Ask the Readers: To Garage Sale or Not? (Chance to win $20)

By Linsey Knerl on 18 May 2010 122 comments
Photo: besighyawn

**Congrats to our winners! **

  • Kate - I think they can be really fun. And, I really appreciate the idea of recycling old items rather than just throwing things away. But it's true that I do sometimes walk away with things that I bought on impulse and never use again.  I try to find ones that are in my neighborhood and use each sale as a stop to break up a long walk and motivate me to keep going. It also keeps me from buying things that are too large for my small apartment.
  • @dopeymouse05  I'm all about garage sales. I found a great shoe rack for $5, so now our shoes are off the floor, and it's really nice!    

It's that time of year again! Garage sales (or yard sales) are booming, giving families and chance to clear out their clutter, earn some extra cash, and provide some low-cost goods to the rest of the community. But is this tradition dangerous for some? Do those yard sale junkies actually end up bringing home "junk" that they don't need? Is impulse-buying guaranteed? Or is it all in good fun, and a great way to find exactly what you're looking for at a price that fits your super-tight budget?

We want to know what you think of garage sales. Do you hold them? Shop them? Avoid them like a flu? Give us your honest experiences and opinions, and you'll be entered to win one of two $20 Amazon gift cards!

Feel free to link to a blog post, if you're written on this topic! We'll include it in our post upon the conclusion of our giveaway!

Win one of two $20 Amazon gift cards:

We're doing two giveaways — one for random comments, and another one for random tweets.

How to Enter:

  1. Post your answer in the comments below, or
  2. Tweet your answer. Include both "@wisebread" and "#WBAsk" in your tweet so we'll see it and count it.

If you're inspired to write a whole blog post OR you have a photo on flickr to share, please link to it in the comments or tweet it.

Giveaway Rules:

  • Contest ends Monday, May 24th at 11:59 pm CST. Winners will be announced after May 24th on the original post and via Twitter. Winners will also be contacted via email and Twitter Direct Message.
  • You can enter both drawings — once by leaving a comment and once by tweeting.
  • Only tweets that contain both "@wisebread" and "#WBAsk" will be entered. (Otherwise, we won't see it.)

Good luck!

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Guest's picture

I think garage sales are great if you are in need of a specific item. Where the danger lies is if you go to window shop and find and bring home too many unneeded treasures. I would say if you don't have a must have item on your list. Don't go.

I've been trying to simplify our life so find most of what I need to get rid of is clothing. Clothing swaps are becoming popular with parents. Or you can always donate clothing items and get receipts for tax purposes.

Guest's picture

I don't generally spend a lot of time at garage sales; it's generally when I need something specific and common (like Tupperware or kids jeans) that I'll start hunting through them on my weekends at random. I do, however, keep an eye on the ads for those oddball things that are always on my "acquire when price is right" list - like last weekend: http://www.denofchaos.com/2010/05/passing-batons.html.

Guest's picture
KelR1

I have held and shopped at garage sales. I think they're great for getting rid of stuff you don't need/want and making some extra money. When done right they can be a very nice way to shop (if everything is clean and well organized and fairly priced). In fact, I'm considering holding another sale this summer or fall!

Guest's picture
kimberly

I do, but I try to keep it to a minimum because I find I end up buying unnecessary stuff!!

Guest's picture
Dan

I had this going for me and contemplated the same thing... i did it.. had a VERY successful yard sale last weekend!
My biggest reason is that we downsized when my wifes job moved us and we still had "junk" plus, also between mywife and I we have lost a total of 110lbs and had alot of extra clothes...

plus two children under 5... means lots of senseless toys, clothes...

we made our money, and purged items... and afterwards, donated the rest to the church

Guest's picture

oh am i a dummy! I wanted to join in on the tweetchat this afternoon...was all ready to go and then realized that you are on a different time zone than me. I missed it...blahhhh!

