How to Start Shopping at Garage Sales

Anyone can buy stuff at a garage sale, right? But scoring great bargains requires a bit more than just exchanging cash for an item or two. To make the most out of yard sales, your best bet is to follow a strategy.
But how to start shopping at garage sales? In this guide, you'll find every step that you need to take to make your shopping experience worthwhile.

Step 1: Know Where to Shop

The first thing you should do before visiting a garage sale is to plan ahead. Simply, determine your route by checking a garage sale app that can help you plan a schedule. Luckily, there are plenty of these apps compatible with both iOS and Android devices.
Once you mark the yard sales that you're interested in, the app will provide you with a timeline so that you can visit all of them in suitable order.
However, things may be a bit different if you're looking for a specific item that you want to buy. If this item isn't listed in an ad, you'll need to send an email inquiry to the sellers before the yard sale takes place.
Of course, this scenario only works if the online ad allows you to send an email to the person running the garage sale. The major perk of following this tip is that it'll let you prioritize sales that you know include the items that you want.

Step 2: Narrow Down the Garage Sales That You Visit

Merely knowing the right garage sales that could have the things you need might not be enough sometimes. Usually, you'll have to limit those even further to save your time and energy.
For example, if you're looking to buy high-end products, you must direct your search toward pricier neighborhoods. The same goes for vintage items. These require you to look for sales in a part of town where entire families have resided for generations.
If you happen to stumble upon a garage sale while driving in town, consider visiting it right then. Usually, an unadvertised sale has less competition, so you may be able to get your hands on amazing items at it.

Step 3: Pick the Right Timing to Visit a Garage Sale

In the world of yard sales, time is of the essence. To make sure that you don't miss out on the best items, arrive at the sale during the first half-hour.
This tactic usually works in garage sales that include high-end furniture, pieces of art, and the like.
On the contrary, you may want to get to the sale later in the day to find better deals. Of course, this doesn't guarantee that you'll find what you're looking for, but what's life without a little risk, ha?
Typically, the hosts of a garage sale will lower their prices toward the day's end to increase their sales. You can always take advantage of this knowledge if you want to save some cash.

Step 4: Don't Forget to Take Some Packing Supplies

After making a successful purchase or two, you can't go fumbling around for a box or bag to put your bought items in, right?
For a smooth, hassle-free experience, take sufficient packing supplies with you to a garage sale. These items include boxes, bags, newspapers, and even elastic cords.
Doing this is especially important if you intend to shop for fragile items.
Also, remember to make sure that there's enough space in your car so that you can transport your bought merchandise safely.

Step 5: Pay Close Attention to the Condition of Each Item Before Buying

Inspecting each item before buying is an essential part of your shopping experience not to end up with damaged stuff. For example, if you want to buy a battery-powered device, remember to always have batteries with you to test it out.
If a product is electricity-powered, ask the seller to lead you to the nearest power outlet to check if it’s working properly.
The same goes for clothes, shoes, hats, and similar things. Although, these will require some extra attention for details since they could have hard-to-spot defects. In general, keep an eye out for missing buttons, stains, loose threads, etc.
As for when you're shopping for dishes or glasses, carefully run your thumb around their edges to ensure they’re free from nicks. If these are sold in sets, make sure to count all the items that come together.
Larger items, like pieces of furniture, should also be thoroughly inspected for torn fabric, stains, and stuff like that. Plus, you should measure the furniture to be certain that it’ll fit comfortably in whatever room you want to put it in.
Of course, it’s always a great idea to ask the seller about the condition of their products and how long they’ve had them. This should keep you well-informed and ready to make a clear decision about purchasing said items.

Step 6: Have Lots of Cash on You

In most garage sales, sellers will only get paid in cash. Yes, you may still come across people who accept credit cards. But these tech-savvy sellers tend to be rare in the world of garage sales.
To keep your experience as smooth as possible, stock up on cash, especially small bills. You won’t be sure if the sellers can make change at every single garage sale that you go to.

Step 7: Avoid Buying Some Items

Things like baby cribs, helmets, and car seats shouldn’t be bought at a garage sale. Old models of these items may not meet current safety regulations. So, it’s always recommended that you buy them new.
Also, purchasing used upholstered furniture may not be the best idea because it might contain bed bugs. Not inviting, right?


Learning how to start shopping at garage sales is pretty straightforward. All you’ll have to do is narrow down your search to the sales that interest you, time your arrival right, and keep a sharp eye for defects.
After following this guide’s simple steps, you should be the master of garage sale deals in no time!