#0078: Finding GREAT Items for Cheap at Garage Sales

In November 2005 – six months after I had graduated from Hampton University – I found myself back living at home with my Mom. I love my Mom to death, but as a grown man fresh out of college, being back at home felt like a step backwards…

By January 2006, I was low on funds and had about $15 left to my name.  In the course of looking up jobs in the newspaper one Sunday, I came across an ad in the Classified section of the Richmond Times-Dispatch:

“Cleaning out my house – $5 garage sale.  Everything being sold will be $5 or less.”

Now, I didn’t necessarily NEED anything (other than a job).  However, I have always been a person who looks for alternative ways to get money.  The way I saw it, I could go there, buy some $5 items that were actually worth MORE than the selling price, then go home and sell them on the eBay auction site.

And that’s what I did.  I took $12 and used my Mom’s car to go to the garage sale.  Sure enough, nothing in the lady’s house was above $5… and she had a LOT of good stuff: vacuum cleaners, books, electronic devices… it was practically a GOLD MIND!

Of course, with $12, I couldn’t buy all the stuff I wanted to buy. So, I purchased 3 to 5 things, gave the lady my money, then went home and placed the items on eBay.

Turns out, my plan was PERFECT: most of the stuff I purchased ended up selling for 2 to 3 times more than I paid for it.  Once all the items were sold, I ended up with $36.

Clearly, I was onto something that others had already figured out: garage sales are one of the BEST places to buy items for a bargain price!

Don’t believe me? Over the next 9 months I would go out to garage sales each weekend and buy items to re-sell on eBay.  While not every item I bought was a home run in terms of profit return, I’d say about 70% of my purchases usually resulted in me making more than what I paid for it.  Some of the highlights:

  • The stamp collection I purchased for $15 that sold for $187
  • The diabetes strips I bought for $50 that netted me almost $200
  • The various software purchases I’d make that ended up netting me WAY more money.  Example: I bought a legit version of Quickbooks for about $30 that sold for around $150
  • The set of China I bought for $70 that sold for $175
  • The huge lot of books I bought for $20 that sold for about $90
  • The two Verizon LG phones I bought from a doctor who couldn’t use them because the place her family had moved to couldn’t get reception.  Purchase: $75 TOTAL for both phones.  Selling price: around $140 PER PHONE.

By September 2006, I had made enough money to buy a used car, put aside 2 months rent on a new apartment in Atlanta, and move out of my Mom’s house.  All because I decided to get up a little early each weekend and hit up some garage sales for high-end items at low prices!

Ah, finding great items for cheap at garage sales… now THAT’S something to be thankful for!

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