That's me- a day late & a dollar short. Anyway:

having garage sales--absolutely
shop them--occasionally
avoid them like the flu--as much as possible

I have a tendency to go a little over-board when i see something being sold for 'pennies on the dollar'...(hence the reason I need to HAVE garage sales). So i figure what i don't know can't hurt me. I have learned to stay away. Every once in awhile they will get me though. I will be driving down the road and they will put that ONE item out there, you know at the END of the driveway so that i can see it from a mile down the road. Then if i can't control myself, i stop.

I remedy this by just driving down the road with both eyes closed. Great for me, but not too good for the other drivers, if you know what i mean.

Guest's picture
Yolanda Cooper

I think some garage sales are a waste of time and energy. I shop them and sometimes I avoid them. Most of the items are overpriced and it's disappointing when the seller is not willing to come down with price on "junk" or no longer wanted items. I have shopped sales but it is rare when I find it worthwhile. I always thought the concept behind a garage sale was to get rid of stuff. If no buys the item then the person is still stuck with it so why would a person overprice items and not be willing to negotiate ESPECIALLY the last day of the sell. Mind bogglin.

I once shopped a sale and there was a "used" comforter and the seller wanted $35 bucks for it. I tried to get her to come down on the price explaining I would have to have it drycleaned. I tried to get her to bring the price down to $25-$20 but she would not budge.

Again, my question is aren't we trying to get rid of "stuff". So again I shop them and sometimes I avoid them.

Submitted by Yolanda

Guest's picture
Tyg

I love garage sales, especially ones with children's books. That being said, I loathe how people advertise that their sale is huge or that they have tons of stuff and when you get there (right as they open) you find a bunch of clothes from the 1970's and a stained couch as the only things for sale.

Guest's picture
Jenny

I only go to garage sales when I know what I am shopping for. Last time, it was for a bookcase and a vacuum cleaner. Since I usually work on Saturday mornings, I don't get to the sales until later in the day when they are packing up. Lucky for us, my husband found the bookcase he wanted and since the people just wanted it gone, we got it for $2! Then those same people gave us a broken, but repairable, vacuum cleaner for free because they could not sell it! I was totally stoked because I happen to fix these pretty well.

Guest's picture
Lynn

Yes, I'm a garage sale planner. Along with a good friend/neighbor family, we host twice annual garage sales. The first one is always in April and the second is always in September.

For the past five years we have been doing this. Now it's habitual with our entire family. When we know we can get rid of something, I price it before we put it into the garage sale storage area (our basement).

When you have kids, it's a great way to transfer ownership of gently used baby gear, clothing, books and toys. It also helps reinforce the Reuse, Recycle and Renew lessons our kids are learning in school. Plus, we feel better that we aren't adding old stuff to any land fills.

Guest's picture
estella miller

Garage sales can be really fun! And what better way to recycle all that "stuff"?

Guest's picture
Danielle P

I love to host garage sales.. They are a great way to make money and get rid of things that are filling up your home.. I also love to shop at garage sales.. I wanted the game Taboo but not willing to pay the 30 at Walmart. Got the complete game for 1 at a yardsale. Was thrilled

Guest's picture
Nicole

Love garage sales, yard sales, tag sales, rummage sales. I've gotten some great stuff at them, and I'm usually able to resist buying excess junk -- or at least talking the seller down, so it's not a huge waste if I end up donating them item sooner rather than later.

My husband and I spent many, many Saturday mornings driving around yard sale-ing when we were first courting. We still enjoy it, especially when we don't have kids in tow. It's a pretty cheap form of entertainment, and you never know what you might find!

Guest's picture
Nicole

Love garage sales, yard sales, tag sales, rummage sales. I've gotten some great stuff at them, and I'm usually able to resist buying excess junk -- or at least talking the seller down, so it's not a huge waste if I end up donating them item sooner rather than later.

My husband and I spent many, many Saturday mornings driving around yard sale-ing when we were first courting. We still enjoy it, especially when we don't have kids in tow. It's a pretty cheap form of entertainment, and you never know what you might find!

Guest's picture
Travis

I am addicted to them (Thanks to my late grandmother). I am out am 7:00 am everything Saturday morning searching for a bargin.

