15 things you should always buy at garage sales
Garage sales are the ultimate form of recycling.
Whether your neighbor peddles a collection of souvenir spoons on their lawn or your church has collected donations from worshipers for a fundraiser, you can dig up some hidden gems.
Plus, give yourself a pat on the back: Giving these items new life will likely save the waste from filling up a landfill.
Here’s a rundown of things you’d be smart to grab at the next garage sale you visit.
1. Le Creuset and Pyrex
Not all of us are educated on many cookware lines, but Le Creuset cookware and Pyrex glassware are worth a little research.
Both are wanted for resale – I quote them in “21 Thrift Store Gems You Can Cash In On”. Or, you can incorporate them into your own kitchen stock.
2. Picture frames
You can print your digital photos or artwork inexpensively, but the cost of frames can block even the best gallery wall intentions.
Instead, look for frames at garage sales.
3. Specialized devices
Single-use devices are so tempting. You can almost convince yourself that you will be using this cake maker or hot dog cooker regularly. And maybe you would.
But don’t splurge on a new one when you can grab your neighbor’s barely used gadget for a tenth of the price.
Who knows, making jelly might just become your jam.
Brace yourself: Legos have been popular for generations. Kids love them and adults – if they admit it – often find plastic bricks fascinating and fun too.
You can’t buy a complete set of NASA space shuttles at a yard sale, but a giant crate of mixed bricks should assemble hours of fun.
5. Recipe boxes
Cookbooks and online cooking sites are tasty, but there’s something about a neatly organized flip-top box filled with handwritten recipes.
Grandma’s famous Christmas cookies, award-winning recipes that mom meticulously plucked from her hometown newspaper, dad’s deviled egg secret – every family’s treasured treats are special.
You won’t get rich buying these valuable collections, but the thrill of browsing through another family’s delicious diary is worth it.
Never pay full price for a basket: garage sales and thrift stores have enough for an army of little red riding hoods.
I like to pick them up cheaply and save them for teacher gifts, filling them with favorite snacks and a nice bottle of wine.
7. Exercise Equipment
Are you determined to get in shape, but don’t want to go to a health club?
Don’t worry: It’s likely that someone with big intentions bought an exercise bike or other workout equipment, then sat on the couch and didn’t use it. Make their physical condition fail your main finding.
8. Certain baby items
Don’t pick up a used car seat or crib, as we detail in “10 Things No One Should Ever Buy Used.”
But it’s usually fine to buy things like baby clothes, strollers, and second-hand bassinets. And the price is a real pacifier.
9. Travel guides
Are you heading to Barcelona? Heading to Hawaii? There are many travel guides online, but a good, solid travel guide often helps.
Here’s the advice of a savvy traveler: the history, maps, and basic information about an area may stay the same for decades, but if you buy a guidebook that’s more than a few years old, check that the hotels and restaurants are still in operation before you show up to one. Have a good trip!
10. Sports equipment
Of course, Olympians don’t pick up their ice skates or soccer knee pads at garage sales. But backyard athletes and beginner kids should make it their goal to get some sports accessories there.
They are often only rarely used.
11. Halloween costumes
Get spooked this Halloween by shopping for second-hand costumes — whether kid-sized or adult-sized — at garage sales.
They are often barely worn and horribly cheap.
12. Fancy clothes
Wedding dresses, ball gowns, lapel tuxedos that span an entire continent – evening wear is a yard sale favorite.
Not everyone wants to be Molly Ringwald in “Pretty in Pink” redoing a vintage ballgown, but throw-on duds will delight kids with princess dreams.
Or use them for Halloween costumes. You won’t feel guilty splashing fake blood on a $5 wedding dress to create a zombie bridal ensemble.
13. Children’s musical instruments
Not all children are Prince-like prodigies. Many of us were pressured into taking music lessons, then abruptly left the school band and shoved that barely used clarinet under the bed for the next decade.
You might not find the best quality musical instruments at garage sales, but at garage sale prices your young Mozart may not mind.
14. Pulp Fiction
No, not the 1994 Quentin Tarantino movie, but pulp paperbacks – cheap reads with grim, colorful covers.
A good pulp makes a juicy buy – whether you want to frame the cover, read the book, resell it, or give it as a gift to a white elephant.
15. Vintage board games
Everyone has Monopoly, but not everyone owned the wonderfully goofy Mystery date game – in which players opened a plastic door, hoping the good hunk was waiting.
A vintage board game might make a perfect gift for that friend who helped you survive the 70s. But beware: there are probably some missing pieces.
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