Keep an Eye Out For These Garage Sale Items

by Katy on August 8, 2016 · 14 comments

The following post was first published over at Clark

Garage sale season is upon us, which can mean either, A) Time to get rid of the excess within your home, or B) Time to take advantage of all the amazing deals you can score from other people’s garage sales. Unlike a thrift store whose goal is to make as much money as possible to support their non-profit mission, garage sales are put on by people who are simply looking to get rid of their often brand new stuff, even if that means taking a huge loss.

But their loss is your gain, because garages sales are a great opportunity to buy a much higher quality item than you could normally afford. Because why shop at Wal-Mart, Ikea or Target for a frankly low quality item when you can spend less for an expensive brand designed to last throughout the years?

Here’s what to keep an eye out for:


Having next to no budget for furniture doesn’t mean you’re destined to buy particle board and veneer placeholders. Garage sales offer the opportunity to pick up high quality furniture that can be handed down through multiple generations.

Dressers with dovetail joints. You can be sure that manufacturers who took this extra step have created a quality product. Often an vintage piece, an older dresser can be a classic style that’s not teetering on the edge of outdatedness.

Solid wood furniture. If you’re handy with a paint brush, you can transform bland or unfashionable furniture into beautiful pieces that are sure to last.

Quality upholstered furniture is likely to be heavier than your average big box example, so lift up that armchair for a quick clue as to the product’s quality.

Check the joints. If you see that the piece was assembled using an allen-wrench then leave it behind, as it’s unlikely to be a piece manufactured with longevity in mind.

Pots and pans

If you’re tired of shelling out big bucks on new pans every couple of years, garage sales are the place to go.

Cast iron pans. Many people shy away from cast iron, thinking it’s too fussy or doesn’t work with a glass top stove. (Not true, as countless people use cast iron on their glass cooktops without issue.) Certain brands such as Griswold and Wagner can even be worth hundreds of dollars, plus a cast iron pan will last until you no longer have the Thor-like strength to heft its’ mighty weight.

Enameled cast iron. With prices up to $300, quality brands such as Le Creuset would normally throw off your budget, but a garage sale alternative will often let you buy one of these workhorses for just a couple of bucks.

Stainless steel. Pricey brands such as Cuisinart or All-Clad are another quality pan to keep an eye out for when garage sale-ing. Without that pesky non-stick surface, there’s no coating to ruin. Buy quality, buy once.


A lot of trendy fast fashion is designed to be worn just a single season, with zero thought for the longevity of the piece. However, you can know that a garage sale garment that’s already been through a previous owner is unlikely to fall apart after a few washings. This goes for clothing, as well as outerwear and footwear. Know your brands and you can add timeless pieces to last through the years.


Tools. It’s not an uncommon occurrence for a garage sale to feature a table littered with dusty rusty tools, but don’t make the mistake of assuming that old means worthless. Older tools are more likely to be manufactured with quality in mind, and you can be sure that a monkey wrench that’s old enough to drink is likely to last another couple more decades.

Toys and baby stuff

Baby supplies. Parents all know that babies outgrow their supplies long before anything can possibly wear out, and since those parents are desperate to get rid of kid clutter, this area of bargain hunting is rich with treasure. Pay pennies instead of dollars for your baby’s needs, and you might just have a chance of setting money aside for college.

Pricey Euro-style toys. If you’re the type that leans towards Waldorf-style wooden or educational toys, you’re already aware of the sticker shock from $83 sets of blocks. Luckily you don’t have to be a Rockefeller to buy quality toys when shopping at garage sales. Browse garage sales in higher income neighborhoods, and you’ll be surprised what you can find.

Whether you’re needing baby supplies or fresh toys for the kiddos, garage sales can save you a bundle. Just make sure to glance through the Consumer Product Safety Commission website for recent recalls before heading out.


Garage sales are an amazing opportunity to buy the level of stuff that’s normally only available to wealthy big spenders. Choose this route and you can outfit your home with timeless items that don’t suffer from planned (or even perceived) obsolescence. You’ll be on budget, with style.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Marilyn August 8, 2016 at 1:15 pm

Yes, you can find all of these things at garage sales. I would add that you can often find exercise equipment, something people buy and use once or twice before it starts gathering dust. Also, books, lots of books. And CDs (which I like to play in the car when commuting).


JD August 8, 2016 at 1:21 pm

I so agree! The only issue with garage sales in this part of Florida is that there is no season; they are year round. Great, right? Wrong. One has to spend every flipping weekend going around the sales to see what’s out there, and a lot of people do them too often instead of saving up their stuff, so that it’s a tiny pile of limited stuff at too many sales. My weekends are busy, so I only check the sales a few times a year, and I know I must miss some deals. However, I’ve found:
A 12″ cast iron skillet, just needed to be cleaned and seasoned.
An Ethan Allen bedframe
A nice dresser and matching nightstand
A shop vac
A vacuum for a dollar that lasted almost a decade after I bought it
Nice, matched madras cloth napkins
Several good books
Some like-new toys and books
A Pyrex baking dish in a size I didn’t have, but needed
A Roseville pottery art dish
A washable dog bed for my dog
Many good wooden pictures frames
A bag of super nice wooden hangers from an upscale store that had closed
A sturdy wooden cabinet that fit an odd narrow spot in my laundry room
An entire bag of vacuum bags that fit my vacuum cleaner, 10 cents for the entire bag
Quality shirts for my husband
And more! It takes time and perseverance, but a lot of needed items can be found at yard sales.


