Looking forward to garage sale season

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A garage or yard sale is an informal event where people display some used (and sometimes even unused) items in their garage or front yard for sale. In Manitoba, garage sale season is from spring to summer. Spring cleaning is often a good opportunity to get houses in order and weed out things that people don’t need anymore. And with the great weather, it is perfect to have items out in the open for people to come check out and choose from. You will start seeing signages and banners around the neighbourhood around late March or April announcing these events.

Garage sales are a great opportunity to get things like appliances, furniture, equipment, and other household or personal items at a lower cost. Sometimes, sellers also give away freebies to attract customers. If you’ve just arrived in Manitoba and are looking to furnish your home, a garage sale can be a practical source for you. It’s also a great way to meet your neighbours!

Some garage sale tips (for buyers):

  1. Be nice and friendly
    Make sure to greet the seller/s. Remember, they are your neighbours. Also, don’t criticize or complain about the merchandise, this is definitely impolite. Most items on sale are second-hand after all, so don’t expect them to be shiny and perfect.
  2. Double check items. Ask questions
    • Examine items closely for damage, missing parts, and for rust or molds.
    • Test electronics to see if they are working. Most sellers would be ready with batteries or a working electrical outlet.
    • If you are buying a more expensive item, like a bike or an exercise machine for example, ask the seller about frequency of usage, storage and the year they bought it. Sellers clean and polish these items so wear and tear may not be evident. It may give you more wiggle room to negotiate the price if the item was well-used or if the seller has had it for a long time.
    • It is important to have an idea of how much items originally sell for. Since you are a newcomer, you may not be familiar with market prices yet. You can check online or bring a friend with you who is more knowledgeable about prices of goods. This will help you gauge whether you are getting value for your money on certain items.
  3. Don’t buy these things
    As much as possible, don’t buy the following items:
    • Upholstered furniture, mattresses, bedsheets and stuffed toys – if they have been infested with insects or bedbugs, it will be hard to get rid of them from these items.
    • Old shoes and hats – accumulated sweat and dirt may not be worth the low price.
    • Underwear (including socks) and swim suits
    • Makeup – used or opened ones may harbor moulds and bacteria.
    • Items that have specifications in order to be effective – examples are helmets or child seats. Once these have been in an accident, they cannot be re-used.
  4. Haggling
    It is alright to negotiate prices in garage sales. Sometimes sellers even expect it, unless it is indicated in the price tag that the price is “firm” (or if it is already dirt cheap). Make sure that you give a reasonable bid and ask nicely. However, if the seller says no to the price you stated, be gracious about it. You can pass up or agree, but don’t get mad. Fighting about items in a garage sale is hardly worth your time.

    A good way to get a bigger discount is to group items and ask for a group price. Remember, sellers are trying to get rid of these items to declutter their homes. Any way you can make this happen faster will be welcomed.

  5. Return policy?
    It is understood that items bought at garage sales are “sold as is” which means that there are no returns or refunds. This is why it is important to check items thoroughly before you buy them so that you won’t be stuck with junk. However, there can be instances when an appliance worked and then malfunctioned when you got home. So always try out appliances or gadgets as soon as you get home. If in case they do not work, return the item as soon as possible. They may give you a refund, or at least give half of your money back. Don’t let two to three days pass. They can say that you broke or damaged the item yourself and refuse your claim.
  6. Best times to go
    Going to a garage sale as soon as it opens will allow you to have the best picks. However, going there on the last day before closing will give you better deals. Sellers will be more willing to part with the items than put them again in storage. So the best time to go actually depends on your needs. If you have a good idea of what you want to buy, go there early. You will have better chances of finding what you need. If you are just looking around for something that may catch your eye, go on the last day. And don’t forget to haggle.

Sources: The ultimate yard sale guide: All my yard sale tips to make the most money, Lynnette, Household Tips Guide; 21 things you should never buy at garage sales, Reader’s Digest. Accessed April 26, 2017.

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Community Resources

Do you need free or reasonably priced furniture, houseware, or clothes? We have compiled resources here: Do you need assistance for getting settled? Here’s where to get help.

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