If you’re a fan of shows like Storage Wars or Auction Hunters, you’ll understand the thrill of finding valuable treasure within heaps of what seem like useless goods and trash. Watching them sift through piles of old, sometimes unclassifiable junk only to uncover a rare collectible from the 70’s or a discontinued style of jeans that’s now worth a few hundred dollars makes us think of all the untapped potential that’s awaiting us in stranger’s homes in our own city or community.
Right now is prime garage or estate sale season! (For those who may not know, the simple difference between a garage sale and an estate sale is that an estate sale is where almost everything you see on the property is on sale, whereas a garage sale is more so a display of what the seller has decided to get rid of after carefully going through everything in the house.) As this season of garage and estate sales goes into full swing, here are ways to make sure you get the best deals and maybe even find your own Storage Wars-worthy treasure!
1. Do your homework and get there early.
You may be out of school or enjoying a day off, but when it comes to scoring good deals at garage and estate sales, you have to be in the know and you should be there before everyone else. Sellers almost always go through media to advertise their sale, whether through Kijiji or through advertisements in the newspaper. People also post flyers on bulletin boards in local coffee shops and grocery stores. Once you’ve scouted out the sales you want to attend, you should get there early so you can beat out like-minded deal hunters and get first dibs on whatever it is you’re looking for.
2. Zero in on neighborhoods with the “vibe” you seek.
We’re told not to judge a book by its cover (and normally that’s good advice) but when it comes to garage and estate sales, this may be a tip you don’t have to follow to a T. While not 100% true all the time, the more upscale areas in your neighbourhood or city are probably more likely to have a larger amount of “high-end” treasure. Logically, this just makes sense. Now, this rule depends a lot on what it is you’re looking for. If you’re on a specific hunt for furniture, valuable jewelry, or larger ticket items, you’ll want to go to areas that you think will have the type of look or style you’re going for. On the other hand, if you’re just up for an adventure to find what you can find, then you can loosen the reins a bit and explore all neighborhoods.
3. Don’t be shy.
A lot of us cringe at the idea of haggling because it just seems rude to try and negotiate prices down. However, what you should know is that most sellers (especially at garage and estate sales) will ticket items higher in anticipation of negotiations from customers, so really, you’re just fulfilling your duties. Just remember, keep your negotiations polite, try to make conversation with the seller, ask questions about the item and maybe even the history of it, and if you’re not happy with the final price, just walk away and continue your search elsewhere! Don’t underestimate the power of walking away- playing a little hard to get can sometimes motivate the seller if they’re really looking to get rid of the item.
4. Be thorough.
The art of skimming is not your friend at garage and estate sales. Get your hands dirty and really dig through bins, baskets, and piles. Then, if you haven’t found much from your first walk around, take a second walk and carefully go over the items on sale again. The first time you go through a garage or estate sale, your eyes are still processing what you’re seeing, so walking through a second time gives you the chance to take in new things you probably missed the first time.
5. Make life easier for everyone.
This tip is short and sweet, and while it may seem like common sense, it’s worth mentioning: BRING CASH. The reality is a lot of us have gotten used to just carrying plastic around but that’s not going to work at a garage or estate sale since the average household doesn’t have a debit or credit card machine set up for your convenience. (Don’t forget, estate sales generally have higher-priced items, and while SOME may be set up to take credit card, it’s better to work under the assumption that they don’t, so bring cash accordingly.)
Ready to start treasure hunting? Find garage, yard, and estate sales all over Canada on Kijiji!