Seven Pro-Tips for Garage Sales in Phoenix

Everyone knows that garage-sale-ing (aka the art of sorting through strangers' crap) is an early bird's game. I never attempt a morning of suburban scavenging without the strong buzz of an extra large black coffee, and a sugary cupcake muffin.

Additionally, most people are aware that when it comes to making purchases off of someone's lawn, cash is king and bartering is generally welcome. But this is where the wealth of common knowledge seems to end.
And while knowing the basics may get you a gently used tennis racket, it's not going to help you find a mint condition Bob's Big Boy Statue, circa 1970, in near mint condition.

And with garage sales being in high season right now, it's time to share some insider tips to help you make the most of your weekend-bargain shopping.

7. Avoid breeder colonies

Breeder colony n. - A suburban neighborhood, typically cookie housing development, where young couples go to lay down some roots - specifically buy their first home and start making babies. (see: Chandler, Ahwatukee, Mesa)

Unless you want to spend your weekend driving through a labyrinthine of mass-produced homes, following vague cardboard signage, only to be disappointed by IKEA hand-me-downs, chewed up baby toys, and stained onesies, steer-clear of the newlywed, newborn territory.

6. Craigslist (not just for creepers)

What with all the serial killing and 'casual' adult encounters nowadays on Craigslist, we've lost sight of what the site was intended for -- finding good deals. Thanks to the wonders of technology, we can now use sites like Craigslist, eBay and other online classifieds to save us time and gas in finding a good local sale.

People who have a lot of items to unload will use online listings to make sure word gets out well beyond their cul-de-sac. These mass liquidations of personal possessions are usually the result of some major life change (divorce, relocation, etc.). And while it may be unfortunate for them, it's your personal gain. The less time and options they have to get rid of their stuff, the more leeway you have to haggle with them (desperation can be a great compromiser).

5. Watch out for weekly wheelers and dealers

Every so often you will encounter those special residential retailers whose homes are filled with broken trinkets, outdated gadgets, and most of all, denial. If you notice that one of your neighbors holds a garage sale on an almost weekly basis, you can probably take a pass, because it really only means one thing - they haven't accepted the fact that nobody wants their crap. They didn't want it last Saturday, or the Saturday before that, and they're not going to want it this Saturday.

4. Get Historical

Where better to find historic treasures than historic neighborhoods? Older Phoenix neighborhoods can be absolute goldmines for those seeking high-valued vintage (i.e. anything Mad Men).

People who purchase historic homes generally have a certain appreciation for the preservation of antiques. So not only are you bound to find items as hold as the house they're being sold from, they're usually in decent condition.

3. The schools-out discount

To cap off the ending of garage sale season, there is the end of the college school year.

What with the studying, the end-of the year parties, and the anticipation of summer, students often forget (or don't care) to make arrangements for all of their belongings.

Obviously the essentials will go with them- but what to do about the futon? And how you explain a beer bong table to your parents? Impulsiveness and material immaturity work in your favor, allowing you to snag a wide range of dorm accessories, furniture, and maybe even some appliances.

But be warned, the homeless are way ahead of you when it comes to this yearly holiday.

2. Beware the misuse of the words "estate sale"

While its good to take pride in the place you call home, it's also nice to be honest with potential buyers of your unwanted crap (or as you refer to them in your advertisement "a collection of eclectic worldly possessions"). Although lots of people exaggerate their sales with lofty titles, just as many modest individuals downplay their advertised treasures with a simple 'Yard Sale." So don't get too hung up on wordplay.

Instead, look for some of the signs:

- Neighborhood
There are cars parked on the lawn -and they're not for sale. Skip it.

-Spelling and grammar in the ads
"A State Sale"? Are you referring to some sort of Louisiana Purchase? Fail.

-Online marketing. A lot of time, actual estate sales need to be handled by professionals and will be marketed ahead of time.

1. Three words: cash and carry

The Arizona Surplus Property Warehouse is where you look for things you might not otherwise find in someone's front yard. Retired police cars, miscellaneous office furniture, elementary school desks, and a colorful assortment of heavy outdoor machinery.

Sales at the Surplus Warehouse are advertised discreetly and the best way to find out about upcoming ones is to call their number (602) 542-5701. The next sale will be April 24th, which is their cash and carry day; in other words, if you've got the cash and the means to carry it out yourself, it's yours.

You might want to start buttering up that friend yours who has a truck.

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Katie Johnson
Contact: Katie Johnson