June 21, 2017

Summertime and the livin' is easy for garage sale fans.

This season always ushers in a buffet of garage sales in communities across the world, as pack-rats and C-grade hoarders get rid of the clutter and old goodies lying around the house.

But as we know, one person's trash is another's treasure.

In this post, you'll learn how to find those hidden gems at garage sales, and tips to help you get the most out of your garage-sale visits.

First, do your research. Look around your community for posters on utility poles, shop windows, bus shelters. With the rise of sites like Craiglist, you'll want to go online to see where garage sales might be promoted. Keep a handy list on your smartphone's Notes app to track the date, time and address of garage sales on a given weekend.

Get Googling too. A quick search of "Toronto" + "garage sales" + "June 2017" yielded 265,000 results, with Craigslist's posts leading the pack.

Second, rise and grind! Garage sales typically start early at around 8 a.m., and you'll want to be one of the first to survey the items on hand. Just don't arrive before the scheduled start time, because that type of early-birdiness can upset sellers.

There's also the argument that you can haggle best near the end of a garage sale's schedule since sellers might be more desperate to unload stuff they couldn't sell in the past 24 hours. Then again, the offerings might be paltry compared to that 8 a.m. time slot.

Third, make agameplan of want you want to buy. Are you a jewellery nut? More of a toy collectibles kind of buyer? Looking to flip some really old coins? Prioritize a few areas that are of particular interest in your garage-sale adventures. That way, your laser-focus will keep you moving quickly through garage sales within a few hours, as opposed to wandering aimlessly on someone's lawn, eyeing dishes or clothes you don't need.

Fourth, research the items you like. Always have handy a smartphone or iPad with enough data to help you look up similar finds online. But be warned of comparing apples to pineapples. According to the book The Garage Sale Millionnaire: "For example if you found an original Star Wars Kenner Darth Vader action figure in near mind condition from the 1970s at a neighbourhood garage sale and it was being sold on eBay for $2,495, make sure the action figure at the garage sale matches the eBay listing exactly. You would hate to find out when you got home that $375 cash you just spent on what you thought was valued at about $2500 ended up being a Star Wars ROTJ Darth Vader figure MOC KENNER action figure from 1983 valued on eBay at only $55."

It isn't easy at first blush to find those hidden gems in garage sales. You need that essential blend of a keen eye for rarities/unusual collectibles and a gut instinct for what might fetch a decent return. Seek mint-condition items, ideally, and look for old jewellery or coins that seem distinct. Be on the lookout for gold items, which can be appraised by experts such as Muzeum's Toronto gold dealers

Fifth, haggle smartly but politely. We think etiquette goes a long way to polishing that first impression. Garage sales attract all kinds of people, such as the extremely pushy and rude buyer who interrupts the sale host, drops items without apologizing, and argues over the price without budging. It's best to start negotiations about price with a touch of politeness. Rather than "I'll give you X," try a more respectful "Will you take Y?"

Recognize that the listed price is negotiable, and you can even try for a third of the listed number. Haggle with some knowledge of the condition of the goods, too. If you notice a piece of gold jewellery looks tarnished, mention that in the discussion. If you buy more than one item, find out if you can get a group-sale discount.

Finally, bring small bills. If you've ever hosted a garage sale you know the frustration of selling a $2 item to someone who only flaunts $50s. Be the easy-going customer at a sale and bring some coins, some $5s, a few $10s and $20s. 

Now that you are armed with useful tips on getting the most value of your garage-sale trips, go out there and hunt for those unique finds!

And if you're looking to get yourgarage-sale haul appraised by our specialists, whocan in turn give you money for your purchases, get in touch with us.

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