I spent last week in Ottawa visiting family and celebrating my beloved mother-in-law’s 90th birthday. It was a great little vacation and while that was our primary purpose for visiting, I also happen to have sisters-in-law and niece who are not only die-hard thrifters but genius garage salers.
I almost NEVER go to garage sales. The reason? I’m lazy. Saturday mornings for me are sacred: breakfast in bed with the New York Times crossword. On a good Saturday, John and I can be there until 11 am. I know, right? And I know enough about garage sales to know that if you start at 11 am, you might as well not bother because all the good stuff will be gone.
But given the opportunity to garage sale with experts, I jumped at the chance. So we headed out bright and early on Saturday morning with a limited time frame of only 2 hours. We hit 4 different locations – the last one was a block –wide garage sale with 7 or 8 sales on one street: jackpot!
Between thrift adventures and garage saling, I got a fair amount of things, so I’m going to blog about this over several weeks starting with some garage sale wisdom.
Price your stuff. Yes it’s time consuming but dollar stores have sheets of price dots you can buy to allow you to do this fairly quickly. If you’re too cheap for that, masking tape still works! Pricing your stuff allows garage-salers to determine not only if they’re interested but how much they’ll have to barter with you. These games were not priced so initially I didn’t know what I’d have to pay. Turned out the FIFA 2010 game also had the disc for FIFA 2008 in it – Score! I also chose the movies and altogether paid $20. Had to barter a bit to get there, which leads me to my second piece of wisdom…
You must be willing to barter. Unlike thrift shops, garage sale etiquette practically demands the opportunity to barter and there seems to be some method to it. If a thing isn’t priced, ask for a price. This is where it gets interesting. The expression on your face can be the downfall of the rookie garage sale holder – if he thinks you’re not going to buy it at that price, he’ll immediately drop it. A more seasoned garage sale holder will wait for you to counter-offer and then banter back and forth until you agree on a price. The trick is to know your own limit and to try to read the garage sale holder’s limit. Sometimes you can low-ball someone when you think they don’t really care how much money they’re going to make and they just want to get rid of the stuff.
This is my brother-in-law Pat. He’s a boat-lover: he sails, rows and paddles, he builds model boats and real boats. So when I saw this map of ship-wrecks around Sable Island, I knew I had to get it for him. It was priced at $10 but I haggled with the nice man who owned it and got it for $5.
My son had a room mate who worked for Starbucks so they always had coffee and a Bodum to make it in. But at the end of the school year, room mate left and took Bodum with him. I was super happy to find this, a Titelist Golf Hat and this Foodie game for a foodie friend of mine – all for $2. Nothing was priced and the seller obviously just wanted to get rid of the stuff. Hurray for me!