Finding Garage Sale Collectibles

Garage sales can offer an assortment of collectibles. This article will help you devise a plan on finding those treasures.

Imagine this; you're driving up the street of your neighborhood at noon on a Saturday when you notice a garage sale. Tempted, you pull in and have a look around. There on the ground is a Barbie doll in a box, not just any Barbie, but an original Barbie with her wrist tag in perfect condition. How much do you want for her? You ask, holding your breath. Two bucks, says the seller. You nearly choke; these things sell for more than a thousand dollars at auction! Shaking you take two dollars out of your pocket, pay the seller, then take the doll and run. WOW! What a coup!

Okay, that's not gonna happen, but you can still find treasures hidden among the trash at flea markets and garage sales. Hundreds of people are making a living reselling this stuff and you can too. Just follow these easy tips:


If you show up at noon, you might as well have stayed home. Even ten is too late. Dealers scour flea markets and garage sales for a living so you need to be standing there when the door opens.


Since you can't be first at every garage sale, planning your route is a must. Streets with multiple sales are the best place to begin since you can hit several in a row. Find listings in your local paper then map them using mapping software. You'll have exact directions and groupings will be easy to spot.


Condition is everything! That same Barbie without her tag and box is worth half of what she is mint. Now half is still good when you're talking a five hundred dollar item but usually that's not the case. Unless an item is extremely rare or the damage is very slight don't buy it. Rusted lunchboxes are worthless, as are action figures with missing legs. Forget about repairs, again, unless the item is a genuinely valuable antique, it's not worth the time or effort.


And keep them in separate pockets. If the seller asks for ten dollars and you pull out a wad of twenties, you're paying full price. If they ask for ten, you reach into your pocket and pull out a single five, ("Gee, it's all I've got.") there's a good chance they'll take the money and run.


A flashlight - for looking at the joints on furniture and into other dark places

Wet wipes - to see if that mark is dirt that washes off or magic marker which is staying put.

A Price Guide - to what ever it is you're looking for. Buy a generic one that includes markings and tips on thousands of items. (But don't look the item up in front of the seller)

An instant camera - this is great for a huge flea market. Photograph the stuff you're not sure of in case you want to come back.

Now let's get a plan. It's Friday, you've got the paper, your map, your backpack of supplies, small bills in separate pockets and your alarm set for six a.m. There's only one thing more that you need, a bit of luck. Remember, there are hundreds of people out there looking for the treasure. You may not score on the first try or even the second, but with time, planning and perseverance you may just find that mint in box Barbie, or something else just as good.

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