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Top Ten Garage Sale Tips

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by Justine lovitt (subscribe)
I'm a part-time Psychology student, part-time freelance writer living in Brisbane Northern Suburbs. I love experiencing Brisbane's great life, cuddling my cat and being with great friends as well as snuggling up with a good book at night.
Published April 19th 2012

I don't know about most people, but just reading "Garage Sale" in my local Saturday paper is enough to have me beaming, grabbing my handbag and shoes, and racing out the door to see what bargains I can pick up! After all, this could be the day where I find the knick-knack of my dreams or that chic pair of shoes for less than five dollars! How can one possibly go wrong?

After years of dedicated garage sale shopping, I have found ways to make the whole shopping experience the most rewarding it can be. Here are ten tips I have found that have helped me come home with what I want while not spending money on junk I will have abandoned after three months.

1. Before you embark, think honestly think about what you need. Are you really going to use those cute little china cups or the monopoly board with half the pieces missing? Take a few moments to jot down what it is you're after.

2. Don't take more money than you can afford to spend. Sure, garage sales are known for their one and two dollar price tags but if you load up the car with these little items, before you know it you could end up spending may more than you reckoned on.

3. If you are not sure why someone is selling what appears to be a perfectly good item for a really ridiculously low price, ask. You can still be diplomatic by saying something like "So...you don't use this piece of equipment any more?" and seeing what ensues. I remember buying an exercise bike that fell apart after a week for want of better questioning.

4. Bring a long a friend, or a family member, especially with trying on clothes, for a second opinion perhaps. Just make sure it's someone you get along well with!!

5. Don't bring someone who doesn't enjoy such affairs. They won't enjoy the expedition at all, and you may feel pressured to leave early. Don't let that detract from your enjoyment.

6. Best also to leave the kids at home. What with the countless children's books, bikes, board games it could turn into a trip of "Mummy please please can I just have that one more thing?"!

7. Before leaving, look at all the garage sales in the area. Try not to spend too long at any one so you get to see them all. That way, if you find something that's a better piece of furniture, or a better pair of shoes, you won't have spent unnecessary money. Most people will let you put a 'hold' on things for awhile while you check out the other shops. But it may not be best to say you are checking out another garage sale - perhaps going home for a quick cuppa might be more diplomatic.

8. Don't be afraid to negotiate! If some prices seem a bit high, and particularly if they don't seem to be selling too well, have a chat with the owner, to see if it can be dropped a few dollars. Most likely, the owner will be glad to have it out of the hands.

9. If possible try everything out. If there's exercise equipment, have a go on it. If there's a bike, see if you can have permission (or your child can have permission) to ride it around the yard.

10. Most of all, enjoy yourself. You'll most likely come home with some wonderful bargains at really cheap prices you'll enjoy, and you only get to do this once a Saturday, so make the most of it!
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Why? Because it's fun, affordable and a great way to spend a Saturday
When: Usually every Saturday
Where: Check out your local newspaper for dates, and places
Cost: Very very little
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