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Bargain Hunting: Finding Garage Sale Steals

Updated on March 10, 2010

Garage Sale Values: Finding Great Deals at Garage Sales


Finding value at garage sales isn't hard. Whether it is antiques, sports collectibles, or other items, there are great deals to be had. Places like garage sales, estate sales, local auctions, and flea markets, are amazing places to find great deals on everything from the mundane and useful like second hand clothes, to finding valuable hidden antiques that can be sold for a very nice profit. The old saying goes that one man's junk is another man's treasure, and a good garage sale is a prime example of that old axiom being true. Garage sales are an amazing place to find great values, but not for everyone. It really depends on what your definition of value is to figure out if there is something at a particular garage sale that is valuable to you or not. Obviously a box full of children's clothing for $5 isn't a value when you're a grown single man, but for a mother of four that box might be nothing short of a godsend. On the other hand, who reads books nowadays? But to the antique book hound a bunch of true first editions of grandma's old Sinclair Lewis books are a steal at a buck a piece.

Garage Sale and Garage Sales Finds Photos

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Trail of the Hawk 1st edition, bought for $3, sold for $300.If you see this paperback for sale for a quarter, you want it.You can find some good fishing gear at some garage sales.Plenty of old books.Less likely to find at sales...unless you've been to a few in Alaska.Ah, the weekend life.A cut off garage sale sign.Flea markets: the communal kings of garage sales.
Trail of the Hawk 1st edition, bought for $3, sold for $300.
Trail of the Hawk 1st edition, bought for $3, sold for $300.
If you see this paperback for sale for a quarter, you want it.
If you see this paperback for sale for a quarter, you want it.
You can find some good fishing gear at some garage sales.
You can find some good fishing gear at some garage sales.
Plenty of old books.
Plenty of old books.
Less likely to find at sales...unless you've been to a few in Alaska.
Less likely to find at sales...unless you've been to a few in Alaska.
Ah, the weekend life.
Ah, the weekend life.
A cut off garage sale sign.
A cut off garage sale sign.
Flea markets: the communal kings of garage sales.
Flea markets: the communal kings of garage sales.

How to Find True Garage Sale Values


This is a big point for anyone who wants to canvas garage sales looking for a great deal. A lot depends on what your definition of value is. The best way to find good deals at garage sales and other similar sales is to not be completely set and focused in on what you want to find. It's always good to have your particular specialty, but when shopping around you need to take advantage. If you're a book hound, that's great, but if you immediately leave a garage sale because there aren't any books, you might not notice that lamp for $10 that looks familiar because it was on antiques road show, those 10 plates you can get for $3 (try finding that at Wal-Mart), or a dozen pairs of blue jeans that fit for $20.

Obviously if you're focusing on things to buy and re-sell then the blue jeans and plates might not matter much, but money you don't spend is also money you save. How stupid is it to pay $20 for a new pair of blue jeans when you can buy three or four pairs (or more) for the same amount from a garage sale. If you're a college student, it's amazing how much stuff you can find for $5-20 that will fill out a dorm room: including desks, dressers, old couches, folding chairs, etc.

If you have an open eye for good deals, you won't go wrong. From saving money, to acquiring nice possessions for far below market value, to the occasional antique treasure you can turn around and sell for a very hefty profit, you just can't go wrong with garage sales.

Garage Sales Finds


Part of being able to find great deals at garage sales, especially if you're looking for potentially valuable items to buy cheap then sell at a much higher price, is teaching yourself what to look for. Not every painting is worth a lot, many old books are worthless (money wise - not in any other way), and just because something is old doesn't mean its valuable, just as something that's new isn't necessarily junk. If you see a bunch of "cheesy" pulp Richard Bachman paperback books from the late 1970s, early 1980s, you'd be an idiot not to pick them up.

But you only know that if you know that Richard Bachman was a penname for Stephen King, and those copies of Rage, The Long Walk, The Running Man, and Roadwork are worth $50-$150 each. And most old paperbacks at garage sales go for chump change.

