If you haven’t tried garage sales for finding merchandise to sell on eBay, maybe you should explore this option. There is a strategy for getting the most out of your garage sale shopping efforts. Here are a few tips to help you maximize your efforts, and minimize your time investment.
1) Plan ahead. Go to craigslist to look for garage sale ads in your area. More and more people are relying on craigslist for free advertising. Garage sales usually start on Fridays, and the posts on craiglist start appearing on Tuesdays. Check daily for new posts, and keep a list of sales in your area. You can also look at your local newspaper’s website for garage sale ads. The big neighborhoods will usually advertise there. You can find a lot of items quickly if you go to the neighborhood sales, versus sales scattered around town.
2) Go to sales in the affluent parts of town. First, they will have better items. Second, you have no idea of a person’s financial situation and they may be having a garage sale to pay bills.
3) Go early. Most garage sales will start at 8 AM. Arrive early to get the best selection. The earlier in the day you start the better chance you have of finding “good” stuff.
4) Take plenty of cash. You don’t want to have to take valuable time convincing the seller to take your check. Most people have a garage sale for one reason – to make money. They don’t want checks – they want cold, hard, cash.
5) Be prepared. Wear comfortable walking shoes. Take bottled water. Keep snacks in the car. Bring your cell phone in case you find something you are unsure about, you can call your spouse or a friend for their opinion.
6) Don’t be afraid to bargain or make offers. People have garage sales to get rid of stuff. They don’t want to have to haul it all back in the house at the end of the day. Make reasonable offers and be fair.
7) Use the “cash in hand” technique. I do this all the time. Say for example I find something for $20, and think it is overpriced. I inconspicuously take a $10 bill out of my pocket and walk up to the seller. Then, with the bill in plain view, I say, “Hi, I am interested in that item over there. I only have $10 left, would you take that?” Seeing the cash, the seller usually takes it. The idea is to be reasonable. The later in the day that you use this technique, the better it works.
I have some interesting stories about garage sales. I went to a huge neighborhood sale in my community last fall. The woman had all kinds of men’s items – really nice clothing, shoes, golf equipment, sporting goods, and “guy stuff.” I found a really nice pair of Justin lizard skin boots, barely worn, for $5. (These boots retail for about $300.) That was an amazing find. So, I went to pay for the item, and the woman started telling me how she and her husband had a fight and he left town on a hunting trip for a week. She was having a garage sale and getting rid of all his stuff that she didn’t like. I asked, “He isn’t going to track me down and get me, is he?” She just laughed, and said, “Probably not. I might sell his car, too.” Those boots ended up selling for $98 and were shipped to Germany. You might be wondering what to look for at garage sales.
Here are some examples of what I have found, and how much the items sold for on eBay.
1) George Forman grill new in box , $5, sold for $30
2) Hooked on Phonics set, excellent used condition, $5, sold for $68
3) Mary Kay cosmetics, various items new in boxes, paid $1 each, sold for about $10 each (the lady was a Mary Kay rep getting rid of inventory)
4) Oscar de la Renta wool blazer new with tag, $5, sold for $52
5) Wagner wallpaper remover steamer new in box, $5, sold for $25
6) Dr. Martens shoes, gently worn, $3, sold for $47
7) Pampered Chef apple corer/peeler, used with box, $5, sold for $20
8) Men’s Nike Shox shoes, gently worn, $3, sold for $46
9) Yankee 20 oz jar candle, barely used (was lit once and the person didn’t like the scent), $1, sold for $12
10) Lexmark printer ink cartridge, new in box, $1, sold for $16 Look for items new in the package or new in the box. Look for gently used designer apparel and shoes.