Garage Sales vs Estate Sales

Today was an odd shopping day for me.  I did not get a chance to pull my usual estate sale list from Craigslist, so I left the house on a wing and a prayer.  Of course, it's always fun to adventurously drive down the main thoroughfare, keeping my eyes peeled for bits of paper taped or stapled to street signs leading the way down streets and roads on a quest for Goodies.

This kind of expedition is best shared with a friend who rides shotgun as you careen wildly from right lane to left at that last-minute spotting of a badly written Yard Sale sign.

No, these days I mix business with pleasure in an effort to add monetary treasure to the family coffers, so I must be more organized.  And so I present my evaluation of the pros and cons of Garage Sales vs. Estate Sales.

Garage sales are adventurous.  They are spontaneous. They can lead you all over the county: two, even, as you follow the signs like a connect-the-dot puzzle across the map. This method is covered in Indiana Jones movies as well as the (most recently viewed in my home) animated film "The Emperor's New Groove."  Garage sales have the best prices, hands down, unless the proprietor forgets that he/she is running a GARAGE SALE and think that he/she is in fact running an ANTIQUE STORE.  The people at garage sales tend to be friendlier, too, although as we all know, results may vary.

On the other hand, with garage sales you never know what you are going to when you drive down the street following the signs.  I was at a "Block Sale" this morning that consisted of three houses, one of whom clearly only decided this morning to throw a few pieces of  junk on the driveway as a way of "participating".

Garage saling is a form of gambling; you don't know when you throw the dice whether you are going to win or lose. Sometimes a garage sale is beautifully marked and there are 17 signs bringing you in to a pile of baby clothes and a rattle thrown on the lawn, and other times you have one badly written address and a pencil-thin arrow on a piece of typing paper and you have to map it out and consult with your psychic to find the amazing artifacts some guy finally decided to drag out of his garage.

(I'm just kidding, by the way.  I don't do psychics.)

Estate sales have great advantages to someone in my position.  They are usually advertised and organized and you can find many things at one or two locations.  More than once I have completed the bulk of my shopping at one or two estate sales. The last day of the sale can be especially lucrative as prices get slashed steeply.

On the other hand, estate sales are often run by professionals, who are courteous but not particularly friendly (again, results vary), and price the items much higher than a small-time dealer like myself might be inclined to pay. You also aren't very likely to find kids' clothing and such that I prefer to pick up at garage sales as part of my theory on dressing children (more about that later).

The pinnacle of all sales, however, is the hybrid estate sale/garage sale.  These are the places where the proprietors simply don't want to be bothered with the effort of organizing an estate sale or hiring someone to run it and simply want to fling open the garage door and let the vultures flock in.  I don't feel guilty getting a deal at these sales: they wanted to save the hassle of taking the time to do it professionally and want to get it over with quickly.  I am simply there to assist them in their goal.  Time is money, and the time that I spend digging for these treasures is rewarded with a discount on the purchase price.

All that being said, I did in fact find some goodies today that you will be seeing in my etsy shop shortly... and my kids will love their brand-new-in-box 65-cent Matchbox cars!


  1. haha! So true! I prefer the pricing at garage sales...but auctions are where it's at!! Sadly you end up with boxes of stuff you do and don't want. It is a slippery little slope we work with, eh?

  2. I absolutely agree!, You explained the difference quite well, I too love the mix of the two, they are the best,and the greatest finds are usually the overlooked things we have to dig to find that the hosts could care less about but to us are treasures. Which reminds me I've got to check my I think I'll browse around on Craigslist too..Thanks for the reminder, I ad forgot about that one:o) ...Shame on me, I've been slacking

  3. Hi Girls,
    Sorry for the delay in responding, my notifications don't seem to be working properly!

    garagesalegirly, I confess I am too much of an amateur for auctions. I also will admit that I also fear that I would go crazy and bid on something until I paid $200 for a fork. This is why I don't dare do anything in Vegas other than the nickel slots!

    Elizabeth, I had only just heard about, I must check them out! That's what I love about the vintage community... we don't really compete because we all sell such different things... so what's the point??




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