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If you have a question about saving money, organizing, kids crafts, or any other topic on my pages that wasn't answered here, stop at my message board and ask. Maybe you have a dilema about how to store some particular items and don't know what to try. How about trying The 'Ask Michelle' Message Board? I'm here to help!


The Traditional Moms
Garage Sale-Ing


[Coupon Tips] [Saving At Garage Sales] [Finds In Grandmas Attic] [Bartering For The Extras] [Thrift Shopping] [Decorating On A Budget]
[My One Cent Worth]

Hi, I'm Michelle and I am a garage saleaholic. I admit I am powerless over garage sales. I admit I have dragged my family from driveway to driveway and yard to yard on countless Saturday mornings. I admit to reading the classified ads in search of estate sales, moving sales, and reposessions every week during the spring. I have formed this page so I will not be alone in my addiction.

But seriously, these are my tips for finding treasure rather than junk when doing the garage sales. I hope you find it helpul!

Lets start with the kids. Most likely we will have them with us. Most likely the garage sale you visit will also be selling dirty stuffed animals, broken happy meal toys, and other really interesting stuff for the little ones. This can cause touching, grabbing, begging, crying, and pouting. These things can be very distracting. So how do we solve this problem? I have a deal with my kids. They have each chosen a 'garage sale' collection. Something that they like and want to add to for a good price. My daughter has chosen yellow ducks, for example. She spends her time at the garage sale looking for wood ducks, stuffed ducks, duck cookie cutters, duck pictures, or whatever else there may be. She knows that if she successfully finds a yellow duck, I will buy it for her if she likes it. This occupies her long enough to allow me to search through the things I am looking for. Last summer she added about 10 different yellow duck items to the collection. My son has just chosen miniature boats. He can't wait to start looking for his first one, he won't be begging for the stuffed dog with the missing ear. :-)

This tip deals with how to carry the money. I like a fanny pack with lots of pockets. It frees my hands for looking through items and it keeps the big bucks seperate from the singles and change. Put change in pants pockets, keep single dollar bills in the easiest pocket of the fanny pack to access. Keep the larger amounts seperately in other fanny pack pockets. This way you only get into the pocket for the amount you want. It is a little hard to ask someone if they will take $1.50 for an item marked at $1.75 if you are dropping 20 dollar bills all over their driveway.

Go early on the first day of the sale to get the best selections. Of course we all know that. It also gives you an idea of what is there for later. If you see an item you would like to have but the price is way to steep you can check back late on the last day of the sale. If it is still there, most likely it will be 50% less than it was on the first day. Or you can offer a really low price this late in the sale. Many people will take any price at this point so they don't have to clean it up or store it again!

Here's a simple one. Don't buy small change items that will only end up in your next garage sale. Try to always be looking for the big stuff.

When looking at those smaller items and medium items, before looking at the price marked, decide how much you want or need it. Think up a price you would pay for it at a garage sale and the price you might pay for it new. Now look at the price that is marked. Does this fall into what you would have paid? Is it worth it?

On the big items...decide what you are looking for early in spring or summer before the garage sales start. Search for that item like you are on a mission. This will keep you from buying what you really didn't need on impulse to save what cash you have for that big item.

Buy quality! Don't buy cheap or bad furniture because it was only $20.00. It will end up in the dumpster. Look for solid wood, dove tailed drawers, fine furniture names. Find the beauty that is hidden under bad paint and torn fabric. A piece may look terrible under the knicks and coffee stains but with a little fabric, varnish, or elbow greese, you will end up with pieces that can be passed on for generations.

Picture items in your home. Does it fit in? Are the woods the same or similiar? Do you have a place to put it? You may find the most lovely antique victorian buffet, but if your home is full of mission style furniture or lighter wood tones, it won't look right at home.

See items for their pieces and parts. This is a big one! For example, someone put $15.00 a piece porcelien knobs on a pressed wood cabinet and they are selling it for $5.00. Buy the cabinet for the knobs!
Another example. Someones great grandma Myrtle made a plastic flower arrangement in 1958. This is being sold for $2.00. The vase is art deco and worth a lot of money. Buy the arrangement, go home, make a beeline for the trash. Turn the vase upside down, dumping the plastic flowers. Close the trash lid tightly and admire your vase.
Need another example? Is that the the most awful lamp you have ever seen or is it the most awful lamp shade covering a lovely base the exact color of your bedspread?

See items as different items. Is that box of old pantyhose 'Take all for a quarter' a box of old pantyhose or is it the stuffing for those doll pillows you are making your daughter?
Is that wool sweater with the hole in the sleeve a ruined sweater or is it the fabric for this years Christmas stockings?
What about that old life preserver for a dollar? It looks to me like the frame for the bathroom mirror in the cottage you are remodeling. And that wooden oar for a nickel behind you? That is the sofa painting.

A word about smell. When it comes to upholstered items, watch out for the musty smell. This does not come out and will mean replacing all cushions. For chairs this is not bad, some foam from the fabric store will work for a couple bucks. As for couch cushions, replacing these is a minor fortune. Around here they run about $35.00 - $75.00 per cushion. It still can be worth it for a brand name long lasting sofa, but not for run of the mill furniture. Be aware of how much you can spend fixing up an item before you buy it.

Last but not least, I will contradict myself a bit here. Don't pass up an item that just 'belongs' in a collection you have because it was $1.00 more than you wanted to spend. You will regret it enough later to gladly double the asking price if it was only still available. If it touches your heart, buy it now!

This Site Is Created And Maintained By
Michelle (The Traditional Mom).
The Tradional Mom 2000