3. Have small bills and change ready
While most sellers are prepared with ones and fives to make change, some forget. And if you’re one of their first customers, they may not have enough change to sell you, say, a 25 cent book and make change for a $20. I set aside ones, fives, and even quarters throughout the week so I’ll have them ready for the weekend.
4. Get up early
It pays to show up right on time or even a few minutes early – and at most garage sales, that means an official 7 a.m. start, with the serious buyers milling about 15 to 20 minutes before that. If you’re looking for something specific and in short supply, like furniture, you can bet someone else is looking for the same thing, so the key is to beat them to it.
5. Scout the sale
If you have several garage sales on your list for the day, don’t feel like you need to stop at each one. You’ll save time if you drive by each sale and do a quick check of the inventory. If you don’t see what you’re looking for, just keep going. Odds are you won’t miss anything, and you’ll have more time to spend at a better sale.
6. Take your time
If you do find a great garage sale, take your time. I have a bad habit of rushing, so I can hit all the garage sales on my list. But I’ve missed out on hidden deals that way. Last weekend, I decided to change that and spent almost half an hour at my neighbor’s garage sale. I bought vintage salt-and-pepper shakers for $25 that were in a box stashed under a table. I never would have found those racing down the driveway.
7. Know what it's worth
Garage sellers love to say, “Make me an offer” for one reason – most people come back with an offer well above what the seller actually wanted. And before you know it, the seller made money and you lost yours.
According to MSNBC – which wrote about hosting garage sales – most items sell for 12 to 15 percent of their original value. That’s a fair price. So as a buyer, if I find an item that isn’t marked or the seller wants to haggle, I aim to pay no more than 15 percent of what I think it cost new.