Eight (8) of the Most Popular Items Found at Garage Sales

If you are a newbie to garage sailing, you may not know what to expect.  Just what kind of things can you find at a yard sale?  Truthfully, you can find almost anything at a garage sale.  But for all the beginners, here’s a list of the eight most common items I’ve seen at neighborhood sales.  Think of something I missed?  Leave a comment below!
1. Kid’s clothes
2. Kids toys and miscellany
3. Clothes for women and men
4. Housewares
5. Furniture
6. Knickknacks
7. Specialty/collectibles
8. Food & drinks

1. Kids’ clothes

Kids grow out of clothes so quickly, it can be tricky to keep up.  In order to clear out space and perhaps get a bit of a return on their investment, children’s clothes find a natural place at garage sales.  If you have a little one (or even just shopping for a baby shower), garage sales are the perfect place to pick up entire outfits for mere pennies.

Worth it? → YES

Definitely shop for special event clothes — these can be very pricey brand new.  Clothes for holidays, weddings, and other special events usually have only been worn once or twice at most, and you won’t use them much either.

If your child is going through a growth spurt, garage sales are excellent for finding clothes that will fit them but won’t be too much of an investment.  Also take the opportunity to pick up a few “play” clothes that kids can run around and get dirty in.

2. Kids toys and miscellany

Just like clothes, kids outgrow their toys and other miscellany fairly quickly.  Toys may be worn out or broken, or maybe they were never played with much because they weren’t a favorite toy.  Some toys might be brand new in the box because the child outgrew them before they were opened (perhaps a gift.)  Strollers are another very popular children’s item found at yard sales, usually sold because the child grew up.  If you are an expecting mom or a proud parent, check out your local yard sales for equipment or playthings.

Worth it? → MAYBE

As with anything secondhand, check all items very carefully.  Toys are a toss-up on whether or not they are worth the buy.  Whatever the condition, look it over carefully and always wash it (preferably with a bleach-water solution) before you let your children play with it.  It wouldn’t hurt to wash any other equipment where kids might have drooled, pooped, or otherwise germed-up — highchairs, cribs, etc.

Don’t forget that lead in certain children’s toys has been and continues to be a problem.  Educate yourself on this problem so you can shop the sales more wisely.  LeadSafe.org has some good tips on spotting potential hazards — painted toys, costume jewelry, and certain countries of manufacture.

Use discretion on items that might have safety recalls like cribs or strollers – I hope no one would intentionally try to make a buck on an unsafe item, but they might be ignorant of the danger.  If you have a smartphone, use it to look up the brand & model of any equipment in question.

3. Clothes for women and men

As a fashion blogger, this is certainly my favorite item on the list!  Prices range from anywhere to a quarter to a few dollars, depending on the seller and/or condition of the item.  You will have to learn to judge what sizes and styles will fit you.  Unless you try them on over your own clothes, you won’t be able to try before you buy.  However, the low prices usually justify buying without trying.

Worth it? → YES

As with any used clothing, check carefully for flaws like rips, stains, broken zippers, etc.  And you’ll want to give your purchases a good sturdy wash before you wear them.  Definitely seek out cheap vintage clothing at a yard sale.

4. Housewares

Dishes, kitchen gadgets, and other household items are common flotsam and jetsam that end up at garage sales.  Anything ranging from Grandma’s fine china to everyday pots and pans, garage sales can be a cheap way to stock up on housewares.

Worth it? → MAYBE

It’s all about the quality in this case.  Skip the as-seen-on-TV kitchen gadgets (unless you have room for them in your kitchen!) and opt for more versatile pieces like dishware and pots & pans.  Check the quality of pans – cheap, older, or worn pans may have developed “hot spots” that cook food unevenly.  For nonstick pans, check the Teflon coating to make sure it isn’t scratched.  Run your fingers over glass or ceramic dishware to detect chips.  Whatever you end up buying, run it through a hot cycle in the dishwasher (if the material can stand up to the heat) or clean thoroughly by hand before use.

5. Furniture

If you’re in the market for a new couch or chairs or dining room table, garage sales can be a great resource.  Owners are typically willing to sell for cheap because these larger items are harder to move.  If you are searching for furniture, don’t forget to bring a pick-up truck (or a friend’s) to help you move that merchandise home.

Worth it? → MAYBE

Even if the items are in better condition and a little pricier, they are still well below list price.  Always check for odors (like musty or mildew smells, pet stains, or smoke) before you commit.  If you live in an area with a high bedbug outbreak, be aware that these little creatures (as well as lice or dust mites) might have embedded themselves into the furniture.  It’s wise to consider a deep steam cleaning of any plush furniture, preferably before you get it into your own home.

6. Knickknacks

Cutesy, but usually rather useless, stuff falls into the knickknacks category.  Who knows, one person’s trash might just be your treasure!  And where else but a yard sale can you get that quirky ceramic owl figurine set, or that as-seen-on-TV gem that you just never could afford, or a certified vintage gag gift?  If your taste is quirky and eclectic, garage sales are the only way to go.

Worth it? → YES

After seeing all the fabulous knickknacks at yard sales and thrift shops, I can’t justify buying these sort of things new.

7. Specialty/collectibles

Tending on the pricier side, lots of collectors are willing to hock their collections at a garage sale.  Maybe they need a little cash, or decided they’d rather make space for something else.  Keep an eye out in the newspapers – they tend to list memorabilia in hopes that similarly minded collectors will find their sale.

Worth it? → YES

If you’re looking for that special something to complete your own collection, check out these specialty sections – but know your price range and stick to a budget.  It helps to have a pretty good grasp on what different items are worth in the collectible market, just so you don’t get taken advantage of.  Study up on your area of interest with some price guides and a little internet research.  Find out what the going rates are on a site like eBay.  If you have a smartphone, you can do some quickie internet research right at the sale.  Sometimes it helps to have a list of the things you already own, especially if you have a large inventory of collectibles, so you don’t double up.

8. Food/drinks

Over the years, I’ve seen an increase in the number of people selling sodas, bottled water, lemonade, homemade treats, or even whole meals.  They cater to the tired hungry shopper.  Often these stalls are manned by little kids who want to make some spending money.  Some do it to raise money for a charity or good cause.  Sometimes people just want to make an extra buck and haul out a cooler full of soda at a marked-up price.  For some neighborhoods, food stands that you might see at a fair or carnival set up shop for the day or weekend.

Worth it? → YOU MAKE THE CALL!

I usually prefer to carry my own water & snacks and save more money for shopping, but there’s certainly no harm in patronizing food & drink stands to give to a good cause or make a little kid’s day.

There you have it!

Which items do you see most often at garage sales?  Which items do you buy most?

2 Responses to “Eight (8) of the Most Popular Items Found at Garage Sales”
  1. Crista says:

    Which items do I purchase or shop for most often at garage sales? Definitely housewares and specialty items.

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