Budgeting has been covered before, but it wasn't specified how much should be paid for certain types of items. Since every garage sale is unique, it's impossible to specify exact prices for everything, but here are a few helpful ballparks for some more commonly found items.
Books are to be found at almost any yard sale, and at wildly varying prices. Some will be battered paperbacks, while others will be hardbacks in perfect condition with the dust jacket intact. It really does depend on how much you want a book (or how much you think you can resell it for!), but in general -- paperbacks should be between 10¢ and 50¢, while hardbacks should be in the 50¢ to $2 realm. Anything else is fair game: children's board books should be judged based on condition, workbooks without writing ought to cost more than filled-out workbooks, and magazines depend on the age and popularity.
Now that Blu-Ray has come about, DVDs are getting easier to find at garage sales. Considering that they are still expensive even at used book stores, you can bet that anywhere below $5 (for a popular movie, granted) is a good deal. VHS taps, on the other hand, are in the last stage of being phased out of people's personal collections, as VHS players break down and they have no way to retrieve them. Don't pay more than $1 for a VHS, even if it's a popular movie -- you can find them lots of places online for much cheaper.
Furniture varies, of course, with the size and condition, but with furniture superstores like Ikea that have classy new products at affordable prices, it's not worth it to pay more than $25 or so for someone's beat-up old couch. Now, if you spot a beautiful, gently-used armoire for $50, well...you probably won't get a better deal on a nice antique at an antique dealer, so go ahead and splurge if you'd buy it anyway. People selling furniture are often looking to avoid making a trip to the dump, so they're often more willing to sell it to you at a low price if you haul it away.
Here's a quick price guide to clothes:
- Shirts, 25¢-$1 used, up to $3-4 new
- Pants, up to $2 used, up to $5-6 new
- Jackets, sweatshirts, coats, up to $4 used, up to $7-8 new
- Socks, no more than 25-50¢
Whatever you would be willing to pay at a thrift shop, halve that, and you'll usually have a fair garage sale price to go by.
Kitchen items like plates and utensils are often bundled; don't fork over more than $5 for a nice set. If you're looking at accessories and appliances, remember (it's important!) that thrift stores frequently have similar items for prices you won't have to haggle on, so consider that paying more than $5-10 is probably a poor buying decision.
If you're setting out to purchase collectibles, you'll want to do some research ahead of time. If you have an iPhone or other portable wireless device, you can do on-site research too; this can lead you to discover that you can pay $1 and resell an item for $1,000. Bring along any value-determining print resources you have, like trading card value books, and jog back to the car to thumb through it if you find something you're interested in.
What do you think are fair prices? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave your comments on this post. Meanwhile, take a peek at GarageSaleCow.com and see what else we have in store for garage sale fanatics like you!