Garage sales (also known as Yard Sales) are one of the best ways to find items to sell on Amazon that have a really high ROI (Return On Investment). Today, I’m going to share with you an ongoing series of garage sale tips and tricks that I’ve learned from years of garage sale shopping. During this ongoing series, I’ll be offering you general strategies, specific tips, items to be on the lookout for, and mistakes not to make. We’ll talk about how to get the most bang out of your time and money.
Today’s tip is one that has made me a lot of money:
Don’t judge a garage sale by its driveway.
How many times have you driven up to a garage sale, looked at what is presented on the driveway, and totally dismissed that sale? I’ve done it many times. I think to myself, “This one’s a dud — I’m not going to waste my time even getting out of the car.”
BUT NOT ANYMORE! One of the things that really stood out to me in Chris Green’s book, Arbitrage, is to not be the lazy competition. Lazy equals less money. So now I always get myself out of the car and spend a few minutes exploring the whole garage sale. Sure, there have been many times that I judged a garage sale by its driveway and have been proven correct, BUT there have also been many times when I assumed the place was a dud and have walked away with hundreds of dollars of potential profit.
Take the 2 minute gamble
One time I drove up to a garage sale, and it looked like all they were selling were clothes. I saw baby clothes, kid clothes, and adult clothes. I saw boxes under the tables overflowing with even more clothes. I saw nothing else. I really just wanted to move on to my next stop. But I didn’t. I decided to take a 2 minute gamble, got out of my car, and inspected the garage sale. I was overjoyed to find that in a few of those boxes under the table were 100+ teacher and education books. I ended up buying 36 books at $0.50 each with a potential profit of $300! I almost drove past hundreds of dollars!
Another time, I drove past a garage sale that wasn’t even on my route. When I drove past this garage sale, all I saw was big furniture out in the driveway. If it weren’t for the garage sale sign in their front yard, I would have assumed they were moving. Again, the thought entered my mind to just move on, but I didn’t entertain that thought for long. I turned around and stopped and was so glad I did. In the garage, stacked over to the side, were some brand new (still sealed) board games. I was able to pick them up for $2 each and sell them for $150 profit.
I have more stories, but I think you get the idea. Needless to say, I don’t think I’ll judge a garage sale by its driveway again.
So what about you? Have you ever made an assumption about a garage sale simply by your view from the driver’s seat? Did any of you find some amazing things when you took that 2 minute gamble to get out and take a look? I’d love to hear your stories in the comments below.
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This weekend I hit several G sales, but one I looked at & kept on driving. Later, I felt I shouldn’t have done that. I won’t in the future!
Good reminder–thanks, Stephen!
I look forward to reading your blogs but this one tip is huge for me. I am just starting and I frequent several garage sales and I have to say I have eyeballed and passed by because of how the driveway looks. Never Again!!!!
I’m glad to have saved you from missing some great items. Email me when you find something awesome from a garage sale you would have usually just passed by.
Stephen – great blog.
I’m curious how you know what items to get at a garage sale. How do you ascertain what the profit margins are, without being able to scan them?
Rob, most of the items I’m buying at a garage sale are items I scan with my sourcing app on my smartphone. Other items without a barcode I look up up on the ebay app to see if it sells there.
Stephen, you are so on point. Recently my husband and I pulled up to a garage sale in the afternoon when many people are usually packing up (especially in Miami, because of the heat), and took a chance. The home owners were moving away and literally gave us some valuable books and board games for free. They were just too tired to take them back inside. We were in the right place at the right time. I also use a sourcing app when I am buying, but “free” I just take them home and decide later.
I always find your posts very informative. Thanks
Yes!!! That’s awesome! Love to hear stories like this.
Hey Stephen I have a question.
How do I find Keepa for my phone? I cannot find it. Also when you list board games and books on Amazon do you personally list them or do you use the listing that already comes up for your board game/book that Amazon provides after scanning it?
You can find Keepa on the Scoutify App (that comes with Inventory Lab). You can also just use your phone’s internet browser and type in Keepa in the search bar.
And I always use the original listing on Amazon as long as it’s a perfect match.
Cat Montrose says
We have a huge antique consignment store here. There’s all sorts of interesting old things. Has anyone tried photographing some items in a shop then posting it for sale, then buying the item only if a buyer is found? Will this work?
It could… but not worth the risk (in my mind) of someone buying it online and then it already be sold at the consignment store. Also, not worth it to me to spend the time making a listing for something I might not ever sell… but that’s just me. YMMV.
Sue Ellen McGoey says
Almost passed on a sale one-time,was a trailer from 1950,all I saw were piles of clothes.
As it was 90 degrees I thought about skipping this one.
Then said to myself I will take a quick look.
Picked up a couple Halloween costumes,that I sold for good profit.
But the gem was a jadeite coffee canister for 2$,in immaculate condition,made by Jeanette glass,and very rare in any condition!
Sells for 150$
Now I always take at least a stroll around.
I love hearing stories like this! Way to go!
Susan Hicks says
Is garage sales only for beginner online marketing or do some people do this all the time. Are there more profitable ways
Garage sales are great for beginners, but I know some people who do garage sales full time and make a great income. Other profitable ways are retail arbitrage, online arbitrage, and wholesale.
Josh Lake says
Yes I did. I pulled into a garage sale that at first site looked like a dud. They had 2 tables out mostly with clothes. But instead or backing out of the driveway and leaving, I decided to pull in and take a quick look. Glad I did. Off to the side there were about 3 or 4 book cases full of books, mostly education and law books. The person running the sale wanted to get rid of them and gave them all to me for $2. There was almost 100 books I ended up making over $300 with.
I’m new to Amazon selling and came across your blog. Quick question–when you went to these garage sales, did you try scanning the items before buying them to see if they’d sell on Amazon? If not, how did you know if they’d sell or not?
I don’t buy anything unless I know it will sell on Amazon… so I use the Scoutify app to know my profits and how soon I expect it to sell. Find out more here: https://www.fulltimefba.com/scoutify
What are your tips for a newbie when everything I find that seems to be profitable is now gated on Amazon. I found some nice, brand new, still in the plastic, puzzles. They would’ve sold for a small profit, but toys are gated for me. I found outdoor grill covers and tools…once again….gated. Clearanced brand new HBA items….gated. I feel defeated and I barely got started.
Stephen Smotherman says
Great questions…. Here is a video I put together for this: https://www.fulltimefba.com/getapprovednow
Most garage sales I go to, I find used board games. How do you know that
all the pieces are there in used board games?
It would seem that it would take a long time to check each game?
How do you know that all the pieces are included?
Stephen Smotherman says
You can look at the board game instruction sheet and usually that will tell you the board game contents. Then you just check. For profitable board games, it’s worth taking 90 seconds to check the contents. But if there are any missing pieces, you can buy replacement parts of ebay most of the time. I’ve done that many times. I’ll buy a board game for $2, spend about $10 to replace missing pieces, and then sell the completed board game on Amazon for $60. Totally worth the little time and effort. I go into more details of that here: https://www.fulltimefba.com/boardgames