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Garage Sale Tips: Finding Vintage Items at Garage Sales

garage sale vintage

Identifying Vintage

 Items at a Garage Sale

Vintage items are usually less than 100 years old, but older than 20 years. Today, the 1960s and 1970s are considered vintage and over 100 is antique, although there’s considerable overlap. Consult your local library for books on vintage furniture, clothing and so on.

Antiques Roadshow is a great source of expert advice. If there’s an antique mall in your town, you can visit it and find a staff member who can answer questions, too.

If you are specifically looking for vintage and antique items, your best bets are estate sales and neighborhoods where a lot of retired people live. If a sale has a lot of baby stuff, chances are you won’t find much vintage there. Bundles of old magazines and vinyl record albums are often a good sign that you’re in the right place. Most people now sell the really valuable stuff to antique dealers, so don’t expect to find rare first editions or an Honus Wagner baseball card sitting on a table. It’s possible, but not likely.

You’ll also want to b
eware of reproductions of popular vintage items. Check the manufacturer’s markings on the bottom. Sometimes these will be in code. With practice you can get a good sense of authenticity and value. If you’ve got a smart phone, you can also look things up on the spot to see if you’re holding a dud or a vintage treasure.

Caring for Vintage Items

It’s important to properly store and care for vintage finds.

Never put older clothing in a plastic bag and never wash it in a machine. Keep jewelry in cloth pouches in a cool dry place and use a professional cleaning solution. Clean vinyl records with a dilute solution of Dr. Bronner’s baby castille and store them upright in sleeves and covers.

There are plenty of books and websites telling how to restore your vintage treasures, or you can take them to a professional. 

There’s nothing like the satisfaction of having beautiful old things around you. It can give you a sense of stability and security that’s all too lacking in today’s world.

Have you guys scored any cool, vintage finds at yard sales? Share away in the comments!

Emma Martin is an avid garage sale fan, regularly scouring her city for unique finds and great deals. Weirdest thing she ever bought at a yard sale: a dinner plate with George W. Bush’s picture covering it. She is a content contributor for

Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by mayrodrigo

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