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The Best Things to Buy at a Garage or Yard Sale for Resale

I am a website developer, eBay trading assistant, work-at-home mum, writer and crafter.

Garage sale resale items

Garage sale resale items

What to Look For at Garage Sales to Resell

You've just seen the local paper and mapped out your plan of attack. The anticipation of what bargains will be dug up at the day's yard sales is building. With a pocket full of change, an empty car boot, and a keen eye, you venture out for an exciting day.

What antiques will be found? What can be purchased for pennies and resold online to make money? Will there be collectables? Maybe some great novels to read or maybe a shabby chic frame to do up for a mother's day present.

Shabby Chic

"Shabby chic" is a design term for furniture or furnishings (including frames, throws, mirrors and serving trays) that have an appearance of age or show signs of wear and tear. Often, new items are re-decorated with a 'distressed' look to give them their antique appeal.

If shabby chic is your style, your passion, or you love decorating, then garage sales are your ultimate 'store'. Buy items, give them the shabby chic touch and resell them online.

What a fantastic work from home idea!

  • Frames: paint them, decorate them, mosaic them, cover with fabric – whatever you choose, you will save a fortune buying secondhand.
  • Serving trays: repainting a wooden serving tray and lining it with some gorgeous fabric (which you can also buy at a garage sale) or paper can make a great addition to your home or a gift.
  • Old Furniture: give old chairs a new life as a planter box in your garden

Movies, Books & Music

Kids love watching movies. It does not matter whether the Wizard of Oz is playing on DVD or the beloved old VHS; it is still the Wizard of Oz. Sure it may not be digital, surround sound or 3D, but the simple enjoyment is still there.

If you still have an old video player lying around that works, buy movies.

  • Garage sales are a fantastic place to pick up bundles of old movies for next to nothing. If you wanted to resell an old classical movie find, it should be watched in its entirety to ensure there are no warped parts.

How about books?

If you or your children are bookworms, a garage sale will surely be your best friend. You can always find novels, kids' books, sometimes old magazines, reference books and even the old textbook.

  • Books sell online - so do collectable magazines and comics, particularly if you can find them in a series or set, so dig deep into the pile.

Cassettes, if you remember them, are classical buys to sell to collectors online.

  • Listen to the entire cassette to make sure it is not damaged.
  • Collectable vinyl records, cassette tapes and DVDs are a dime a dozen at garage sales.
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Read More From Toughnickel

If you are a fan of game consoles, keep a keen eye out for the classical Atari console or any of their cartridge games. These are collectables and are fantastic items to buy and resell.

Items never to buy from a garage sale

Items never to buy from a garage sale

Resell Books Online

There are many successful second-hand book businesses on eBay

  • Comics
  • Vintage children's books
  • A book series
  • Autobiographies

Books sell in bulk also, so if you find a great bundle of science fiction books, cookbooks or romance stories (for example), sell them together.

  • How-to books and D.I.Y. guides are also good sellers

What Not to Buy From a Yard Sale

When browsing your next yard sale, be aware of

There will still be hundreds of other brilliant finds which you can either keep yourself or resell online to make money. Buying items at a garage sale to sell on eBay is a fantastic way that many people earn money from home as a business.

How to find clothing to buy and resell online

How to find clothing to buy and resell online


Buying garments from a garage sale can be a very profitable exercise.

Vintage clothing can be considered classical. In many cases some pieces are timeless and finding a gorgeous two-piece knit set, a dress, skirt or some accessories can be very lucrative if re-selling them online is your intention.

Modern, trendy garments, are great sellers online however more money is made if they are brand name items.

Some items for sale may require a little love and care, a needle and thread or a complete overhaul, whilst others may be in perfect condition. Regardless prices are always good, and bargains are to be had.

Just make sure you check for holes, perspiration odours (particularly in jackets), and wear and tear on seams. A missing button can be added at a later date but a broken zip may be too difficult.

Be wary of personalised clothing, however. They rank very highly in the list of items not to buy from a garage sale; this includes shoes.

Do You Have a Green Thumb?

Often pots, plants, shrubs and gardening items are popular bargains at garage sales. If you are lucky enough to have a green thumb, then take the time to dig through the plants for sale.

Whilst something may look like a weed to one person, you may identify it as a lovely orchid leaf, the beginnings of a red hibiscus or a carnation plant, so snap it up and bring it back to life.

Even second-hand gardening tools can be a great find. A little oil here and there, a clean, and they can become very workable for you. Probably not the most suitable for resale, but you never know.

If you are handy in the workshop, a lawnmower may be bought for pennies and resold for a nice profit. Consider your options.


Who doesn't love a good roll of gorgeous fabric. It is so versatile. And if you are a crafty person looking for a work at home idea this is the perfect place to shop. A garage sale.

