4 Reasons to Avoid Garage Sale Shopping

Yesterday a fellow personal finance blogger, Holly at Club Thrifty, posted about 5 reasons why she loves shopping at garage sales.

I’d venture to guess that a lot of personal finance bloggers and readers do like to shop at garage sales as they can be a great way to save some money on your purchases. Well, no offense to Holly and the rest of you that love shopping at garage sales, but I personally HATE shopping at garage sales. Here’s why:

Lack of Selection

One of the reasons I don’t shop at garage sales very often is because they don’t often have the items in sizes or colors I need anyway. Sometimes you can pick up some good stuff at garage sales for dirt cheap, I get that, but in my rural area there’s not much selection. When I lived in a college town I’d go garage-saling (yes, we made it into a bit of hobby) to get used furniture and nicer quality stuff from the “rich part of town”. But now in my rural area there isn’t really a “rich part of town” to be found.

They are a Time Suck

Now that I work full-time, have a part-time weekend job, am trying to finish up a major yard renovation project at my house, and I have a freelancing business to run, my time is very limited. I have to be pretty picky about what I do with the small amount of free time I have and generally this doesn’t include driving around town to look at dusty stuff in people’s garages. Instead, I’d rather spend time with my family or friends, or working on one of my non-income producing hobbies. 🙂

You Buy Cheap Crap You Don’t Need

Holly talks about how she finds lots of stuff she’d likely buy anyway at garage sales, thus she saves money and the environment. That’s great! I love that idea. But personally, the garage sales in my town are usually full of stuff I don’t need and they entice me to buy cheap Walmart crap that ends up becoming clutter. Yes, they are usually very cheap, therefore they aren’t a huge money waste, but I still have to figure out how to deal with disposing of them.

I’d Rather Shop at a Second-Hand Store

We don’t really have second-hand stores in my community, just one with terrible selection, but when I visit Denver I like to hit up lots of their second-hand stores to see what I can find. Sometimes you can find designer or other high-quality clothes and home items for really cheap. Plus I like that my money is being used to support a charitable organization, instead of going to the garage sale owner so they can buy more crap at Walmart and have another garage sale the next year.

On the flip side, I do love having garage sales. I had one at my house last year and with all the stuff we sold, the total we brought in was about $625! It was a pretty lucrative sale as my mom, my cousin, and I all got rid of a lot of our clutter and made some cash too. $625 may not sound like much, but we had no large items at all, so it was mostly made $1 or $2 at a time.

Do you like shopping at garage sales? Have you ever held a successful garage sale?

About Kayla

Kayla is a mid-20s single girl living in the Midwest, USA. She is focused on paying off her consumer and student loans, while simplifying her life and closet. You can join her on her journey at ShoeaholicNoMore or follow her on Twitter.


  1. Yard sales were one of our best ways to make money and clear up clutter when we were kids but I haven’t held one in ages. Of course, we didn’t make a ton but it was always always worth doing for some pocket change. I think it’s much better viewed as a hobby and opportunistic buying, unless you’re just looking for clothes, which is generally found in abundance. When we were really little, our parents only shopped yard sales because there were no good used or consignment shops and frankly, we were pretty poor!

  2. Great points. We’d add that at garage sales, you’re buying from the people who own the stuff, and they are sometimes emotionally attached and think it’s worth more than it is.

  3. I’m with you on this one. I have never had luck on getting really great stuff at a garage sale so I haven’t gone to one in yeas. Even in the ritziest area of town, it seemed like the merchandise available is pretty junky. My husband always says that another person’s castoffs are…..castoffs.

  4. I think being able to find a garage sale in the fancy part of town is key, and if you don´t have a fancy part of town, then haha, yeah I can imagine how this would be a bust. But here in New Orleans, people get rid of some real gems either in their trash or at garage sales, and it´s a great way to find lovely furniture that might only need to be reupholstered or repainted.

  5. The last item that I bought at a garage sale was a 1920s Singer sewing machine around the corner from my house. Other than that ‘i avoid shopping too often.

  6. Before the internet became what it is today, I used to go to garage sales all the time. Now, they’re rarer and I only go to the yard crawl in my hometown in August (75 miles of yard sales and it’s usually worth it). I’ll hit up flea markets on occasion, but those are becoming a thing of the past too.

    • That’s a good point Alexis. The internet does make garage sales less useful for bargain shopping too.

Speak Your Mind