Garage Sale Savvy


Recently, I learned the value in the art of “garage saleing”. Growing up, my neighborhood had a huge sale every summer, spanning a weekend, where nearly every house would have a garage sale. When our sale wasn’t busy my mom would give us a few dollars and let us run off with the neighborhood kids, reminding us, “ Now don’t buy more junk!” So what did I do? I bought junk, of course. As an adult, moving into my first apartment with little bathroom or kitchen gear, or furniture, and being the stereotypical poor college student, I needed things quick and cheap. Where else to turn but the newspaper and garage sales of course!Unknown

Garage sales are notoriously full of junk, other people’s junk at that, but when applying determination and an artistic eye, that rather beat up table could be transformed into the piece that ties your living room together! Here is what I’ve learned, as well as some Deranek family tips to help you to be garage sale savvy!

  1. Research: Look up sales in the newspaper or online and pick out a few that list things that you could use. This is a great stating point, pick just a couple you definitely want to hit and write down the address with the items you definitely want to check out!
  2. Bring a buddy: You never know what you could miss, especially looking for specific items, if you’re too focused you can easily overlook that great lamp or a beautiful plate set you needed.
  3. Drive-by: Some garage sales are just junk, or are selling things out of your range of need. Do not feel the need to stop and spend 20 minutes looking through things just in case you might find something! If it doesn’t look good from the road chances are you aren’t going to find anything.
  4. Don’t By Junk: If you are unsure about an item, pass on it. Garage sales are all about timing, wasting five minutes debating on an item could mean missing the perfect thing at the next sale. On the other hand when something knocks your socks off do not hesitate! If you do someone else could snatch it up.
  5. It’s used, barter! Do not overpay for things, and do not be afraid to negotiate the price down. Some people mark things a little higher than they are willing to take, stand your ground, but make sure you’re offering a fair price. Look up prices of things before hand (or, use a smartphone to Google them at the sale) especially higher priced items. This will help ensure you’re getting a fair price!
  6. Go to sales you did not look up: Driving around and following signs is a great way to find sales, be open to the idea of getting a little lost as you look for things! Another great way to find sales near where you are is this site:
  7. Tell your family and friends: Let others know what you’re looking for! I spread the word that I was looking for certain things and my aunts sent me pictures, prices, and addresses! I found some of my favorite things this way!
  8. Get creative: That table I mentioned? My cousin stripped it down and re-stained it, making it a perfect addition to her new place. Pinterest has amazing DIY ideas that pair perfectly with your garage sale finds. Now your purchase is uniquely yours, and like new!

I hope that as you finish up the summer and garage sale season that these tips come in handy! Keep in mind that  overall you have to be open! Some days bring great finds and others nothing, but don’t give up! Use these tips to help and share your great deals, perfect finds, and finished products here or by tweeting them @TheSmartGirlsGroup!


Chloe Deranek

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Chloe Deranek

Chloe Deranek is a senior nursing major at Saint Mary's College in Notre Dame IN. Her favorite things include reading, laughing, and tea, "A lot can happen in a Year"