If reality TV shows, such as American Pickers and Pawn Stars, were any indication, people have no clue what kind of priceless junk is lying around their homestead. As a buyer, that’s good news. You could score a valuable antique for pennies. As a seller, it means you have the potential to make significant cash simply by hosting a garage sale.
But why go through the hassle of planning a sale if you’re not going to do it right? Before you go displaying every single piece of unwanted junk on your driveway, you must know which items usually sell in minutes and which pieces you’ll be stuck hauling to Goodwill come Sunday evening. The average garage sale item sells for about 85 cents, but your items are better than that, right? Routine weekend sale hunters are savvy in their own rite, using hawk eyes to spot a yard sale gold mine. Knowing your audience is the key to raking in cold hard cash.
The strategy is two-fold. Sellers must appeal to the DIYers, the hagglers, and the historians. Buyers need a keen eye for the goods and an internal control switch to avoid the junk. Obviously, the more stuff you sell, the more money you’ll make. But unloading certain items will be especially beneficial to your wallet. Here are 15 popular items worth big money at garage sales.
15. Old games
Savvy shoppers, this one’s for you: Yard sales are the perfect opportunity to find items that can be flipped or refurbished online for more money than you paid originally. Old Super Mario Kart games can still be found at garage sales for a few bucks, but on eBay they go for at least $25, according to DealNews.
And remember that Lite Brite you were obsessed with years ago? It’s no longer in production, meaning the game’s value has skyrocketed. So if a moving sale is forcing families to rid themselves of these childhood toys, don’t pass up the opportunity to make big money. Lite Brites in good condition have a $75 resale value online.
Next: Frames attract DIYers.
14. Picture frames
Pinterest will give you a thousand ideas how to decorate a home with picture frames. But if you just can’t stand them taking up space any longer, clear out the family portraits, and sell the frames. Showcasing them in large boxes will attract DIYers, and they’ll likely snatch up a few at a time to take home and refurbish. My Frugal Home suggests sellers can charge anywhere from $5 to $20 for large frames in good condition.
Next: The deal about furniture at a yard sale
Not only is large furniture the perfect item to catch a passerby’s eye, it’s also a highly desired yard sale item. With the DIY and shabby chic movements as big as ever, old wooden furniture will most likely sell quickly at your event.
Bookshelves and chests are commonly remade into storage and coffee tables by creatives who see something special in your less-than-desired items. To make the most profit over the weekend, it helps to set a price. But be prepared to bargain with those interested in furniture pieces. The Spruce suggests building in an additional 15% to 20% on furniture pricing to account for haggling.
Next: Why you should hunt for vintage anything
12. Vintage dishes
There is, and always will be, a market for antiques. So branding your yard sale with the “A-word” pretty much guarantees you’ll draw a crowd. People are always seeking old dishes, kitchen gadgets, and serving platters that are better served as unique household decorations than everyday tools.
One New York family let a seemingly normal white ceramic bowl adorn their fireplace for years, never knowing it was worth millions. After purchasing it for chump change at a garage sale, they realized it was over a thousand years old and dated back to the Northern Song Dynasty. It sold at an auction for a cool $2.2 million dollars.
Next: Jewelry that’s back in style
11. Costume jewelry
Yard sale junkies are always hunting for jewelry that transports them back to another time. After all, flashy, ornate, and vintage jewelry are back in style. Consider selling your old brooches and necklaces for extra cash. DIY shoppers will either polish up the tarnished finds or melt them down to remake them into something new.
But before selling your jewelry, know some might be willing to pay more than the typical yard sale price if it’s truly vintage. Examine the pins and clasps on the pieces you’re selling — or buying — to help you date what you find on the hunt. This brooch guide from The Spruce will clue you in.
Next: Sell that old fishing gear.
10. Fishing rods
One way to make big money at your yard sale is to sell items that aren’t commonly seen at neighborhood tag sales. Aaron LaPedis, author of Garage Sale Millionaire, told Mint.com, “The most valuable items are a lot of things that people aren’t looking for. They’re unusual things, like tin toys and bamboo fishing rods and reels, which are non-mainstream antiques.”
Garage sale hosts should understand people are hunting for these specific rods for cheap. However, they’re attractive to collectors and could be worth more than you realize.
Next: Pay close attention to artwork for sale.
