My Garage Sale and Thrifting Toolkit

I really enjoy visiting garage sales, yard sales, and thrift stores. I almost always find an item or two that I’m either looking for myself or I’m sure I can sell on eBay for a small profit. Plus, I’m always amazed at the things other people have largely decided to throw out.

Whenever I head out for a few hours of visiting yard sales and thrift stores, I take my backpack along with me. I usually have several items in it that help immensely with a big day of yard sales and thrifting. Here’s what I pack.

A list of thrift stores and yard sales. I’ll usually check the local newspapers a day or two before I plan on heading out to see where the sales are going to be. I make a list of those sales. I also usually make a list of local thrift stores, but I pretty much know where they all are within a twenty five mile radius, so that’s reached the point of being unnecessary.

A map and/or a GPS unit. Just because I have an address of a yard sale two towns over doesn’t mean I know exactly where that is. A local map can help somewhat, but I’ve found that the GPS is even more useful. I simply punch in the address and go. Quite often, I’ll punch in all of the unknown addresses the night before so that I can just click a button or two and go when I’m out and about the next day.

A simple meal. A sandwich, a few vegetables, and a few bottles of water take care of any food or rehydration needs I’ll have when I’m out. This way, I’m not tempted to overpay for some unhealthy food on the go, which would pretty much undermine any benefit of hitting thrift stores or yard sales.

Cash. Yard sales usually operate on a cash-only basis (and thrift stores are quite happy to take cash). Thus, when I’m out, I do my shopping on a cash-only basis. Part of that means making sure that I have an adequate amount of cash on hand before I leave to cover anything I might possibly buy.

Sizes. What size clothes does my wife wear? My kids? Me, for that matter? I make sure to have them all written down so that I can easily identify clothes that would fit each of them.

A list, along with certain measurements. Are there any particular items I’m looking for? Sometimes there is, sometimes there isn’t. When there is, I make a list of those items so I don’t forget. For example, if we need boy’s shirts, I’ll write that down. Also, if I’m looking for items of a particular size – like a desk, for example – I’ll measure the desired dimensions of the desk and write those down.

A tape measure. If I’m going to be measuring an item – like a desk – I need to have something to measure it with. A tape measure is perfect for that task.

A notebook. I usually have this on hand anyway because I always carry a pocket notebook with me. However, if I spy something interesting at a yard sale but I don’t know if I need it or not, I’ll make a note of it, go home, and check. Sometimes I’ll even return to the yard sale to pick it up.

A rope or short bungie cord. Yes, every once in a while, something comes along that’s just too big to fit properly in a car trunk. In those cases, you might have to tie it down for the drive home. That’s why it’s handy to have a rope and/or a bungie cord on hand to secure the item.

All of this stuff fits easily in a backpack and can be packed the night before (excepting the food, of course). Going prepared makes it much more likely you’ll find the things you actually need when you go thrift store and/or garage and yard sale shopping.

Good luck!