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Best Things to Buy at a Garage Sale - To Keep or to Sell for Extra Money

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Garage sales or yard sales have been around for decades, and are a great way to not only clean out your house, garage or basement, but to purchase things on the cheap.

Whether you shop for things you need for yourself, or maybe to resell as a part time business, they can be very lucrative for both buyers and sellers.

The traditional time to start garage sales if you live in an area that experiences seasons is May to October.  Many keen shoppers will be at a sale at dawn just ready to pounce on the best products.

garage sale finds

But this can cause a price war, and really the idea of a yard sale is to get a good deal, so here are a few tips to get a great deal and some of the best finds from my experience.

Sleep In and Have That Extra Coffee

Most of the diehard shoppers show up at dawn and buy what they want then off they go, so yes maybe you lost out of some cool stuff, but the prices would have been too high, but there are still deals to be had.  If you show up at mid morning, such as 10am till noon at a reasonably sized sale, there will still be things to check out, especially where neighbours have pooled together and are all over a front lawn and driveway.

garage sale finds

The best part about this time of morning, is that the homeowner is probably pretty much exhausted and looking around at the thought of having to drag the stuff back in the house.  If you are looking for larger items, such as furniture or garden equipment, then bring a pickup truck and be ready to haul it away for them.  They are likely to take a low offer just to get it off their front lawn if they don’t have to wait for it to be gone, so be ready.

Old Furniture - Look Past The Surface

If you have a creative eye, this part is easy, but if you don’t bring someone who does.  Many pieces of furniture, especially tables and dressers can be brought back to life.  No, you don’t have to sand and strip paint and varnish for hours, there are products that can go right over the surface now, such as Zinsser primer that can create a good tooth for a painted surface.  You can furnish your home on the cheap if you are willing to do a little work.

I personally tend to stay away from upholstered furniture unless you are sure of the source or can take it to a re-upholster center without going home, as bed bugs love couches too!

garage sale finds
Colour Recipes for Painted Furniture and More
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Make sure the item is in good repair, and ignore the red or purple colour or scratched up varnish; there are ways to deal with that, so just look for the basic structure being sound.  I purchased a coffee table for 10 bucks at noon from a garage sale, and then painted a scene on it and sold it for 200 bucks at a craft store, without stripping it.  Just cleaned it well and used it as my blank canvas.

One person’s junk is definitely another person’s treasure!

garage sale finds
Fancy-fix Vinyl Self Adhesive Drawer Liner 17.7 inches by 78.7 inches
Amazon Price: $15.98 $5.98 Buy Now
(price as of Jan 6, 2016)

Whether it is for your craft business, or to outfit your home or apartment, garage sales are a great place to start, and don’t be afraid to offer less especially if the sale is winding down.

Tables, dresser drawers, end tables, coffee tables and the list goes on, all can be rehabilitated if the bones are in good shape, most shoppers are looking for easy to carry items.

Framed Gaudy Art - Skip the Art and take the frame!

This is another great find.  Once again you may need to look past the gawdy canvas or picture that is in the frame, but simply look at the frame.  Make sure it is in good condition.  If it is solid wood, chips can be filled with wood filler, if it is metal, metal paint can do wonders. 

Frames are very expensive to buy, especially larger ones.  So, if you see old frames lined up against the wall or in a pile, most likely no one is interested because they can’t see past the idea of the gaudy picture or the chipped looking frame.  Remember, retro is in, and reusing is definitely a great idea.

garage sale finds

If you are an artist, and are looking to frame some of your creations, you can save a lot of money getting frames at yard sales.  I found one that was painted beige, and a bit chipped looking, took it home, cleaned it, primed it and painted it jet black and it is an awesome frame.

It may not be a modern style, but once they are cleaned up and painted black or white, or even antiqued, they can look chabby chic or trendy. 

If you want to frame photos, and you see a box full of old style frames, then offer them one price.  Make sure the glass is ok, and then take your finds home. 

For most people, they rush through these events, and don’t think past the surface.  Just like when you sell a house, you need to create a feeling that the customer can envision themselves in, which means, clean, painted, fresh and ready to go.  It is the same for selling products.  You need to market your things in such a way that they look appealing.  Many sellers do not do this, which makes your finds easier and cheaper to get!

garage sale finds
Junk Beautiful, Outdoor Edition
Amazon Price: $21.95 $8.98 Buy Now
(price as of Jan 6, 2016)

You can have many styles of frames, and if you paint them all the same colour, then there will be a theme for your wall, yet each one will be unique.  

Filing Cabinets - Metal Paint Does Wonders!

I got a great deal on a four drawer filing cabinet because the black paint had some rust marks and marks on the top from years of use.  Yes it did have a few little dents, but if you price one of these in an office supply store, they cost hundreds!

I took it home, cleaned it well then used metal paint for sides and front, and a bit of black Mac tack for the top to make it a better surface to sit my printer on.  It turned out awesome.

Don’t forget metal paint can do wonders, to any metal office supplies.  You don’t even have to use them for files, think of these drawers as great storage.

garage sale finds

Office Supplies - Box Them Up and Ask for a Deal

Usually smaller items are in a box of their own, but some garage sellers, like to spread everything over the table.  You might see a pile of paper here and package of pens there.  Ask if you can fill a box with these items and get one low price.

Art supplies – Deals to be found

Same with art supplies, you can get paints, brushes, canvas, paper and more, as some people will attempt a project and then it ends up in the basement.   I found a box full of supplies, the deal was I had to take the whole box for 5 bucks, so I took it home, and discarded things that were worn out, and kept the rest.  I valued it at 80 bucks, so was a great find.

Go later, unless you want to fight with people on the lawn at 7am, see what is left and get the best deals, then take yourself out for lunch.

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