Garage Sales: Diamonds in the Rough?

If you're an insatiable bargain-hunter, there's something about garage sales that really gets your heart pumping and your blood boiling. Perhaps it's the possibility of finding an item that you truly need but previously couldn't afford. Or, maybe it's a treasure-hunting adventure that could yield the purchase of a priceless heirloom. If you've ever watched those antique shows on television, you know that invariably someone will have purchased an item for less than $20 and, after having its value appraised, found it to actually be worth thousands. While not a frequent event, the possibility of happening upon such an elusive trinket is nonetheless an exciting thought. Whatever the attraction, garage sales have become one of today's most popular ways to shop. They're also typically more stimulating than flea markets because every garage sale is different, particularly in the items available.

There are, however, a few things about garage sales that you should remember. The first rule of thumb is to arrive early. The best items are usually sold within the first hour or so. You know what they say about the 'early bird.'

Most people planning garage sales post signs on lampposts or take out a small add in the local newspaper. Inevitably, there are days when you can spot several signs indicating upcoming garage sales on a Saturday or Sunday. So, look carefully when you're out and about. And while you're looking, if you happen to notice a phone number included in the sign or ad, give it a ring to find out exactly what they'll be selling. This not only saves time, but also allows you the possibility of looking elsewhere for garage sales that may be offering items you really need.

Remember, too, that you can bargain at garage sales. No matter what the price of an item, the likelihood is that you'll be able to haggle because the owner has a need to get rid of all the merchandise. Garage sales usually offer a variety of goods such as clothing, furniture, books, CDs, DVDs and countless other odds and ends. But, it all depends upon what you need. To buy simply for the sake of buying really doesn't save you any money, so if you're looking for a particular item for your home or personal use, target and bargain for it.

This leads right in to another important 'rule': never take too much cash with you. While many of the items may be tempting, you'll have to exercise a measure of restraint or you'll find yourself having purchased a wagonload full of stuff that you really have no good use for. In other words, guard yourself so you don't turn every garage sale you attend into an open invitation to buy things that will just add more clutter to your home.

Finally, keep in mind that some of the merchandise offered at garage sales may be new, some slightly used, and some completely used up. So, be careful, and keep a critical eye while you're looking for that next $50,000 'hidden gem.'

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