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Tips for a successful garage sale season

By Judy Treptau

After months (and months...and months) of winter, garage sale season is finally here!

I have been garage sale-ing for years. So I guess you could call me a "seasoned saler." From one garage saler to another, here are a few tips to help you use your time wisely and get the best bargains possible.

1. Arrive early. Find out what time the sale begins, and then make sure you are there at least 20 minutes early. Some people will actually open their doors early if there are enough people waiting. The old saying "you snooze, you lose" applies to garage sale-ing. If you arrive late, you might miss out on the best stuff.

2. Bring food and water. If you stay hydrated and fed, you can shop longer.

3. Make a list before you head out. Many people shop for clothes, or maybe it's home improvement items. Others look for furniture. Whatever it might be, make a list of the items you are specifically looking for. That way you won't waste a lot of time at places that don't have exactly what you want.

4. Move steadily through the sale. Unless there are many items you are interested in, breeze through and head on to the next.

5. If you see something you love, buy it right away! Don't wait and hope it might show up someplace else. You can do that in a department store. Not at a garage sale. Once it's gone, it's gone. As long as the price seems right, snatch it up.

6. Don't hesitate to ask if they will take a lower price. Usually this will not happen first thing in the morning. Later in the day, many people just want to get rid of stuff, so they might make a deal with you.

7. Bring cash, small bills and change with you.

8. Map out your route, especially if there is a neighborhood sale going on. Check out where the sales are and have a plan in place. This will allow you to hit more places and get more bargains.

9. If you go with a friend, make sure you both understand why you are going, whether it's to browse or to find some specific items. If your lists are similar, then go and have fun. If you are on a mission to find the perfect dresser for your child's bedroom, you might decide to go alone. Otherwise, you will be ready to go and your friend will still be sorting through piles and piles of jeans. This can be very frustrating.

10. Arrive in a vehicle that's big enough to fit all your purchases. If you are a serious saler, you will bring a truck, because you just never know when you'll find the perfect item and need to haul it home in a pick-up. Tell your husband that he gets to stay home that morning and clean - you're taking the truck!

Most of all, remember to have fun! Garage sale-ing is a good way to get outside, find a great deal and meet some fun people.

Happy garage sale season!

Judy Treptau is the owner of Beautiful Interiors by Judy in Willmar. She writes the blog "Beautiful Interiors" at

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