Through the course of time almost everyone has been to a garage sale at one time or another. If you’re the type of person who thinks garage sales are a waste of time or you wouldn’t be caught dead buying something from a garage sale, then this information is not for you.
If you’re the type of person who enjoys the thrill of going to garage sales, searching for that great buy that will net you a sweet profit from reselling then continue on…
My focus here is eBay, but there are other online auction sites that you can sell on as well. I deal with eBay, because it’s the largest and best known auction site that generates tons of traffic.
Ready? Let’s get started.
Here are the first steps in preparing for “hitting” garage sales. Take a look at My Top List of Profitable Items to get an idea of what you’ll be looking for. Read this section carefully and read it again.
Next you’ll need a source of garage sales. You can almost always find listings in local new papers, shopper type news papers, bulletin boards in launder mats, shopping centers, etc.
Read through all the sales listings and circle and/or cutout your possible prospects.
Things you’ll want to keep in mind are times and dates. Once I actually showed up at a sale a whole day early. Then I was a little upset when the people said that they weren’t open for business yet. I wondered what the heck the deal was, until I remembered I had the day off from work and it wasn’t Saturday, but Friday! Needless to say I felt a bit embarrassed and kind of dumb.
Most often garage sales will run Friday and Saturday, very seldom on Sunday. If you’re in the position to hit a Friday sale early then more power to you. Good items will go fast! Choose the sales you want to hit and plot your course. What? Plot your course? Yes, that’s right plot your course. When you’re out hitting garage sales you want to have a course plotted so you can effectively reach your target destinations without wasting precious time and gas.
You may want to try to make a big circle to hit all the sales you can or start with the farthest and work your way back home. It’s also a good idea to have a map of your area. I don’t know how many times I’ve driven around aimlessly looking for a street address. Remember you want to get as much accomplished as you can in a reasonable amount of time. No sense in selling an item for $20.00 dollars if it cost you $35.00 dollars in gas and time. You get the idea.
Next you want to bring your bankroll – Money! Ok, you don’t really need a big wad of cash, but as time goes on you’ll learn what your comfortable bringing. I usually bring anywhere from twenty to fifty bucks. It depends on what I’m looking for and willing to spend. Just because you have fifty or more dollars with you doesn’t mean let it burn a hole in you’re pocket and spend it all. You have to be a bit conservative especially if you’re on a tight budget.
A good assortment of bills is 10 to 15 one dollar bills, a few five dollar bills and maybe a couple tens and twenties if you can afford it. The one dollar bills are the most important. People at a garage sale aren’t likely to break a hundred dollar bill for you. Also bring some coinage such as quarters - they’re good for buying books and small items.
I like to put 10 one dollar bills in one pocket, the coinage in the other pocket and the rest in my wallet. The idea is not to negotiate a price with a seller then whip out a large wad of cash to pay for your item. You may want to buy more items from this seller so you’re trying to make it look very casual. It’s also not a good idea to flash a lot of cash around for safety reasons.
When you show up at the sale you’ll want to be as early as possible, but not too early. Some people will advertise “no early birds”, which means they don’t want you on their door step at 6:00am for an 8:00 am start time! Five or ten minutes early maybe ok, but you don’t want to start off on the wrong foot with your seller.
Be sure to dress casual and comfortable. Leave the business suit and corvette at home! You’re trying to make a casual and relaxed atmosphere for buying.
My Top List of Profitable Items:
The following is a list of items and any attributes/comments about them I feel has been helpful:
- Yes those little plastic kits you put together with glue. Some scale sizes: 1/24, 1/25, 1/32, 1/48.
- Car models especially older Mustangs, Corvettes, and Chevells.
- Truck models, usually tractor trailer due well.
- Brand names of models to look for: Revell, AMT, Monogram
- The more complete the model the better, but not always necessary
- Older models due very well, the same with limited editions
- Trains are a hot item. The small electric type can fetch good profits.
- They come in different scales (sizes) such as HO, Z, OO, S, O, and G.
- Brand names: Lionel, Tyco, Marx, and Bachmann are common.
- Train cars due very good. Box cars, cabooses, tenders, etc.
- The older the set the better. Complete sets not necessary.
- Keep any boxes, directions, miniature parts. They all list well.
- Those little candy dispensers that have a Disney, Star Wars, Comic, or other types of characters can bring in some cash to a collector.
- The older the better, plus limited editions.
- Rare or odd shape is very good.
- Dispensers that don’t have “feet” on them do well. Look at an eBay listing for PEZ dispensers without feet to see what they look like.
- Books can bring in some good cash, but only if you know what you’re looking for.
- Vintage (older) books, 1800’s – early 1900’s. Do some research here, because it can be a little tricky to know which ones do well.
- Children’s books, especially rare or limited editions.
- Old Betty Crocker cook books, old Sears Christmas Wish books, old Vogue magazines can do very well. Older Life magazines can be worth something usually if it’s Beatles or Elvis editions.
- Old, rare and limited editions with dust jackets usually sell good.
- Christmas decorations come literally a dime a dozen. People get rid of all sorts of stuff rather cheap.
- Christmas ornaments (bulbs) can be very profitable. The ones basically you look for are the old indented type. If you look closely at the small metal cap were the hook attaches you’ll hopefully see made in Poland or Germany or the words “Shiney Brite”. Poland and Germany are very good. Shiney Brites only if older.