There's all kind of antique glass, old toys and trinkets (I really wish I had my old G.I. Joe collection from when I was a kid), and even the Atari video game system and games is considered a collectible antique now, and is worth more than it was when it first came out!

The point is, you need to find something that interests you (or if you're like me, learn a lot about a wide array of interests) and keep educating yourself as you go to garage sales and flea markets and really look around to see what kind of deals you can find. Practice makes perfect, and choose something you'll enjoy. It should be a passion and something enjoyable - the money and great buys are just bonus.

Finding Deals at Garage Sales

Expert on How to Find Antiques @ Garage Sales

Antique Video Games?

Garage Sales: Final Thoughts


There are all kinds of antiques in the world, and many of them can be found in various garage sales or other similar things. Many people don't realize the value of what they have. Learning to find value in garage sales can span from getting great deals on items you can actually use for cheap, to finding those rare and valuable antiques that can make you some great cash. There are many deals to be found in most garage sales, and if nothing else just the experience of getting out of the house and seeing some of the neat things collected over the years can be a great and enjoyable way to spend a weekend.

Garage Sale Stories, Finds, Comments, etc.

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    • stanleyreese profile image

      stanleyreese 5 years ago from Alabama

      Good hub! I love garage sales and I have found a way to make (a little) money and also teach family values. Check out my hub.

    • profile image

      Derek 5 years ago

      Cool Story's all i hope to hit up some garage sales etc myself then see if i can resell for more on ebay

    • Jerry G2 profile image

      Jerry G2 6 years ago from Cedar Rapids, IA

      Hi Superhero Sales,

      In general the best way is to find one or two specific topics that you're interested in and then buy books on those two antique topics in order to learn. For me, books have always been a passion so I learned all about antique books while my parents loved glasswork, which led to them learning about Depression glass and Vaseline glass. So think about one or two things that interest you, and go for educational books on those topics. Given enough time studying and just attending these types of events, you will become more and more knowledgeable.

    • brandonakelly profile image

      brandonakelly 6 years ago from Wilmington, NC

      You know, I've never really thought of going around to a garage sale in search of antiques. This is actually a pretty good idea for those who love to shop for cheap items, great hub.

    • kephrira profile image

      kephrira 7 years ago from Birmingham

      nice hub, it's always satisfying to find a bargain. You should tak a look at this social bargain hunting website -

    • Neil Ashworth profile image

      George Poe 7 years ago from United Kingdom

      Nice article, heading back later for another look...

    • MrSpock profile image

      MrSpock 7 years ago

      Hearing stories about bargain successes is quite fun.

    • Jerry G2 profile image

      Jerry G2 7 years ago from Cedar Rapids, IA

      Hi Claudia,

      Great find! I always love hearing stories like that. I'm somewhat of a "junk" fan myself, so if it looks cool, I enjoy it even if it's worth nothing, but sometimes you do get lucky. Glad to hear about that success. I'm sure you won't be missing the flea markets this summer :)

    • profile image

      Claudia R 7 years ago

      A few months ago I spotted this brass mantel clock in great condition for $1.00. I thought that it was in great shape and regardless if it was an antique or not, it's value had to be more than a dollar. My gut feeling was right, I appraised it and it's value is around $1,200. That is amazing!

    • Jerry G2 profile image

      Jerry G2 9 years ago from Cedar Rapids, IA

      Wow, Sarah, that is good luck. I know so much of it is that the deals are out there, but eBay isn't often the best way to go. I've bought books off of eBay, walked to an antique book store and then sold them for triple. My best ever were two Sinclair Lewis books: one $3 purchase that I sold for $300, and a $50 purchase I re-sold for $770. But those are definitely the exceptions. Still, I love garage sales and have gotten plenty of cheap clothes and furniture, so it's definitely worth it. Thanks for the comment!

    • Sarah Guy profile image

      Sarah Guy 9 years ago from San Antonio, TX

      I went through an eBay phase where I was trying to make good money off of garage sale finds. I didn't have much luck except for ONE thing: I bought a box of Mustang magazines and books for $26. It was a nearly 30 year collection, and by breaking it up into lots and selling them on eBay, I made over $1000! Too bad I never had that kind of luck again!