Find the best bargains at garage sales

Expert shopper shares her tricks to the trade


Everyone wants to find great deals at garage sales, but how do you know which ones to hit and the ones to skip? And once you're there, how do you find those valuable bargains?

Stacey Ptak, a mom of 5-year-old triplets, says she starts online.

"Normally what I do is I just go on Craigslist and there's an actual link for garage sales," she said.

Ptak said sales are listed a few weeks before they're held, so make a list and create a route. You can hit more sales in a shorter amount of time that way, which is important to busy moms. She suggest sticking to subdivision-organized sales.

"You can have 10 to 20 sales in one sub. It's very time-efficient. With my situation, with three small ones, you have to hit as many as you can before they start telling you they have to go potty or they're tired or they're hungry," Ptak said.

Start early. Ptak said you'll have a bigger selection and a better chance at the best big-ticket items if you start shopping in the morning. But, depending on what you're looking for, Ptak said there are also advantages to going late in the day. As sales draw to a close, items are often marked down even more because the seller just wants to get rid of them.

Wear the right clothes. Don't show up at garage sales disheveled, but you don't have to wear your Sunday best.

Talk to the seller. Forming a humanizing connection makes it easier to barter.
Bundle. Start a collection of things you want to buy -- odds are the seller may be more likely to cut you a deal when you express interest in buying multiple things.

Ptak warned about going overboard and buying something just because of the price.

Ptak said some of the best things to buy at garage sales are scrapbooking materials and holiday decorations.