- Ever seen those older electric tri-color rotating wheels you shine a light through to make the Christmas tree turn multicolor? They’re very good for resale.
- It’s strange, but true that older concert t-shirts do well.
- Rock groups such as Iron Maiden, Ozzy Osborn, Black Sabbath, Twisted Sister, Guns and Roses, Metallica, and Grateful Dead. Country Folks like Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash bring in some cash. OK, bad joke.
- Look for summer tour shirts with multiple bands too.
- Don’t be too upset if they’re worn or with small holes people still buy them!
- Older board games such as Green Ghost, Pollyanna, and Chess Sets to name a few.
- Older isn’t always better. Games that you build or have unusual board pieces people seem to really want.
- The more complete a game is the better, but sometimes people may be looking for additional game pieces to replace lost parts from a game they already have.
- Brand names such as: Parker Brothers, Milton Bradley and Transogram.
- Slot cars are those little electric race cars that go on a plastic track.
- Older 1960’s 1970’s do well.
- Mustangs, Corvettes, older Fords, Chevys, etc. Trucks too!
- The older complete set can be very profitable, but I usually do well just selling the cars.
- I recommend keeping a transformer and the piece of track it connects to for testing the operation of the little electric car motors. Old racetrack parts are common and you can use spare parts to build your little test track. Not always necessary for the car to work. People collect the body styles as well.
- Brand names: Aurora, AFX, Tyco, Tomy and Carrera.
- One tip to help your auction listing is to mention the condition of the windshield support braces. Buyers like it better if they’re not broken, but not always necessary.
- I’ve done very well with fishing tackle such as lures and reels.
- Older wooden lures can command a very nice price!
- Brand name lures such as Heddon, South Bend, Clark, and Creek Club sell great!
- Fishing reels such as Hardy, Ambassadeur, Shimano, and Mitchell.
- Reel types: Spinning, Casting Fly.
- Any boxes, directions, etc. are a big plus.
- Certain types of bamboo poles sell.
- Kid’s toys can make you a nice little profit. I’m not talking about the bins of junk that you’ll usually find at most sales.
- Vintage Fisher Price toys such as Weebles (the wooden ones) are very good.
- If you can find a vintage (older) Green Weeble Tree Tot Tree House then you’ve hit pay dirt! Vintage is usually from the 1970s. Look for Fisher Price “Little People” too!
- Older toy soldiers and horses made by the Marx Company are a big seller.
Here are some additional items I have also found that do very well if you should happen to run across them.
- Limited edition baseball gloves especially the “Wilson A2000”. It must be an A-2000 to really get the big bucks. Look for very old catchers mitts too.
- Older, rare or limited edition cameras such as Canon AE1, Konica F & S models, plus Kodak Super Six 20 camera. They don’t always have to be in working condition. Buyers want them for parts.
- Older (1970s) video game systems with games.
- Memorabilia /promotional items from blockbuster type movies. Cardboard stand-ups of characters.
- Certain types of costume jewelry. Research brand names and get familiar with them.
- Vintage wooden arrows: target tips or broad heads (hunting tips).
Do’s and Don’ts for Garage Sale Profits
- Do your homework – Research-Research-Research!!
- Do bring small bills: ones, fives, tens, twenties.
- Do take your time, within reason, and carefully evaluate the items you want to purchase.
- Do be prepared for some rejection. Not everyone will want to negotiate.
- Do carry pen and paper to help you keep track of your purchases.
- Do be polite and patient when dealing with sellers.
- Do plot a logical route to hit as many sales as possible.
- Do have fun, be safe and learn from your experience!
- Don’t be in too much of a hurry.
- Don’t be impulsive unless your gut feeling is really telling you to purchase an item.
- Don’t fall in love with your investments. A quote from “The Donald” Trump. Remember your goal is to make a profit.
- Don’t broadcast you’re looking for eBay items to resell. You want to keep cost as low as possible.
- Don’t take advantage of people only situations. You’ll sleep a lot easier at night.
- Don’t engage in anything illegal! If you’re suspicious then just walk away.
- Don’t give up! The treasures are there for the finding. With a little practice and a bit of luck you’ll be picking up real deals in no time.
Well there you have it. Now go out, find some good stuff and sell it on eBay for a nice profit!
Deron (author) on January 01, 2011:
Thanks Mr. Shekel! This is the second article that has been used without my consent. I guess I should be flattered, but if it is earning Adsense clicks well then...
Any way thank you for the head's up!
Mr Shekel on January 01, 2011:
Just as a head's up, I found this HubPage copied and used on another website: http://www.docstoc.com/docs/67978815/Garage-Sale-T...
I found this person has about 1,000 articles which appear to be mostly stolen content. 6 of my own articles have been used and I had to send the website a DMCA Complaint and they took mine down, but the writer still has many left. You might want to follow up so you don't lose traffic.
Deron (author) on November 12, 2010:
Sounds good Rosie! Thanks for the comment!
Rosie Rose from Toronto, Canada on November 12, 2010:
Very useful! I used to go garage sale shopping with my sister when the kids were small. My sister was a great shopper, while I on the other hand is a stupid shopper meaning I pay the asking price.
I'm new here too. So you got a new friend.. ME! Will you be my friend too? We can be newbies together.
Have a nice day!