All that artwork taking up valuable attic space can be a big money maker at your next garage sale. Although those paintings might represent scribbled lines and dust collections to you, thrifty yard sale shoppers see dollar signs and are always hunting for artwork that could be worth something.
Looking to strike it rich? For one man, an unwanted yard sale purchase wound up being an invaluable Jackson Pollack original. And a $4 flee market find in Pennsylvania included a rare original copy of the Declaration of Independence in an old oil painting. Shrewd shoppers should never neglect the artwork sitting over in the corner. That historic $4 purchase sold for $2.42 million.
Next: Something for the outdoor enthusiasts
8. Camping gear
In your head, you’re an outdoor enthusiast who’ll become one with nature over a family camping trip. So, at the time, that outrageously expensive camping gear seemed that a wise investment. But there it sits, unopened by the bike rack that now supports your leaf blower.
Luckily, you might be able to get a least a sizable portion of your money back by selling this gear at your garage sale. Smart shoppers know these items are usually found in good condition after only being used a few times, so both parties win here. Sellers should advertise these products like crazy, and shoppers should be prepared to make a solid offer.
Next: Anything Americana
7. Americana decor and signs
A couple episodes of American Pickers or Antiques Roadshow will tell you any old-school Americana decor is bound to attract buyers from all over town. But be warned: Inauthentic Americana-themed products can be found in almost any retail store these days. The real money is made from antiquities with history. Vintage metal signs that say Texaco or Coca-Cola are a collector’s dream, and retro Harley Davidson antiques have become popular decorating choices.
Next: “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure” is for real.
6. Items by the box
Another yard sale strategy that’s an effective selling technique is to sell items by the box or bag. Cow Couple often employs a “grab bag approach,” meaning people can take home everything that fits in one bag for a set low price.
While this generally works to sell lots of clothing, it can also be used to move random junk that typically wouldn’t sell otherwise. And buyers should take the leap. A man in California bought a $5 box of documents without realizing he had a 1917 stock certificate for 1,625 shares of the Palmer Union Oil Company. (It later merged with a little company named Coca-Cola.) His tattered certificate entitled him to 1.8 million shares of Coke worth over $130 million.
Next: See what clothing items are popular with the yard sale groupies.
Trying to successfully buy or sell clothes at a yard sale is hit or miss. Displaying worn T-shirts and outdated sweaters are common sale blunders, but bulky and gently used jackets are usually mixed in with the stash. This is a jackpot find for both parties. Pay close attention to the name brand on jackets, as kid’s clothing is often sold once they get too small to wear. You could be able to snag a Columbia or North Face jacket for a fraction of the retail price if you’re willing to pick through the load.
People are like a moth to a flame when it comes to tools in working condition. Whether it be gardening trinkets or costly household tools, shoppers are more than willing to score a deal on secondhand equipment.
Buyers shouldn’t dismiss any tools that boasts minor damage. Wooden handles can be replaced for cheap, and sometimes lawn mowers just need a new belt to get working again. Ask questions about the condition of these tools. Then, make a fair offer accordingly.
Next: The deal about exercise equipment
3. Exercise equipment
Free weights and basic exercise equipment will be scooped up quickly, but older treadmills or elliptical machines might take a bit longer to sell. Luckily, there’s always someone in the neighborhood vowing to get healthier. So capitalize on their devoutness, and price your fitness items to sell.
If your old equipment is in questionable condition, it might be better served in the dumpster than the sale. Rickety eye sores aren’t a pleasant sight for roaming shoppers.
Next: Kitchen appliances that sell like hot cakes
Of course, your wedding registry included a KitchenAid mixer, a few blenders, a salad spinner, and a waffle iron. But after years of going unnoticed, it’s time to make a few extra bucks off these popular garage sale items. Even the most casual yard sale goers love kitchen appliances, and you could probably unload these pretty easily. Clean them up and have a power strip handy, so interested buyers can test their condition.
Next: Something every garage sale should have
1. Bottled water
Even if the browsers aren’t interested in any of your stuff, you can still ensure you didn’t waste a gorgeous weekend if you put out coolers of bottled water and soft drinks for sale. On a hot day, parents are more than ready to buy a can of Coke to distract their tired children. Add in some upbeat music, and you’ll entertain customers all day long.
Follow Lauren on Twitter @la_hamer.