Garage Sale Finds

by Josh on August 27, 2010 · 4 comments

in antiques,furniture,Journal

Garage sales can be a great source of vintage house parts and antiques.  Even though I only got out to a few garage sales this summer, I had some excellent luck.

Antique Plant Stand

This nice mission-style oak plant stand was set out at a garage sale just 5 minutes before I scooped it up for a song at $10.  The finish on the plant stand isn’t flawless, but that just means it’s a perfect match for my dining room.  I think the curved shape of the top and base is really charming, too.  I’ve wanted a plant stand for this corner spot for a long time and I’m happy to say this deal was worth the wait.

Dard Hunter Style Candlesticks

A few weeks later, I found these Dard Hunter-inspired candlesticks at a garage sale that was overflowing with tempting treasures.  I don’t know why I picked these instead of the McCoy art pottery or the 1920’s wall sink and lighted vanity–probably it was because I’d never seen anything quite like them.  At $25, the price was certainly higher than most things at a standard garage sale, but I thought it was well worth it for the candlesticks’ awesome vintage character.

Garage Sale Tips:

  • Be an early bird! The best deals and most desirable items often sell soon after a sale opens.  Try to get to your most promising sales in the first hour of their first day– and ask if they expect to put out any more things later.
  • Do your homework! Look for sale information online before you go, especially on sites like Craigslist that allow detailed descriptions and pictures of what you’ll find at each sale.  That way you’ll have a better idea of how to prioritize your stops.  But don’t neglect to mix in some unadvertised sales you come across, too.
  • Haggle!  (But just a little.) When buying multiple items or something “large ticket” try asking for a fair price break.  “Would you take $X for these?” or “Is this your best price for X?” are good openers.  Just don’t push haggling too hard, especially if prices seem fair to start with, and don’t haggle on something you aren’t committed to buying if the deal is accepted.  In this time of recession and job loss, many people are holding garage sales to make a bit of extra cash– don’t let your quest for an epic deal pinch someone already hurting.
  • Know your budget! Faced with one-of-a-kind items or a great value opportunity, it can be tempting to buy now and sort out the budget later.  (A certain vintage stove comes to mind…)  If you are considering asking the seller to hold an item for you while you run to the ATM, that’s a good sign you should probably just walk away.

If you have an interesting recent garage sale find, or a tip for garage sale bargain hunters, share it in the comments.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Katie August 27, 2010 at 8:21 am

I appreciate your “haggle (but just a little bit)” comment. My hubs & I held a garage sale this summer and were BLOWN AWAY by how insistent people were about haggling. “Can I have this $1 set of dishes for .25? They seem used.” Ummm… no…. you’re at a garage sale, they are used… that’s why they’re $1!


Josh August 27, 2010 at 8:58 am

I’ve had the same experience at our sales, Katie. That’s why I try to keep the idea of a fair price in mind. There is a segment of hardcore garage salers that aggressively haggle simply to boost their own profits when they re-sell the items on ebay or craigslist. That may sound like “good business” but it isn’t how I’d like to treat my neighbors.


Stephanie September 2, 2010 at 1:14 pm

Those candlesticks are lovely! I’ve never stumbled upon anything like that at a garage sale. I’m jealous! 🙂


Josh September 14, 2010 at 6:36 am

Thanks, Stephanie. That place I got the candlesticks just had another garage sale a couple weeks ago, and they had a pair of small hammered metal Roycroft vases! Unfortunately, even garage sale Roycroft is beyond my budget.


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