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Garage Sale Tips: How To Find (And Negotiate) Amazing Deals

For some, the start of warm weather means getting ready for yard work, swimming, and vacations. But for bargain hunters, it’s time to scope out neighborhoods and classified ads for this weekend’s treasure hunt. That’s right – it’s garage sale season.

As families clear out their homes in the name of spring cleaning, unwanted items undoubtedly find their way for sale. And if one person’s trash is another person’s treasure, then odds are that you can take home something that interests you at a deep discount.

Garage and yard sales can feature everything from clutter to collectibles. Check out these tips to help you score big and avoid buyer’s remorse.


  • Find the sales. Before you head out, check local listings to find sales near you. You can use multiple online sources including Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, Nextdoor, and your local newspaper’s website. This can help you find individual listings and estate sales, as well as large neighborhood garage sales.
  • Have a plan. Are you a collector or a bargain hunter? Knowing the difference will impact your garage sale strategy. Collectors find it better to hit sales in the morning so they can find valuable items before other buyers. Bargain hunters, on the other hand, will go later in the day when sellers are more motivated to get rid of things.
  • Bring cash and prepare to negotiate. Most sellers won’t take credit cards, so cash is still king at garage sales. It also gives you the ability to budget what you’re willing to spend before you leave the house. Carry small bills so you have the correct change and don’t be afraid to offer less than the ticket price. If a seller is unwilling to budge, try other tactics like bundling items together to get the most bang for your buck.
  • Do your research. Knowing what you want to buy is one thing. But knowing what you should pay for it is the sign of a skilled garage sale shopper. When you see a big-ticket item, check online sites like eBay to get an idea of what it’s worth. This will let you know if you’re getting a good deal or if it’s time to walk away.
  • Shop smart. Garage sales are a great place to find gifts and seasonal items you could use later in the year. Larger fitness and outdoor items like fishing tackle, free weights, and camping gear frequently pop up at yard sales. Just be sure that whatever equipment you buy is both safe and functional.Related: Must-Read Storage Tips for Outdoor and Camping Gear
  • Avoid certain items. Some items are often considered unsafe or unsanitary to buy used, including baby bottles, mattresses, and car seats. So when it comes to your family’s safety, know that sometimes paying the retail price is worth it.

There’s a lot of opportunity at garage sales. With the right planning and some know-how, you may find that one item on your wish list and save money in the process.

At Erie Insurance, we know it feels great to get exactly what you need at a price you can afford. That’s why your local ERIE agent is always just a phone call away, ready to help you find homeowners insurance customized exactly to your home and budget.