Turning Garage Sale Finds Into Online Gold

Jul 16, 2012 1:49pm

For a lot of people out there, garage sale treasure hunting is more than a hobby. It’s big business. Our “Found Money” segment on “Good Afternoon America” shows how to turn garage sale finds into pure online gold.

Author of “Garage Sale America,” Bruce Littlefield  joined us in the “GAA” studio Monday to highlight some of the garage sale treasures he bought for less than $25, which are now going for much more on eBay. And just for our “GAA” viewers, Littlefield also provided extra tips on how to score the best deals while hunting for home goods.

Littlefield’s Items for Less than $25:

Vintage Antique Badminton Racquets

Littlefield paid: $2 for all eight racquets

Listed on eBay: $10 each

Littlefield says they’d be great as a collection on a kid’s room wall.

Splatterware Enamelware Pitcher

Littlefield paid: $1

Listed on eBay: $39.99

Littlefield suggests adding flowers in the pitcher as an excellent hostess gift.

Vintage Bocce Ball Set

Littlefield paid: $3 for the set

Listed on eBay: $34.95

Littlefield says this find is priceless because of the hours of fun it’s provided this summer.

Hand-woven Willow Hoop Handle Gathering Basket

Littlefield paid: $5

Listed on eBay: $59.99

Littlefield suggests this is a great find for harvesting your vegetables.

Vintage Oster Airjet Hair Dryer

Littlefield paid: $2

Listed on eBay: $9.99

Littlefield thinks it’s a fun, thoughtful gift for your stylist.

Set of 8 Chic Mid-Century “Mad Men” Glasses

Littlefield paid: $8

Spotted at a gallery in Soho for: $225

Littlefield says this was his ultimate “squeal moment.” The retro, ’60s style has made a huge comeback, thanks to the hit show  ”Mad Men.” A set of eight makes the perfect party favor!

Littlefield’s List of Do’s and Don’ts for Buyers:

Do …

-Go early for the best stuff, late for the best bargains.

-Pack a tape measure, something to wrap breakables  in and a bottle of water.

-Park appropriately (not in the flower bed or the neighbor’s yard).

-Walk back to your car, if you pass people walking away from a garage sale without anything in their hands.

-Look past the dust and dirt.  Beauty is more than surface deep.

-Think about a new use for an old item.

-Pick it up if you’re interested in it.  If it’s still on the table, it’s still fair game.

-Ask questions.

-Buy it if you like it or if it reminds you of someone you like.

-Ask, “What’s your best price?” followed by, “How much if I buy all this stuff?”

-Ask other buyers if they’ve been to other good sales and share what you know.

-Realize that fancier neighborhoods have fancier stuff.

-Keep moving.  You can’t see everything, and you want to hit as many sales as you can.

Don’t …

-Be pushy.

-Call your friend to check eBay or book value.

-Buy it just because it’s cheap.

-Buy things that need fixing, unless you’re really going to fix it.

-Buy things that might be dangerous to you or someone you love.

-Buy damaged goods if you’re going to resell.

-Assume that all the pieces are there in an opened 500-piece puzzle.

-Be guaranteed that something is “authentic,” unless you’re an expert.

-Ask to use their bathroom.

-Nickel and dime.  If something is a nickel, don’t offer a penny.

-Try to return something after you’ve driven off with it.

Littlefield’s 10 Steps to a Good Deal:

  1. Build a relationship with the seller.  A little humor while shopping goes a long way.  People want to sell to people they like.
  2. Make a reasonable offer based on what you know you can pay.  (Offering $1 on an item priced $20 is insulting and will probably breed ill will.)
  3. After getting a feel for the pricing structure, gather your items before asking the seller for a group price.
  4. Keep your poker face on, and by all means don’t start drooling.
  5. Decide what you can live without before you negotiate.
  6. Ask for the seller’s “best price” or “would you take x?” rather than insulting the seller’s price or saying, “I can get it elsewhere for less.”
  7. Negotiate a compromise.  For example, if you have $100 in your pocket and the “best price” is $125, ask if it could be done for that.
  8. If the seller insists on $125, show your money, and ask what your $100 could buy.
  9. Hope the dealer says, “You can have it all.”
  10.  Either pay the agreed on price, dump the less desired items, or be prepared to walk away.
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