Learn to buy and sell antiques and collectibles

Shopping For eBay Products At Garage Sales.

A lot of people start selling on eBay by selling unwanted things from their homes. After a few weeks, months, or even years if you are a pack rat, you start going out and looking for stuff to sell.

Shopping at garage sales, yard sales, estate sales, and rummage sales is a logical next step. Thrift stores are also a natural place to look for bargains, but I am going to concentrate on the tag sales in this issue.

Garage Sale Shopping Tips:

  1. Go out often. This is a numbers game. If you rarely shop at garage sales, you'll rarely find goodies. The more sales you attend the higher your chances of finding something interesting.
  2. Go out early. You are competing with hundreds or thousands of other people for the same items. Remember the saying - the early bird gets the worm.
  3. Hit as many garage sales as you can. Don't waste time on worthless sales. As soon as you learn there is no reason to stay, head for the next sale. See rule five for quick ways to find out if there are hidden items.
  4. Take cash. You'll need small bills. Lots of them. A good bank roll is 20 ones, 10 fives, and 5 tens. The rest of your roll can be twenties and fifties. You do not want to lose a deal because the seller cannot make change, and you don't want to be slowed down while the seller fumbles for change. You want to pay and leave for the next garage sale.
  5. Always ask for additional items. I shop mostly for trains and toys. It's not unusual for someone having a garage sale to have a train that is not out. Maybe they weren't considering selling it? Maybe they forgot it was in the attic? Asking reminds them, and will occasionally bring great results.
  6. Take a notebook and pen or pencil. Don't leave it in the car, carry it with you. I rarely see people doing this.

    Your notebook has four purposes:
    1. Take notes when a seller refuses your offer. Many sellers will say, "If I don't sell it today, come back tomorrow and I'll take your offer." Get the seller's telephone number so you can call.
    2. When you ask for additional items, the seller may say he has one but cannot get it out. Also, other shoppers might have what you want. Get telephone numbers. This is important. Getting a telephone number allows you to follow up. Handing out a business card gives you no ability to follow up. Cards are for networking, not buying.
    3. Speaking of networking, when you are asking the seller for items, there will be other shoppers around. Some will be asking for items too. If you overhear someone asking for something interesting get a telephone number. Tell the shopper you want to hit more sales while it's still early, but you'd like to talk to them some more. When you get a larger number of these numbers, keep them in your garage sale notebook. This way when you are at a sale and see something they might be interested in, you can call them on the phone for advice.
    4. Your notebook is for taking notes. When you see something at a garage sale and think it might be worth buying, but aren't sure , write a simple description in your book. Later you can do some research and find out if you passed on something good. If you also get the sellers telephone number, you can call her if you discover it was something good, and see if she still has it.
  7. Leave the Corvette and designer clothes at home. You want to look like a clean, polite, acceptable, middle class person. Fancy clothes and expensive cars will hurt you when you negotiate. Dirty clothes will also close doors. If you look like a bum, you will be treated like a bum.
  8. Don't be afraid to make an offer. A lot of sellers price things so they can haggle. A great garage sale shopping tip is to group things. I like to buy full boxes of stuff.
  9. Don't haggle if the price is right. I once walked up to a garage sale with a fantastic box of trains. The stuff was priced at about 10% of it's value. There was another gentleman there trying to talk the seller down farther. The seller said, "If I can't get a hundred dollars for them, I'll keep them." The haggler put the box down and stepped back. At that point I picked up the box and handed the seller a crisp hundred and said thanks.
  10. Read the last garage sale tip again. There is a second lesson there. Sure the haggler was greedy or maybe he didn't have the money, but I didn't interrupt or step in until the haggler stepped back. This is important. It's about manners and ethics. There is no faster way to get a bad reputation than taking things away from others.
  11. Grab it and hold it. While I will never take something from someone else, and you shouldn't either, other garage sale shoppers will. As soon as you see something you want, grab it, and do not let go until you are done shopping and are paying the seller.
  12. If you buy something you cannot fit into your vehicle, take important parts of it with you. This will prevent others from buying the item before you can get back. Every now and then I buy train layouts. I take everything except the board and the track with me when I go to get a truck the board will fit in. I've seen people take the cushions off couches, the drawers out of dressers, and the leaves and chairs from a table.
  13. As a side note here - make sure you get the full address and telephone number of the seller so you can find the house when you come back. The house will look quite different without the garage sales items in the front yard and may be difficult to find.

  14. If in doubt, buy it. When you see something that might be profitable, but have doubts, buy it. While I rarely regret making purchases, I do regret walking away from items. Set a limit on how much you are willing to risk, and spend up to it.

Well, that is thirteen tips for garage sale shopping.

Now all you need is a bit of knowledge about what to buy. Using your notebook, and researching things you passed up on eBay afterwards will help you spot items in the future.

Robbin Tungett's "The eBay Seller's Guide to Finding Profitable Hidden Bargains at Garage Sales"will help you. The book has lists of things to look for.

In fact, I recommend printing it out and reading it through a few times. The book is perfect for reading over during your morning coffee before heading out to the sales. Even better print it out, and put it in your car. Add to the lists as you find other things, and use it for a reference.

In fact, I liked the book so much, I've made special arrangements to get you a lower priced copy, and packaged it with an interview I did that explains even more of the garage sale buying techniques that I've learned over the past 36 years.

A few more notes on "The eBay Seller's Guide to Finding Profitable Hidden Bargains at Garage Sales". I think the title narrows it down a bit. This is must have information for yard sales, church rummage sales, estate sales, flea markets, thrift stores, and even a trip around the neighborhood on trash day.

It will surely help you spot things worth buying.

Get your copy of "The eBay Seller's Guide to Finding Profitable Hidden Bargains at Garage Sales" here.

Terry

PS While you are out and about, you'll surely run into reproductions and fakes. You can learn how to spot fakes at:
Spot Fakes, Frauds, & Forgeries FAST

PPS Check out my techniques for getting into estate sales early.

PPPS For information about finding the best garage sales, see my article on Finding Killer Yard Sales.


Many of the articles and free reports here on IWantCollectibles were originally sent to readers of my Antiques and eBay Newsletter. Not all articles make it onto the website, and readers also get notices of free reports and special offers.

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