Bee August 8, 2016 at 2:25 pm

This makes me think about all the fabulous things that I have picked up at garage sales over the years. I also have gotten rid of many wonderful things that I no longer needed. I have even experienced a day traveling along the 127 corridor for the world’s longest garage sale that is held every August and extends from Alabama to Michigan. You never know what you might find or who you might meet. Garage sales are always an adventure!


LisaC August 8, 2016 at 2:28 pm

As a grandma, I can attest to the toy finds. I have found WONDERFUL things for just a few dollars, like the indoor tent with tunnels that I put up on rainy days when they visit. 3 bucks.

When my kids were little, I’d gather up all of the change in the house and hit the yard sales. I came home with Fisher Price and Osh Kosh BGosh clothes.


Elli Chase August 8, 2016 at 4:02 pm

Great ideas!


janine August 8, 2016 at 6:18 pm

I remember when I got an entire wardrobe for my older son. Just stumbled upon the garage sale – even in the colors he loved. They were barely worn and he looked great in them. I seem to remember $5 for everything? He still likes to be well dressed.


AFS August 8, 2016 at 6:24 pm

Testimony & word of caution:
When shopping for a new stove I was attracted to the glass topped stoves because they promised easy clean up. I was never very diligent about cleaning the drip pans or rings on my old stove. The one thing holding me back was I wouldn’t be able to use my beloved cast iron skillets. The salesman told me as long as I didn’t slide the cast iron on the stove top but picked it up and set it down carefully there was no problem.
One drawback to the glass top is that the bottoms of your pans MUST be flat (not warped) or they don’t make contact with the heating element so if you have a glass top and are garage sale-ing for pots and pans make sure they sit nice and flat.


Cindy August 8, 2016 at 7:49 pm

Great advice, the only caution I would have is buying cribs or other baby furniture. unless I knew it met current standards and hadn’t been recalled. 🙂


Mrs. Picky Pincher August 9, 2016 at 5:34 am

I absolutely love garage sales. 🙂 I haven’t been to a decent one in a while, but you can really find some neat stuff.

We’re closing on a house in the next month, and we’ll need some good furniture to fill up the place. We’re thinking of checking out estate sales. Do you think those would have comparable garage sale prices? I think the quality might be better, as long as you’re all right with it coming from an estate sale.


JD August 9, 2016 at 6:52 am

Mrs. P.P., I’ve only been to a few estate sales, but most had slightly higher prices than garage sales. However, some had rock bottom prices because the family really needed to clean out the house and get it on the market. We had an estate sale when we emptied my parents house and barn and there was so much stuff that we let it all go for next to nothing. If you stumble across something like that, you sure can save some money.
True story — my dad came across a woman decades ago, selling things from her parents’ house in an estate sale, and he picked up the family Bible and told her she wouldn’t want to sell that, surely, since they usually have family history written in them. She said it wasn’t her family’s Bible and she didn’t know why her parents even had it. He opened it up out of curiosity– it was HIS family’s very old Bible. He offered to buy it but she gave it to him. You never know what you’ll find at an estate sale!


LT August 9, 2016 at 10:10 am

We have an annual highway sale weekend in my area… This year it was 177 miles along a highway, and every town along that stretch of road hosts city-wide sales. My MIL, SIL, and I like to go every year, and now that we have babies, the deals are even better! We got lots of clothes, books, and toys for the kids and paid a fraction of what new would cost. My favorite buys? A like-new Playskool digital camera for my son for $5, a super cool remote control car for $1, and for a little more, we found the ‘outlet’ for a little boutique so got lots of designer clothes for us at $5 or less!


Trish August 11, 2016 at 2:18 pm

Some of our best garage sale finds:

A washer and dryer for $200– we got the history, a couple bought a trailer to live in while building their dream house. We bought the W &D out of the trailer, but they had already upgraded for their dream house. The washer and dryer are still going strong 8 years later.

Set of 28 vintage blue juice glasses and a whole bunch of sewing supplies for $12 total

Solid pine kitchen table for $50. The legs unscrewed from the round top which was handy because I was walking home. I made 2 trips for the legs, one for the leaf, and then rolled the top home. 🙂 I’ve had it for 11 years, and if my 3 yr old son dents and dings it or makes a mess, I couldn’t care less! Someday when our kids are grown I’ll replace it with a lovely antique hardwood table, but for now, it’s perfect for us.


Lieveheersbeestje August 29, 2016 at 2:03 am

I do love this articel, very trough!
I live in the netherlands ( and yes, gardeners and farmers still wear those woorden shoes that you found!)❤️ But we have a lot of fleamarkets. In my town we have six during the summerhollydays, specially for kids. So during the year we save up the things we no longer use and my family too. The children pay 2 euro and can do their OWN business ! Such a good learning oppertunity. My youngest boy earned enough to buy a tablet last year and this year a second hand iPhone .
By the way, of you are into wood toys, buy the traintrails from Ikea ( second hand) ! 10 euro, and boy- proof! We combined these with Some wooden blocks and trains ( also fleamarketfounds) and the boys played with these for years. These wood thingies and the legos are the only toys that I savend for my eventual grandkids and little visitors.


Lieveheersbeestje August 29, 2016 at 2:07 am

And I also found Some good items there this year; a castiron wok (asian wide stirfry pan) for one euro, in the shops they start at 40… Also a big wooden cuttingboard new, one euro and a year of cooking magazines for 2 EUR..


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