Two of my friends have preschoolers and they have asked me to look for clothing for them. My friend Lisa has twins and her son has cerebral palsy and it is not easy to get out with the wheelchair and the demands of therapy and working, it is my privilege to be able to help shop for Nick and Sophia. My frugal friend has a daughter called this morning asking me to look for size 5 girl clothing and has to work and has given me a list to what to focus on. My other friend called adding to my list with her 5 adopted children who we moved to Lancaster to retire from Minneapolis and her three grandchildren's needs. At least my friends reimburse me for the purchases.
I sold retail children's clothing while my older kids were tiny and worked for an exclusive children's wear retailer and this is my forte. I have almost every size of girls covered from newborn to teen 5's between my three friends, my granddaughters, and my girls. I have to look for only 3 boys, but 12 girls. I love to use my talents to help others, and this way I can enjoy finding the best for those I care about. Besides I get bored out here in the country and need something to do.
I will look for vintage items to try my hand at ebay for giggles, now that I have honed my computer and digital skills. Maybe it will help support my bargain hunting budget. I always have my eyes peeled for Legos for Nate, and we are now looking for Duplos for his collection when he has kids. The girls and I collect American Girls items and also dollhouses. Oh yes, I better look for CD's for Doc and watch for something he may like or he will be feeling left out.
With assignments and notes in hand, I will head out this afternoon beginning in earnest my garage sale shopping for today. Tomorrow is a citywide in a neighboring small town and later in the day a half dozen or so here in town. Next week is the Lancaster citywide, and the following Friday and Saturday the Platteville citywide (pop 10,000). Last year I implemented that I could not drive out of town for just one sale, I had to maximize the trip to make it worthwhile. Combining it to running to Walmart or errands to justify the gasoline and my time.
I have also found that opening times here mean nothing, they may open whenever... I just have to be there hours early, checking back when they open later in the day, or be up with the farmers as sales open at 7 am. I have had to learn the art of our community on how it all works.
But rural prices are amazing compared to the city, but I also can find many vintage finds as they reuse things for generations. A great mix of new and old. Today it is my hobby, my passion but for years it kept my kids well clothed and my kids and daycare stocked with the best of the best learning toys.
Garage Sale Hints
- Stick to a budget. Make sure you have cash, few places will take a check anymore.
- Be there early for the best finds.
- Check Newspapers or Craigslist for the ad to find the sales that most meet your needs and mark them first to visit.
- Make a map, mapquest, and organize the trip to maximize time and gasoline.
- Use your GPS with finding a certain address saving time and gas driving.
- Keep a notebook of the addresses that are great sales for the future.
- If you want something and don't have enough cash, ask the seller to hold it with a small deposit while I run to the ATM. Make sure you get a receipt for the downpayment.
- If it is early in the sale, sellers usually will not barter on the price. Check back if you think the item is overpriced later in the sale and make an offer.
- It it is something you want, and are unsure, if you pass it up as it will probably not be there when you return. I tend to kick myself when I do this, I should have just bought it, and if it wasn't quite right, I can resell it later.
- Keep a list of items that you are looking for.
- I buy ahead when I find quality kids clothing for frugal prices and keep color coded bins of the next couple of sizes ahead.
- Know your merchandise and prices, and resale values.
- Know your kids like for style colors, fabrics and have a needs list to not overbuy.
- Check out the free boxes for missing pieces of toys, miscellaneous or for treasure finds to occupy your kids while you shop.
- Inexpensive stuffed animals are much cheaper than expensive dog toys. I have a bag of dime or quarter animals for our mutts to play with watching to not find ones with small pieces that can choke them.
- I gave my kids a quarter or a dollar for them to practice making their own purchases and learning the art of finding what they want or need. If they spent it in the beginning they had to pass things they "wanted" later learning the lesson of not having money to buy what you find later.
- Quality repairable items will be very inexpensive and can save even more money. Holey jeans can be cut off and hemmed up for summer shorts. Columbia and Jansport items with broken zippers can be mailed in and repaired for free as they have lifelong guarantees.
- Newer Fisher Price, Little Tikes, Step 2 Items which parts are missing or broken can be purchased from the company.
- Be aware of recalls on Children's and Baby Equpment. Not all secondhand items are safe.
- Sometimes it pays to buy new on cribs, carseats, etc. if you can afford to.