Garage Sailing (attending garage sales) is an art. Just like sailing a ship, you have to have a plan, set your course, and have a keen eye to arrive home with a catch you can be proud of. Garage Sailing is not without its perils. The suburban seas can be treacherous. Learn how to navigate the dangers of these waters to furnish your apartment on a budget.
Furnishing your apartment can get expensive, especially if it's your first one and you're starting from scratch. The best way to completely furnish your apartment on a modest budget is to find hidden gems at garage sales. Look for items that suit your needs. For furniture, focus your attention on the form and sturdiness of an item, not so much on the color. If the color doesn't fit your style, don't worry, you would be surprised what a few cans of spray paint can do.
Do Your Research
Whether discovering new lands while sailing the 7 seas, or just looking for a good deal on a used futon, you must do your research. Decide what you need, and know where to look. For the intrepid Garage Sailor, these 3 resources should do the trick.
Craigslist - Yes, after all these years, Craigslist is still a thing, and one of the easiest ways to find garage sales near you. They have a specific garage sale category and you can search for keywords and apply lots of filters to narrow down your search.
Facebook Marketplace - In 2016 Facebook launched their marketplace, where you can post items to buy or sell. More and more people are starting to use this feature and you can find some pretty good deals on there if you're quick.
The Local Newspaper - Some folks still read newspapers, and of course, most newspapers now have an online version as well. The classifieds section in your local newspaper can be a good spot to find a garage sale that may not be posted on the other online sites like craigslist. There's an opportunity to scoop up a deal that no one else knows about.
Plot Your Course
There's no sense in driving back and forth across town each time you look up a new garage sale. Find the sales you want, then plot a course on the map that saves time. Prioritize the sales you think show the most promise first. Using the Yard Sale Treasure Map App, you can actually plan your route from one sale to the next.
Timing is Everything!
Most garage sales start on Saturday mornings. Some will run on both Saturday and Sunday, but Sunday pickings can be slim. Your best bet is to review posted sales and come up with a plan on Friday night.
The early bird gets the worm. Still true. If there's a garage sale with some particular items listed that you're interested in, get there first. The good stuff usually goes quick! Get there right around the listed start time, but DO NOT bother them until the sale actually opens. Anyone poking around a garage sale 30 minutes before its listed start time will be forced to walk the plank! It's disrespectful to the people running the sale and unfair to your competitors. Garage sales may be chaotic but a certain etiquette still applies.
Sometimes the best deals are at the end of the day. Even though good stuff might sell quickly in the morning, there are often deals to be found in the last couple hours of the sale. By this time the sellers are worn out and becoming less attached to their junk by the minute. An item that they have been holding out on all day, trying to get $40 for, can see as much as a 50% price reduction when it gets down to the wire.
Bundles are the Best Deals
Just like being in international waters, Garage Sailing has etiquette, but there are very few actual rules. Everything is negotiable! The time honored tradition of arguing over prices at a garage sale to save fifty cents on a frying pan is still alive and well. Instead of negotiating a per item price, try the bundling strategy. Collect several items you're interested in and then offer a bundle price for the whole lot. You can easily save 25% - 30% using the bundling method.
Beware of Pirates
When you find something you like, scoop it up immediately and carry it around with you. Otherwise you'll look back and it will be gone! Garage sales are full of ruthless pirates. They know you were looking at that desk lamp, and maybe you only stepped away to ask the price, but the moment you leave it behind they will pull it right out from under you.
Anything that someone else gives attention to at a yard sale immediately has more value. Unless you're physically touching an item, it's fair game. Once you can't carry any more with you, ask the seller if you can leave a pile by the checkout area so you can continue shopping. This is still risky behavior because the policies on "reserved piles" are loosely enforced. If you really want it, buy it now and lock it in your car.
You're Gonna Need a Bigger Boat
Part of showing up prepared is arriving in a vessel that can transport all of your treasures. Always plan on needing more space than you bargained for. The seasoned Garage Sailor shows up with a pickup truck or an SUV, but the true Master of the Suburban Seas shows up towing a flatbed trailer. "What's this? Full-sized Woolly Mammoth replica for $15...yeah we've got room for that!"
Have fun out there and be safe. No one loves garage sales more than senior citizens, and some of them sail large boats with outdated navigation equipment. Using the tips above, you can furnish your apartment without breaking the bank.
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