My Trek to Garage Sale Greatness

So some of you may read this post and just roll our eyes.  5 years ago I would have done the same thing. I will be the first to admit, in my younger, child-free years I thought garage sales were a trap to get you to buy someone else’s crap.  Now, raising 3 kids- I have a completely different view.

A garage sale now, isn’t about buying someone else’s junk- its about finding things for my family that are previously owned that we can use…and at a great price. It is the ultimate form of recycling.  I have found clothes for everyone in the family. I’ve found pool toys, baby toys, baseball cards, sandals and my BEST find- a patio set (a glass table, 6 swivel rocking chairs, umbrella and stand for $85!) I have even found a headboard and frame for a girlfriend at work. It’s the thrill of the hunt that I enjoy – along with a little alone OR girl time…its the perfect weekend mini-get-away!

I have a method to my madness…one that my friends laugh at but it seems to work for me. I am not a person who can just drive around, looking for signs in hopes of finding something good.  No. Not me. I’m a list maker by nature, so why not make a list of garage sales to go to? And why not go one step further. Why not put that list in order by date and time – and by route so I do not have to waste time looking over my list and figuring out where to go next? 🙂 Ah yes, the list maker in me has advantages! Plus it helps me avoid high traffic areas and road construction.

I am not one to be up and at my first stop when it opens.  Maybe some weekends when I know I have a lot of stops to make, but most weekends it is a leisurely stroll around town. I enjoy seeing the various neighborhoods in town along with meeting new and interesting people. What always surprises me the most are the marketing tactics people use in their ads.  Some are creative “Four trendy momma’s are selling their stuff!” to “too many items to list, come see for yourself.” Garage sale ads are like movies- you can’t judge them by their tag line.  Its a 50/50 shot the sale has something worth stopping for.  I will admit- I am not afraid to do a “drive-by”. If I can’t see anything that interests me when I do my first pass, I will keep going.

I have had my share of “browsers remorse”- you drive up- things look promising – only to get up to the garage and see what you thought looked good is just a pile of leftover house project pieces and old lady clothing. I still do a quick once around the room – say “thank you” and leave.

The other surprise to me are some of the things people will try to sell.  Sorry folks, I won’t buy socks, underwear or bras at garage sales (new or used). That is just too creepy. I also won’t buy stuff that is stained or beat up beyond belief.  Yet each week I find a table of stuff like that. On the other end of that spectrum are the clothes that have never been worn and still have the tags on them! A brand new shirt for my 17 year old daughter, with the tags on it (originally $25) for $2, why yes, I think I will. I look at that purchase as an early back-to-school purchase. Anything I can find over the summer that will fit the kids for school in the coming year or two, is money well spent. Typically I will not buy used shoes, however I was able to find two pairs of sandals for my 15 year old son 2 years ago- each $1 – and they were the leather type so I know they will be harder to destroy. I know the kid is hard on stuff, so I’m not paying full price for shoes he will only wear for 3 months.

Oh and don’t just bypass that free bin.  I can’t tell you how many times I have found ripped jeans I can use as patch material.

Ah – jeans.  Every week I see piles upon piles of jeans and think- wouldn’t it be nice to find a pair that would fit me or the kids. But any woman knows how hard it is to find jeans…or pants of any kind. Until now. Thanks to my mother in law I have a strategy that works! Before I leave the house I take measurements of each child’s pants; waist and inseam. I take the measuring tape with me and as I find pants I simply measure them. If the numbers match or are on the big size – they go home with me. Yeah!! People look at me like I am on the crazy side when I pull out my measuring tape but after they watch the process, more often than not, I hear “why didn’t I think of that?”

The weather is starting to change and the itch to get out and find new treasures for my family is starting to take over.  I am excited to be able to get out for some quality garage sale shopping this year. Using the tricks above means I spend less time driving around aimlessly and more time finding exactly what I need.  Good luck and may this Sticky Note Life hack help you in your trek to garage sale greatness!

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