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How To Find Treasure At Rummage Sales, Thrift Shops And Tag Sales

Updated on November 21, 2012

Some Of My Best Finds Ever!

Rummage sale as part of Bunka No Hi, annual Japanese Culture Day at Seattle's Nihon Go Gakko / Japanese Cultural & Community Center.
Rummage sale as part of Bunka No Hi, annual Japanese Culture Day at Seattle's Nihon Go Gakko / Japanese Cultural & Community Center. | Source
The Community Closet Thrift Store
The Community Closet Thrift Store | Source

I absolutely love church rummage sales. They are total paradise if you are a picker or if you just enjoy looking through tons of cool stuff. Rummage sales are the best because the prices are always so low, and there is always so much stuff! You can find almost anything at this type of sale, but there are some very important things to consider if you want to have optimum success at them. In this hub I will discuss a few helpful tips that I have learned from my experience that you should consider next time you go out hunting!

1) I think this is my most important tip. When in doubt, grab it and hold onto it. Actually, if you even think it is at all interesting, just grab it. With so many items, and so many people, you simply don't have time to think about each item or look it up to see if it is something you should buy. When I go to these sales or any place with lots of stuff, I just grab the item and hold onto it. You don't have to purchase it, but you can "reserve" it. I don't even want to think about how many times I have set an item down and thought maybe I would come back to it only to find someone else holding it! Remember, you don't have to buy the item yet, just hold onto it for now. With so many items up for grabs, you need to quickly get as many items as possible!

2) Go with a friend or two if at all possible. My first tip works much better when you have someone else to help you. You can hold onto more things at once, and if you are really there to do a lot of buying, you can do what I do. I almost always go with my girlfriend and we take turns watching our "pile" of finds. This way my hands are free and my pile is still protected. These two first tips are the most important by far if you plan to get a lot of items when you go to rummage sales. If you try to go alone to these sales, then good luck, because people will be taking stuff from your pile before you even see them looking at it.

3) Make sure you are well rested so that you can concentrate! I find that when I am not well rested I often miss things that I should have seen. Again, having a friend helps to prevent this as well, but ultimately you don't want to miss an item that you should have seen because you were too groggy or too hyper from caffeine! Get a strong meal and prepare to concentrate. You are bound to come across a lot of junk that can be distracting. It takes a lot of concentration to find the needle in the haystack.

4) Bring a jeweler's loop and magnet as well as any other tools that you may need. Sometimes you may come across some reasonably priced jewelry. You can't always trust the markings on them even if they are there. Sometimes it's tough to read small markings on watches and other jewelry. Don't miss out on that big score because you can't see all of the details!


5) Charge all of your electronic devices before you head out! This is so important if you plan to scan media or look up completed listings on Ebay. I generally keep my Iphone on the lowest lighted setting anyway to preserve the battery, but it is a no brainer to charge your electronics before you get to the sale. I always plug in my Iphone the night before just to be sure it is 100% when I leave the house and you should too. You don't want the battery to die on you halfway through your journey!

Books are very easy to find at rummage sales and are very profitable.
Books are very easy to find at rummage sales and are very profitable. | Source

6) Check all items thoroughly for flaws. It can be quite a frenzy, and after you have built up a nice pile of items that you want, then comes the time to double check and inspect each item to be sure it is as it seems. Don't check the items right when you find them, but do this at the end. This includes checking over all cords and buttons as well as battery packs, or any pieces that could be missing. If the item is in the box then you should open it and look inside. Even though I try to be mindful of this, I have brought back items that I regret the next day. Nobody is perfect, but you should remember to do this before you checkout.


7) Bringing bags, baskets, and containers can be risky. I try not to bring a bag for my items, as many sale volunteers frown upon this. It looks suspicious and you are probably just asking for trouble. I would say that if you must have a container or bag of some sort, then a small hand held basket would be good. Remember though, if you aren't holding the item in your hand, then the items are ripe for picking from a dishonest attendee of the sale. I have literally had people take things out of my cart at goodwill and salvation army because I have not kept a close enough eye on it

8) Get there early! A lot of rummage sales are continuous in that new items are brought out throughout the day, or weekend. Still, your best chance to get the best items is to get there early. Also important is to stay late or if you live nearby, come back near the end of the day. The best finds I have ever found at any sale, goodwill, or salvation army has been found when an employee or volunteer just brought it out. I am always on the lookout for someone bringing out new stuff and will follow them until they drop the item so I can inspect it for value. Most pickers will be there early, and less of them will be there late. Ideally, if you are really serious, you could stay there all day. I have stayed all day sometimes, but It depends on if you have other locations planned for hunting that day.

I Have Done Very Well With Old Books

I have found some killer scored with old books. You can get them for so cheap. Always check the book section!
I have found some killer scored with old books. You can get them for so cheap. Always check the book section! | Source

Old Comics Sell Very Well

Old comic books sell well, but you should focus on the ones from the 60's or before. Ideally you want the ones from the 50's or before. Quality is key though, don't buy beat up comics unless they are the first few years!
Old comic books sell well, but you should focus on the ones from the 60's or before. Ideally you want the ones from the 50's or before. Quality is key though, don't buy beat up comics unless they are the first few years! | Source

9) Check all parts of the sale. Sometimes you can find items that are not where you would expect them to be. I have found some very nice items before in the clothing section, when they should have been in the sports section. You never know what you will find underneath or behind something. Always search every spot high and low. Sometimes people will even hide things for later! Another thing to remember about this is, you might not be a book person, but you could find a very old, special, antique book. It doesn't take much knowledge of books to determine that a leather bound book from the 1700's for $1 could be worth a lot of money. You should always check even the VHS section. As I have mentioned in other hubs, you can make a lot of money selling VHS Tapes. Another reason to check VHS tapes is that often times you can find DVD Sets mixed in by accident. I once found a Donald Trump DVD boxed set worth $50 for only $1 because of this. I hope you found these tips useful. Good luck at your rummage sales!

I hope you enjoyed this hub! If you liked it would you subscribe for more? Do you love treasure hunting, selling on Ebay, or just learning about cool vintage stuff? Check out my youtube channel for tons of videos about my adventures and hauls as well as tips, tricks, and countless bits of information!

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    • howardyoung profile image

      Howard Young 5 years ago from California

      Great iinfo! One trick I use is to rub my hand over the edges over collectibles to check for chips and cracks that are not easy see.

    • PickingProfits profile image
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      PickingProfits 5 years ago

      I do that as well and have yet to cut myself surprisingly! It's tough sometimes to pass on a beautiful item that is damaged though :(

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