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The Good Life For Less: Garage Sale Tips

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Garage Sale
Alison Lorge Alison Lorge
Alison Lorge is the digital content manager and blogger at WCCO. She...
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Garage Sale, Yard Sale, Rummage Sale — whatever you call it, the season is upon us.

I’ve noticed a lot more of those signs posted around neighborhoods lately and that got me thinking that it may be the perfect time of year to share some bargain hunting tips if you plan on scouring garages in search of treasures.

• Go In With An Agenda
Know what you have at home and what you want. Maybe you’re looking for a special chair for that reading nook you’ve always pictured in your bedroom. Then don’t bother picking up the giant bean-bag chair because it’s a good deal. Stick to what you went there for and you will save money.

• Plan A Route
This will help you stay prepared and save gas money by not driving around town all day. Look on craigslist, the classifieds or you can check out the Minnesota Garage Sales Directory to find sales near you.

• What’s Your Type?
Just like with people, we all have a type — type of garage sale that is. There are the kid sales, book sales, technology, furniture, sports equipment, tools, antiques and collectibles … and so on. You can usually tell on first glance what type of sale it is going to be once you arrive. Find the type you are looking for and you’ve got love at first sight!

• Shop In Really New Neighborhoods, Really Old Neighborhoods

This isn’t to deter you from going to other areas to find what you are looking for, but to spot the best finds, go new and old.

New neighborhoods may have people that want to fill their brand new houses with brand new stuff — leaving their less-new stuff up for grabs.

Older neighborhoods may have those unique, antique pieces from people who have lived there for 50 years and need to sell them because they are moving to a smaller place.

• Only Carry A Certain Amount Of Cash On You

This will help you not only with overspending on things you don’t really want or need, but it can also help you with the art of bargaining. If you only have $25 to spend on the chair — then they can’t sell it to you for $30.

• Don’t Be Afraid To Negotiate
Bargaining can be a tricky, but the most important things to remember are to be polite, look the part and arrive early.

You are much more likely to get what you want if you show good manners. On top of that, if you show up wearing a big diamond ring or drive up to the house in a fancy car, you may be taken less seriously trying to get a price knocked down. Who wants to give a deal to someone that looks like they could buy out the whole garage sale?

For more negotiating tips, click here.

• Shop In Bulk

You may be more likely to get all those Star Wars figurines if you negotiate the price as a set. Or maybe those old VHS tapes of kids’ movies would sell quicker at four for a $1 as opposed to $0.50 each if you bought 20 of them. You would be surprised how badly people want to just get rid of their stuff or see it “go to good home” with someone who enjoys it as much as they did.

• Check Before You Buy

Check for chips, scratches, and missing parts. Buying something electronic? Ask if you can plug it into an outlet or bring some batteries with you. There is no sense wasting money on something broken. Remember, Mrs. Johnson’s house doesn’t have a return policy. But if it doesn’t matter to you, or if you are handy, buy it up!

• Don’t Let Your Perfect Find Be My Binocular Flask
Doesn’t makes sense … yet … but this basically means don’t let a good deal slip away. If you see something you would like or something that would make a good gift, pick it up and carry it with you while you decide. One thing I remember not picking up at a sale was a brand new flask that looked like binoculars. It would have made a funny, kitschy gift, but I was too slow. So hurry up and get your deal on!

-Alison Lorge is a web producer and consumer blogger at WCCO.

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