Looking forward to garage sale season

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Garage sales are now allowed with the easing of COVID restrictions in the province. Nevertheless, guidelines regarding group sizes (50 people max) and physical distancing should still be observed. Frequent hand sanitation/washing is recommended.

What is a garage sale?

A garage or yard sale is an informal event where used items are sold. Homeowners hold this in their garage or front yard. Garage sale season is from spring to summer.

It is a good option if you want to buy household or personal items at a lower cost. It’s also a great way to meet your neighbours!

Garage sale tips

  1. Follow rules

    Sellers may have new ways to sell because of the pandemic. Some are displaying their items online and setting up appointments before one can see them in person. This ensures that items won’t be frequently touched and group size limits are observed. Know and follow such rules to ensure safety.

  2. Be nice and friendly

    Greet the sellers and make small talk but always observe physical distancing. Ask politely about the goods. It is impolite to criticize or complain loudly about the items on sale. These are used goods -don’t expect them to be shiny and perfect.

  3. Double check items and ask questions.

    • Check items for damage, missing parts or for rust or mold.
    • Ask to test electronics. Sellers will have batteries or an electrical outlet.
    • Ask questions when buying more expensive items. Know the year they bought it or how often they’ve used it (for example for a bike or an exercise machine). You’ll be able to negotiate the price better if the item was well-used or if they’ve had it for a long time.
    • Know the original price of goods. This will help you know if you are getting value for your money. Check online, bring a friend with you to help, or ask the seller.
  4. Don’t buy these things

    • Upholstered furniture, mattresses, bedsheets and stuffed toys may be infected with bedbugs or other insects.
    • Old shoes and hats may have collected sweat.
    • Underwear (including socks) and swim suits.
    • Used cosmetics (make-up) can have molds and bacteria.
    • Helmets and child seats may have been in an accident and cannot be re-used. Sports gear that are too used or damaged can lead to injuries.
  5. Haggling

    Haggling is ok. But don’t negotiate the price when they say that it’s firm, if they don’t allow low-ball offers, or if the item is already very cheap. Give a reasonable bid and ask nicely. Don’t get mad when the seller refuses your request. If you want a big discount, get a group of items and suggest a price. Remember that the sellers are trying to declutter their homes. You will be making it easier for them to do so.

  6. Return policy?

    There are no returns or refunds in garage sales. Make sure to check items completely before buying them. Test appliances as soon as you get home. If it doesn’t work, return it as soon as possible. The seller may give you a refund or half of your money back. But don’t let two to three days pass. They can say that you broke the item yourself.

  7. Best times to go

    The best time to go depends on your needs. Go there early if you know what you want to buy. There will be more items to choose from and the possibility of getting what you want is high. Go on the last day if you just want to look around and get a good deal. You can haggle for the lowest prices on the last day because sellers wouldn’t want to put items back in their homes or in storage.

Article updated May 28, 2020.
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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