12 reasons why I love garage sales and you should too!
You guys. Garage sale season. It’s like farmer’s market season…but slightly less Instagram-able and a lot more VHS tapes. In other words, I totally love it.
It all started when I was a little kid and discovered the bargains that could be had on Beanie Babies at garage sales. My brother and I would hound our mom to take us to sales every time we saw a sign. And I still have a massive tote full of Beanies that I can’t bear to get rid of. It’s fine, our future kids will for sure love them. Or maybe that whole Beanie Baby investment scheme will finally come to pass.
Beanie Babies aside, there are a whole lot of reasons that I love garage sales and think you should too! Maybe you don’t like used furniture/clothes, or have been disillusioned by one too many bad sales, but I’m here to give you 12 solid reasons to give garage sale-ing a try!
1 – The awesome stuff. This might be obvious, but I hold the stance that some of the best deals in furniture, antiques, and “junk”, (etc. etc.) are still to be found at garage sales. Sometimes people just don’t know how awesome their junk is, and I am just waiting here ready to take it off their hands. Whether you are clothing an army of kiddos, hunting down antiques, or scoping out inexpensive furniture to flip, garage sales can be pure gold.
(picture frames I found at various sales and then chalk-painted, also used as a temporary gallery wall here)
2 – Save that money. Again, pretty obvious, but in an age when thrift stores seem to be getting pricier and pricier, garage sales are still a great option to save money on clothes and household goods. There are definitely over-priced sales, but I am always finding insane deals that just can’t be beat. Like this $5 mid-century dresser that I passed on to my sister (I wish I had a styled shot, because it is SO cute in her master bedroom). Even at Ikea you won’t be finding $5 dressers!
3 – Everything is negotiable! On the same vein, just because something has a $20 sticker, doesn’t mean it’s $20. I tend to be really shy about asking for a discount, but people say yes all the time and it’s crazy the deals you can get. As an experiment, I forced myself to ask for 50% off the stickered prices every time I bought something last Friday…and guess what? The answer was yes every single time.
(gorgeous antique teacups I found last year; they are such a pretty pop of color and just make me smile)
4 – Meet your neighbors! We live in a very quiet neighborhood and visiting some of the sales on our block is the first way I was able to meet a few of the families that live near us. Don’t forget to introduce yourself when you stop by and look at the sale as an opportunity to build community in your neighborhood (something that is becoming more rare all the time).
5 – House shopping. I love discovering new neighborhoods and getting to take a closer look at homes as I garage sale around our community. It’s also seriously one of the best things you can do if you are considering moving. You will find the neighborhoods where no one mows their lawn ever. You will find the neighborhoods where it literally takes almost four hours to take a left turn out the neighborhood (hint: don’t move here). And you will find that darling farmhouse that is a total character home and needs you to move there as soon as possible.
6 – The weirdness. Sometimes sales will be totally unproductive from a shopping standpoint, but totally successful from an entertainment standpoint. For instance, did you know people sell food at garage sales? Like expired pasta and old boxes of tea? I didn’t know this, and it still strikes me as odd, but there’s something oddly endearing about the weirdness. And if the weirdness turns out to be less endearing and more “let’s-run-away-now”, at least it makes a great story, right?
7 – People are awesome. This might become a story I share more than once on the blog, but last year I found this great dresser for $10 (see following pic) and wanted it SO bad. I knew it wasn’t worth spending $40 renting a truck, so I was hoping it would fit in my car. But after trying to get it in and my face blushing HARD from the embarrassment of the attempt (even the neighbor who was mowing his lawn came over to help), the sweet guy selling stuff with his wife offered to bring it to my house for me. This was SO SWEET of them. I still have to refinish the dresser, but it is just the ticket for my craft room (or future kiddos) and I love it even more because it reminds me how utterly kind people can be!
8 – Learn history and share stories. On the same note, I love getting to hear the stories that people have to share…and there are a lot of great people that will gladly share if you just take the time to listen. I bought a coffee table last year from a super kind lady, who even shared some tips with me for scoring garage sale bargains in my particular area of town. I also recently learned which house in our town is the original turn-of-the-century doctor’s home, so the history nerd in me was pretty excited about that (now I just need to see inside!!).
($20 chair I found last week and managed to stuff into my car. I still don’t know how it fit, but I’m not complaining!)
9 – Garage sales are full of surprises. I found these amazing rolling pins I shared recently for a $1 each at a garage sale that I normally might have passed by. It was your typical middle-aged-couple-with-kids sale. Discarded toys, kids clothes, some bad china that was likely a wedding gift, and a few cat toys and power tools to round things out. But buried in the melee were ALSO things from the kids’ grandma, including some great ironstone and a collection of vintage wooden kitchen implements. Winning. A garage sale can always surprise ya!
10 – Step back in time. It’s always fun to see the things that have been collected and saved by generations through the years. I love getting a small taste of what life was like when I find old books, pretty china, and countless other vintage items. I was really on the fence about this stroller I grabbed for $5 last week, but when I showed a photo to my mom, she said it was the same stroller that she rode in as a little girl! I plan on using it as planter/porch decor, but I was so excited to discover the connection.
11 – Classic furniture. I am trying to furnish and update our first home as inexpensively as possible, so being able to find well-made classic furniture at low prices is such a huge blessing. I’m often limited in what I can pick up because of my tiny car (so sad!!!), but I have really found some great deals on antique/mid-century pieces. If you’re concerned about the cleanliness of these items, I recommend staying away from upholstery since it’s a lot easier to clean up wood (and you won’t be trying to remove dust and dirt from cushions etc.).
(gorgeous walnut end table that also went to my sister)
12 – Inspiration to declutter. There’s nothing quite like seeing a garage (and sometimes a yard too!) filled with discarded worldly goods to feel newly inspired to pare down and simplify. As a country, we Americans are spoiled with the pure amount of stuff we own. We are overwhelmed with stuff and spend countless hours cleaning it, storing it, organizing it, selling it, buying it, and hoarding it. And sometimes we need a reminder that we have sooo much more than enough. After a weekend of hitting the sales, I am newly inspired to keep my house simple and pared down. It’s not always easy, but I truly believe simple is better!
So that’s my take on garage sales! What’s your best reason to hit the sales?? Tell me in the comments below!
Ellen! Your blog is SO gorgeous! Well done my friend! I loved this post. And I agree about thrift stores–they’re getting more and more expensive. Garage sales all the way in my book!
Sarah, thank you so much!! You totally made my day with your sweet comment! Thanks for stopping by!