Guest's picture
Audrey H.

No I don't hold garage sales, I have gone to sell at the flea market though. I much prefer something like craigslist, I don't like having strangers come to my home, prefer to sell items at a well populated locale. Have even sold small items this way, arrange multiple sales around the same time, etc

Guest's picture

I've never been to a garage sale as a shopper, but I've hosted a few in my attempt to declutter my life! This past weekend I helped my twin sister with a garage sale that her HOA was hosting and we walked away with over $300!!! We sold one item for $5 (a set of glassware) and one for $10 (a wooden chest) and everything else was either $1 or $2. We couldn't believe how much money we made...it was definitely worth it. Plus, we made a lot of people happy because they got some amazing deals and at the end of the sale we donated everything we had leftover.

Guest's picture
Ginny

Hi,
I enjoy the attending somewhat more than holding a yard sale (but the extra cash is welcome). Where else could one find a key holder wall plaque with my husband's last name but at a yard sale. The sellers had no clue about the source of it, but husband's grandmother and grandfather lived in that neighborhood decades ago. I wrote on the topic at ginnymagers.wordpress.com. about ways to not drive away customers.
Thanks,

Guest's picture

Just the thought that it cost you to buy certain things, makes it worthy that is why I think engaging on a garage sale is just something to pertain a return in the costs that you incurred in having those things. Its a very productive idea that provides a valuable sense for your things.l Afterall, it has been a very ecological way of transforming your wastes into a profitable activity.

Guest's picture
aylaeh

i enjoy going to garage sales but i do only buy things that i absolutely need and will use. some deals that i have got at garage sales in the past:
a fully lined leather bomber coat - $10
a brand new tupperware picnic set - $10
two lands end suitcases - $20 ($10 each)

Guest's picture
Guest

If you are making a lot of money at yard sales, that almost certainly means you are losing a lot. It means you likely bought all this stuff retail, and are now selling it for a loss. Thrifty people tend to turn over very little stuff, and so do not make money holding yard sales. Hopefully, though, if you hold a yard sale you are selling things you bought at yard sales, so got to own that item free for a while.

The type of sale you attend makes all the difference. If you want baby stuff, go to neighborhoods with kids. As a rule, I find the more upscale the neighborhood, the more people want for their stuff. Interestingly people in poorer neighborhoods tend to sell stuff cheaper. Upscale people tend to sell stuff they bought new within the last decade. Low-income people do sell more junk overall, but are more likely to have vintage items that they will sell for cheap.

The idea of shopping only with a list, in a way, sets you up for failure, as it can be really difficult to find those exact items. But there are always things you weren't looking for, but would be nice to own, such as a nice coffee table book.

I am an emptynester, but do shop with my married daughter as a way just to spend time with her. I also have asked my other grown children if they are looking for certain things, and shop for them.

Even though I don't "need" anything, I do buy quilt scraps, interesting books, fun looking puzzles, vintage picture frames and other vintage items. I am restocking my "grandma house," meaning I am looking for things for future grand kids when they come to visit. This includes the usual books and toys, but also interesting cool grown up stuff that will just make my house more interesting to a child. I also buy items that would make great gifts. I buy replacement small appliances (such as blenders) to save for when my current one dies. My husband tends to buy tools. Though I make quilts, I could not resist two pieced comforters for $4 each... they are nice enough that I consider them to be guest worthy. I have no problem not buying, so I have no clutter issues. I am a careful buyer.

So for yard sales to be worthwhile, you either need a lot, or you are shopping for other people who need a lot.

Guest's picture
Eric

We had one today and it was a blast! We are moving, and spent a lot more time talking to our neighbors in one day than the two years we've been here! Of course they got the 50% neighbor sale. Also, the kids of the parents at our garage sales started playing soccer on our lawn with our 3 year old. So their parents bought more stuff (we made $500 in the end so we're pretty happy with that!). It was my first garage sale and I would definitely would do it again and now know what seems to sell well (toys, clothes, coloring books, gardening stuff). I would even go and check them out now that I know the deals you can get.