Garage Sailing Tips…Don’t Forget the Headlock Maneuver

It’s that time of year…time to put on the comfy sneakers, throw a few bottles of water into the mini-cooler, grab the sun hat and head out garage sailing! In your neck of the woods these events might be called yard sales, estate sales or tag sales. Whatever you call ’em, there are fabulous bargains to be had for the savvy shopper who knows the garage sailing ropes.

Here are 8 tips the pros know…and now you are going to know them, too!

1. Make a Wish List and Decide on a Budget:
Think about what items you are going to be looking for and make a little list. With your wish list in mind, decide how much you want to spend. Try really hard to stick to your budget. Resist the temptation to buy something you don’t really need, just because it’s a great bargain….that is, unless you know it will sell like hotcakes on eBay!

2. Plan Your Route:
The day before you go garage sailing, sit down and plan out your route. There are great online sites these days that will easily help you locate garage sales within a 2, 5 or 10 mile radius of your zip code/home.  Just Google the phrase “find a garage sale” and bunches will come up.   One that’s pretty popular is Garage Sale Tracker. com.

3. Prepare Yourself for a Great Day: Wear clothing appropriate for the weather…layers are always great because you can peel them off as the day warms up. Wear comfy sneakers or sandals and a sun hat with sunscreen for those really hot days. Don’t forget a small cooler loaded with bottled water and a light snack. You’ll need your energy for all that great bargain hunting!

4. The Early Bird Really Does Get the Worm: If you’ve scoped out the garage sale advertisements the night before and you saw an item that was exactly what you need, go early and try to be there when the garage doors go up. The really good stuff goes very fast…and often to dealers who snag it for their shop/booth.

5. Sometimes the Tortoise Wins the Race:
If there are items for sale that were on your list, but the price is out of line with your budget, stop by late in the day…on the last day of the sale. Most folks do not want to lug all their things back in and are often willing to make you a good deal.

6. Negotiate for a Better Deal: It never hurts to ask for a better deal on an item. Truth is, most garage sellers expect you to ask for a better price. If you are interested in several items, gather them all up and offer one reduced price…often the answer will be, yes!

7. Ask for What You Need: If you don’t see an item you were really hoping to find, mention it to the homeowner/seller. Sometimes the seller just ran out of time and didn’t get everything out they had wanted to sell. Or, if it’s a neighborhood sale, they may know someone a few houses down with just the item you need.

8. The Thrill of the Chase: Most of all, don’t forget to have fun and enjoy the hunt!

(All photos are from, Is Martha Stuart Living?, a very funny “parody” publication published in 1994.)

Would love to hear your garage sailing tips! Please share!

*If a post is sponsored or a product was provided at no charge, it will be stated in post. Some links may be affiliate links and as an Amazon Associate, I may earn from qualifying purchases. *

 Never miss a Between Naps on the Porch post! 

*Subscribe to have updates delivered to your Inbox. 


  1. Bringing Pretty Back says

    Great tips!!

  2. I haven't been to a yard sale since high school. I need to get some cash and get going!! Thank for the tips and for the funny photos. Hope you have a successful venture!

  3. Annesphamily says

    I loved reading the tips! Thanks. It is that time of year if only the rain would cease here! Smile!

  4. Barbara Jean says

    This is not really a tip, but just something I have noticed.

    When I am at a garage sale at an older persons home, they want to tell you about the things they are selling, or even storees of days gone by.

    Now, we have a choice.
    We can either rush off, not wanting to miss anything at that sale or any other,
    or, we can take a breath, slow ourselves down, and listen.
    You may be the only kind person all day who takes the time.

    Blessings and thanks for the practical tips.

    barbara jean

  5. madge1967 says

    Ok, This made me laugh so much! This happened to me about two years ago in a yard sell! I followed the little "Wench" to her car and took back my item!! and through her the $7.50. I then ran for it! She took the metal fan from my cart and I and three other people saw her do it. I got the home owners to step up about the situation and she was the one who had to leave with her hands empty!!
    Love this Thanks!!!

  6. Ha! Where'd you get those cool pix, Susan?

    Such a fun post. Helpful, too. I think my ADVICE IS: Be content with one find.

    Don't waste time when you've already found something cool, just because you want "MORE."

    If that makes sense.

    Happy Weekend!


    Hi Susan, Loved that article from Martha, too funny! Thanks for making me smile…off to SA and GW tomorrow!

  8. afistfullofweeds* says

    Not only is this funny, (the photos), but, it so happens!!. Folks will so steal from you too!! Gotta have security to have a yard sale these days!!

  9. Susan, we had a copy of that but don't know what happened to it. My husband bought it thinking it was so clever because he knows I'm a huge Martha fan.
    I don't have the patience to go to yard sales unless I happen by one in my neighborhood. And I did just that this morning and came home with a darling child's chair. It just might turn into a Met Monday post if I decide to paint it.
    Hope you have a terrific weekend. ~ Sarah

  10. Thanks for the tips and I just love the pictures. So funny!

  11. Heather@PixieDust says

    haha, i thought those pics looked very martha-esque.

  12. Kathy @ Creative Home Expressions says

    I don't garage sale, Susan, but those pictures are hilarious!

  13. SWEETNESS! Thanks so much for the tips! I use to live for Saturday's, got busy with kids, work, college and just quit, I am not thinkging about going back! Thanks for the wonderful tips!

  14. Lisa@Pickles and Cheese says

    So funny! Because it's so true! And I loved the final magazine cover…making water from scratch…and I myself could be accused of trying to stencil the driveway!

  15. Marilyn Holeman says

    Susan, I got a great chuckle out of that article–had to share it with my husband. Thanks for the link to the garage sale finder. Have a happy weekend.

