are you replacing childhood treasures you regret throwing away as a teenager? Looking for older appliances for the engineer in your household to fix up to sell or use? Seeking out collectors’ items to keep or sell on eBay? Sooner or later your items will turn up.

Planning for a Garage Sale Trip

Garage, yard and estate sales can take place any time although most are scheduled on weekends. They are often advertised in the classified section of the newspaper and on Craigslist as much as a week beforehand. There are now websites specifically for posting garage sales, but these may not have all the information from your area.

Fine weather is necessary for a good sale, so keep an eye on weekend weather forecasts. If you go to an advertised sale, be sure you get the address right and find out exactly where it is. MapQuest isn’t always reliable!

With a little observational skill you can find out when the most popular garage sale seasons are in your area. Drive around and look for signs posted at street corners. In college towns, sales often take place at semester’s end. Don’t be afraid to go off the beaten path to seek out sales in older neighborhoods and nearby towns. You’ll know a good sale when you find it.

Timing Is Everything

Getting the best picks at a garage sale has always been a matter of first come, first served. Today, thanks to eBay and Antiques Roadshow, many more people are aware of the potential value in older items. Although very unlikely, it’s occasionally possible to get hundreds of dollars for something you bought for a dime.

People who are in the know about collectibles like trains and dolls sweep the tables clean at these sales, so be sure to plan your garage sale tours ahead of time.

You’re likely to want to go to several sales on one day. The action usually starts very early in the morning: 6 a.m. is not unusual. Get a good night’s sleep the night before and get up early enough to eat a good breakfast. Take along a thermos of coffee and some sandwiches. Wear clean, comfortable clothes and good shoes, since you’re going to be on your feet most of the day.

Most important: decide beforehand on the amount of money you want to spend and have a bit more than that amount in cash. Use ones, fives and tens, along with a roll or two of quarters.

Next>> Identifying vintage items at a garage sale and how to care for your vintage scores.

Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by peyri

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