You can make almost anything and everything:

  • Cover cushions
  • Throw rugs
  • Cover a plain canvas and decorate
  • Clothes, including dolls clothing
  • Bibs
  • Baby blankets
  • Quilt covers
  • And the list goes on

Sometimes the odd vintage garment (dare I say it) makes for a perfect piece of fabric for recycling and re-crafting into something new.

Even vintage doilies can be re-crafted into something special.

Collectables for Resale Online

Keep a close eye out for collectables at garage sales. You know the line, one man's trash is another man's treasure.

These items are big sellers online if the right item is found and the right buyer is in need:


  • Check condition of toys, dolls, action figures or boxed sets
  • Check for authenticity if possible via markings - year of manufacture or number.
  • Check for complete sets of lego, board games or activity sets.

Key Rings, Badges and Pins:

  • Memorabilia is a big seller. Look for key rings, badges or pins from a sporting event, a historical figure or a classical brand (i.e. Coca-Cola).
  • If they are truly antique there may be rust; that is OK.


  • Unless you have a trained eye, finding an antique bowl amongst a table full of bowls could take hours. But it is worth a quick glance.
  • Vintage cameras are a great buy too.


  • Look out for charms, lockets, broaches or chains - some may be able to be melted down if they are genuine.

Christmas, Halloween or Party Decorations

Find a box full of old decorations? Go digging. You may find some great bits and pieces for next year's Christmas tree or Halloween dress-ups. Don't discount anything.

Party lights, decorations or bits and pieces to create a theme.

Keep your eyes and mind open.

So Many Options!

There are endless items that can be purchased at a garage sale. Belts, handbags and even the odd vase or two. All are potentially re-sellable.

Comical items include cards, placemats, dress-up costumes and ashtrays.

Have fun shopping at a garage sale.

You'll buy some 'lemons', and you'll strike gold.

Enjoy your next garage sale.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2012 WorkAtHomeMums


Catherine on November 07, 2018:

I have discovered the joys of giving furnishings new life just this summer and I LOVE it!

John Ferris from Montana on February 20, 2014:

You have gotten my mind going for the upcoming spring/summer garage sale season. I appreciate the tips for finding things to sell on eBay. I am running out of things to sell in my basement! Thanks a lot and I will be sure to read more of your hubs.

Hawaiian Odysseus from Southeast Washington state on July 12, 2012:

Fascinating Hub on a common neighborhood theme. I learned a good deal from it. Thanks so much for sharing! I'm putting some of these great tips to use this coming weekend. Voted up, useful, and interesting!

WorkAtHomeMums (author) from Australia on April 22, 2012:

Believe it or not it is how many successful online traders operate. I myself have purchased many antiques, brand new with tag items and collectables at op shops. Brand name designer clothes too. Garage sales are even better though as prices are far cheaper. If you shop at op shops you'll get to know the days they place new stock on the floor so get in fast :)

Sif on April 22, 2012:

I have never considered buying from garage sales and op shops to resell. This was an interesting read!

WorkAtHomeMums (author) from Australia on April 19, 2012:

Thank you for your input. :)

RichardPac from Sunny Florida! on April 19, 2012:

I was a "professional Ebay'er" for quite awhile, and can attest to your solid tips. I didn't much care for the clothing aspect of the trade, but found that many books and movies were easily resell-able online.

WorkAtHomeMums (author) from Australia on April 19, 2012:

Great tip. Thanks for sharing that!!

Leni Sands from UK on April 19, 2012:

This is another really useful. I think I am going to enjoy reading more of your hubs and learning from you about ebay, etc.

I frequently go to garage sales. Car boot sales are very popular here in the UK. I love rummaging around in the boxes to see what magical finds there are. I will keep a list in my pocket from now on of the types of things to look out for.

Just for the record - Vintage hats, handbags and purses are other things to look out for, they've usually been stashed away still in their boxes and wrapped in tissue in granny's attic and once I found some really vintage stockings as new in their packets. At the car boot sales Look for the sellers that look like they are house clearing...there are usually some real bargains to be had there.

Voted up useful and interesting.

WorkAtHomeMums (author) from Australia on April 18, 2012:

Enjoy and hope you find some fun and useful items. Come back and share with me please I'd love to know :)

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on April 18, 2012:

I use to go to garage sells a lot, but not so much lately. After reading your hub I am ready to go again. I love finding bargains. Up and useful.

WorkAtHomeMums (author) from Australia on April 17, 2012:

you are very welcome. hope it all works out. I have heaps of ebay hints also in some hubs if you choose to sell them on ebay. good luck!!

Tonette Fornillos from The City of Generals on April 17, 2012:

These suggestions are great! I think the shabby chic idea can be a thousand fold. I have a file of old cassette tapes from childhood and been wondering how to recycle them. I'm not sure how else can they be useful. But thanks for all your suggestions, I'm definitely trying all of them. Yes online!

Interesting and useful hub, THANK YOU!

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