When eBay first started, garage sales were most sellers’ main source for finding products. And though product sourcing has come a long way, garage sales still provide a wide range of quality goods at rock bottom prices.
Rules of the Game
According to Terry Gibbs, founder of IWantCollectibles.com, “Garage sales are a numbers game. You always have to be looking.” The trick to successful garage sale hunting is persistence. You’ve just got to keep getting out, going back, and being constantly on the look-out for new products to sell.
1. Get an early start. You’re competing with all the other shoppers for the best finds. Most garage sales start fairly early in the morning, so if you wait until the afternoon, you’ll be picking through the leftovers.
2. Hit as many garage sales as possible. When you find a good buy, don’t put it in your car and drive home—head to the next garage sale. If you find something, buy it and move on. If you don’t find something, move on. But be serious about getting your numbers up.
3. Bring cash. You don’t have the time to waste stopping at an ATM or trying to convince a seller to let you write a personal check. Sellers aren’t going to give you all their change either, so bring small and medium bills, not just a few hundred dollar bills.
All You Have to Do is Ask
Sometimes sellers have things that they haven’t set out, but that they’d consider selling. So ask if they have additional items, and be specific about what you’re looking for. Speak up when you ask, because a nearby shopper may own something you’d be interested in, or know someone who does. Take a notebook and pen and get their information. Carry your business cards and let people know what you buy. Follow up every sourcing lead you get.
It’s also okay to ask sellers if they’ll take less for an item—people have garage sales because they want to get rid of the items they’re selling. If you know you can make a profit on something, there’s nothing wrong with buying it at the asking price. But Gibbs stresses, “Prices aren’t firm… In the garage sale network people expect [you to haggle], so it a good place to practice.” If you’re not sure of an item’s value, don’t be afraid to make an offer—you’ve got nothing to lose.