  16. Sherry @ No Minimalist Here says

    Cute Photographs and great tips. I always check Craigslist for sales in my area and I am on the mailing list of companies that hold estate sales. Some estate sales offer 50% off the final day of sale.

  17. Where I have I been? I have never heard Garage Sale as going "Garage Sailing" I've always thought it was "Garage Saling" Learn something new everyday.

    I recently had a garage sale and I know everyone is out looking for a BIG bargin, but it made me cringe when people would ask if I would take X-amount of dollars instead of my asking price. Everything was priced below ebay and antique websites prices! Sorry for the rant! Sadly, we had no fights, there's nothing like a good girl fight. HA HA!

    From Virginia

  18. Susan (Between Naps on the Porch) says

    Hi Mary…check out this link for a definition of "garage sailing." πŸ™‚

  19. Thanks for the fun link Susan. I guess I just never had to spell Garage Sailing, and never gave it thought!

    who will now picture herself on the high seas at the next Garage Sale!

  20. Linda G. says

    Hi Susan! I remember when that magazine came out–it was very funny. I'm going to check my stash of Martha mags and see if I still have it! One good suggestion for garage sailing is to bring along packing material, especially bubble wrap if you are buying fragile items. That way you'll have less breakage as you fill the trunk! Linda

  21. black eyed susans kitchen says

    This post was so time appropriate! We had a town wide yard sale today. Our little borough of 2000 houses had 200 sales…they added sidewalk sales at the shops, the annual garden club sale and one town over, another town wide sale. I am just preparing a post on what I learned today…a clone would have been helpful!

  22. kayellen says

    Hahah! love the photos~~

    thanks for the giggles, I needed that!

    …recovering from surgery:)

    Kay Ellen

  23. Loved this! Made me laugh! I sure do miss living in the Atlanta area. My husband and I would do just as you suggested. Estate Sales! Sooo many loved treasures – I wanted to tell the folks – these will continue to be loved. I guess my thought would be if you know what you are looking for and it is a whole house sale – go straight for the room you'd probably have kept it in! People are creatures of habit!

  24. I'm with you about getting up early on a Saturday…I stay up too late at night to be up at 9:00a.m…..last week I got up early to go to the Farmers Market on Marietta Square…That was a bust…Tomorrow I may hit up some of the church sales…I saw a few or maybe the Greek Festival…Garage sales..I have enough crap!!

  25. Patina Marie says

    I'm totally with Barbara Jean on this one. I made it to only ONE sale today, but it was worth it!

    Came home with lots of treasures and lots of fond memories of spending almost 2 hours with a bunch of old timers (complete strangers!) sharing their tall tales!!! After that one, I just didn't want to go to any others. My day was complete…..

  26. House and Garden Boutique says

    Thanks for stopping by the store this week. It was really nice meeting you and fun to meet a fellow blogger in person. Enjoyed the tag sale tips too. Have a great weekend! Lynn

  27. Great tips Susan!

    I always like to shop with a friend, it makes it more fun! We know each other's likes and many times have found things for each other that may have been overlooked if we'd been shopping solo.

    I stopped in an estate sale today I happened to come across and got some great things for tablescaping!

  28. Laura PARING DOWN says

    I totally love the tips, but the parody photos are awesome!!!

    πŸ™‚ Laura

  29. Some great tips! The only problem is that I don't go to garage sales. I usually have one once a year but I don't ever stop at any. There was one yesterday right across the street and I didn't even walk over there. I think I am the only one who doesn't go to them:)

  30. Laura Ingalls Gunn says

    Great tips AND a good laugh! πŸ™‚

  31. Rettabug says

    What a crack-up! Too funny!
    Thanks for the laughs & the link, also, Susan. I didn't know that existed. :/

  32. Great tips. I usualy take a tote vs my purse as it's lighter. Have change and smaller bills to buy. Empty car, put box in it so things don't roll around. Have space for large items. Put some money aside to go to lunch,then go home,get off your feet, don't drop dead and have husband empty the car unless you don't want him to know what you bought, just for today.

  33. That's so funny! I remember when they would do Martha skits on SNL.


  34. Susan, this post had me laughing out loud. And your tips are fantastic. Just such a fun post. I would miss you if I didn't check in what you have written last.

    Also, I love you new blog button!

  35. The Quintessential Magpie says

    What a hoot! Loved this, Susan!


    Sheila πŸ™‚

  36. Kelly Lish says

    That was hilarious! So glad to be following your blog!

  37. Pansy Cottage Girl says

    Very funny, thanks for the laugh!

  38. LisasCraftiqueBoutique says

    I Love the photos. I have been in the midst of the yard sale frenzies and even in the local thrift shop things can get heated. This one particular one always has a group of people waiting outside the doors before they open. When the elderly gentleman comes to open the door watch out! You could be run down by a baby stroller or trampled by the stampede of bargain crazed shoppers….like me! Thanks for the chuckle!

  39. HI Susan, I see you posted this on Fri. It is now Sun. night and I haven't been on the computer for 2 days!!!!!!!!!!!! THAT is a record for sure!!! Loved this post…too funny! Haven't been to a GS this year yet but hope to get to some soon! Great tips from your readers, especially bringing bubble wrap! XO, Pinky

  40. Time Worn Style says

    That is SO funny, hey is that me in the denim shirt, i think it is!!

  41. Garage Sailing is my Saturday morning pasttime. Love the bargains & finding clothing for some kids whose parents are overloaded with bills right now. So gratifying to help young parents who are struggling financially! The kids love the backpacks, toys & neat clothes I find for them. Just tuck a post-it note in your wallet with sizes because you never know when you can make someone’s day by paying it forward. πŸ™‚ And, you meet the nicest people at garage sales, too!

I'd love to hear from you! Please leave a comment!