The Facts about Garage Sales & Estate Sales

We both have a special place in our hearts for the spring and summer seasons. Not because of the warmer weather, the blooming buds, or even the absence of Chicago snow…we love the this time of year because it’s GARAGE SALE & ESTATE SALE SEASON!

Garage SaleWe know it’s the end of July, so pardon us if we’re late to the game. But even though the selling is well underway, we still want to give you the necessary tips and tricks so you can rock your next thrifting trip! Because if we’re lucky…we’ve still got a good 3 months before the season comes to an end.


First, if you’re new to the shopping game then you’ve probably been bombarded with all kinds of different sales…garage sales, tag sales, estate sales, yard sales…the list goes on and on. You may think that they’re all the same, large sales where people get rid of old crap stuff they don’t want. But there can be a big difference between a garage sale and an estate sale, and those differences should affect the way you plan your shopping day. So here are our garage sale and estate sale shopping tips!

Estate Sale

What is it? An estate sale is the sale of items from an estate of someone who has passed. It also includes the sale of items from a home that has been abandoned or foreclosed. Often times you’ll see estate sales run by companies hired by the living family members to ease the burden of selling an entire home of possessions.
Estate Sale

What should I expect? To us, estate sales are the best sales because you’ll find a wide variety of items that have been collected over a lifetime. Often times everything in the home is up for grabs, so you’ll simply peruse every room in the home and come back downstairs or to the front of the house with any items you want to purchase. Because of the high quality goods, estate sales are often the most pricey. We often find ourselves browsing more than buying at these kinds of sales.
Garage Sale Tag

How do I get the best deals? Estate sales typically run for 3 days… Friday-Sunday. Many advertise well in advance, and our go-to resource is Here you can find any upcoming estate sales in your local area.  The nicer the neighborhood, the nicer the stuff inside the home… so keep that in mind.

When estate sales are run by professional companies, there are some rules to consider…

  1. Get There Early. Arrive early, and you’ll be handed a number to wait in line (yep, just like you’re at the deli. Sorry they won’t be handing out any sandwiches!) For security purposes, they don’t want too many people in the home at one time, so they’ll call shoppers in by groups of numbers.
  2. No Haggling. Typically price tags are not up for negotiation. In fact, sometimes there will be bids for higher priced items like antique furniture. You’ll fill out a bid slip, and the person with the highest number will be contacted later to come pick up the item.
  3. Shop Last Minute. If you’re looking for a really good deal… go the afternoon of the last day. This is probably the only time you’ll find marked down items.

Garage Sale

What is it?  Garage sales are usually held in the garage or a driveway, and it’s a way for homeowner’s to purge items they no longer need. A slight variation on the garage sale is a yard sale… where someone has so much stuff to sell, it spills over into their yards and front lawns. Heck yes…bring on those overflowing goods!
Garage Sale Sign

What should I expect? You never really know what you’re gonna get…but it’s likely you’ll find unwanted kitchen utensils, children’s clothing, toys, sports gear, and kitchen goods. Sometimes homeowners get rid of furniture, but don’t expect to find a ton at a garage sale.

How do I get the best deals?

  1. Look for signs. Driving around and looking for neon posters on the corner is the best way to find out about the garage sales in your area. For those who are a little less adventurous and more apt to plan in advance, addresses that are hosting garage sales are often listed in the local paper a few days before the weekend.
  2. Clear your schedule. Believe it or not, a morning dash to a garage sale in your neighborhood can quickly turn into an entire afternoon of garage sale shopping. These spur of the moment visits seem to grow into, “just one more garage sale” over & over again (many times against your better half’s wishes). So don’t fight it! Clear your schedule and leisurely explore the entire town’s garage sale status.
  3. Cash is King! Although it’s 2014 and most people are guilty of having a credit, debit, and cell phone on them at all times, garage sales are the exception to the rule. Hit the ATM before your shopping day begins.
  4. Think outside of the box. Even if something needs a little TLC or a coat of paint..don’t discount it completely. Think outside of the box and we promise you that you will find far more treasures for all over your home. Knowing our readers, you guys can transform some of those oh-so-ugly pieces into DIY treasures for your home.

Garage and estate sale shopping is all about the adventure, so ENJOY IT! If you keep our tips in mind, we know it will be a great day in the neighborhood 🙂



P.S. For Flea Market Shopping Tips…check out this post!


The Year of Casey

Hey there!

I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m a Chicago gal teaching you how to design, DIY, and maintain your home…by yourself! Learn more about me right here.