Garage Sale Shopping Tips

Resident 'Pro' Offers Garage Sale Pointers

PALMETTO BAY, FL, April 18, 2014 -- Long-time Palmetto Bay resident and veteran garage-sale enthusiast Judy Jones shares tips on how to make your next sale experience safer, smarter, and more enjoyable -- whether you're a buyer or seller. And Judy ought to know: "I have been going to garage sales and hosting garage sales most of my life -- it's my hobby..."

Please visit our list of currently registered Garage Sales in Palmetto Bay, updated weekly. Also be sure to visit the Village Facebook for weekly postings.

Photo: Judy Jones (l) "shops" for a free tree for Arbor Day. Also pictured: Councilwoman Lindsay.

Judy's Tip of the Week

Keep up with the Joneses by following Judy's latest tip:

The Time-Tested "T" ... Over the years, I have seen many T-shirts for sale at garage sale, many with funny sayings on them -- and I have purchased quite a few. I save a lot of money by buying T-shirts at the sales instead of department stores. They also make great gifts for different occasions such as "Over-the-Hill" shirts, retirement shirts, and myriad other funny shirts. I love peoples' reactions when I wear a goofy shirt out in public or give them out as gifts. Did you know, the dubbed “T-shirt” surfaced in the U.S. when they were issued by the U.S. Navy sometime around the Spanish American War. It got its iconic name from its shape resembling the letter “T,” of course. And by the 1920s “T-shirt” became an official American-English word in the Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary. But it wasn't until 1942 that the printed T-shirt came into fashion, to identify members of the Air Corps Gunnery School, as featured on the cover of LIFE magazine.

Spring Into Summer ... It's not too early to start shopping for summer clothes. There are a lot of T-shirts, tank tops, shorts, sneakers, flip flops, sandals, sun visors, baseball caps, and the like at garage sales. Great prices, too. You can really make a nice wardrobe from the garage sale clothing. I love to mix and match tops with shorts. Also, there are no sales taxes -- just low prices.  I try on clothing items over my clothes while I am at a sale, to ensure they fit before I buy it. I don't want to get home and be disappointed. Enjoy the garage sales!

Mangowood Sale ... There is a big uptick in garage sales this time of year. The BIG sale is coming up soon, hosted by the Mangowood  Estates Citizens Association. It is Saturday, Feb. 22 at 8 a.m. No early birds. Some people end their sale at noon while others keep their going longer. It extends from SW 144 St. to SW 152 St.; and from SW 84 Ct. to SW 80 Ave. There is usually between 50 to 75 homes that participate.  You can drive, walk, bike ride, or take a golf cart to get around. Block after block, house after house, the sale offers just about everything and anything you can imagine. Some people BBQ and sell drinks. There are cars, and boats for sale. It is by far the biggest sale around. It's just a great venue – and you can negotiate prices. It usually turns out to be a big neighborhood party, friends chatting with friends. It is great fun and bargains galore. See you there!

Flurry of Winter Items ... Flocks of snowbirds come down each year to Miami and bring along with them their winter clothes. Then they have garage sales and sell their wares here. I have had great success finding  bargains on winter clothing which I then use when visiting the North during the winter. Coats, jackets, ski clothing, gloves, mittens, hats, boots, scarves, thermal underwear, snow pants, etc. I have found expensive winter jackets on sale for only $1. It sure saves a lot of money to buy these items at a garage sale instead of an expensive store -- and pay sales tax. Now if I could only learn to ski! Happy winter shopping…

'TIS THE SEASON ... This is a great time to hit the garage sales. A lot of people have been cleaning out their homes and closets to make room for holiday gifts. You can get some great bargains before Christmas and not have to worry about, cyber shopping, long lines, heavy traffic, or sales tax. Typically there are quite a few sales around town up until about a week before Christmas. Happy holidays to everyone!

JUDY ON LIZ ON DIAMONDS ... Elizabeth Taylor once said, “Big girls need big diamonds.” That may be true, but because you just never know if the so-called “real” jewelry at a garage sale is actually real stones or real precious metal, I often stick with the costume jewelry. Besides, you can find beautiful jewelry that is costume but looks quite authentic. Plus it's a lot cheaper. Sometimes you can find new jewelry still in the box it came in. I like to give jewelry as gifts. Once years ago, I found  two 14K gold bracelets for only $1 each. That was a real find. Sometimes you will find jewelry that is handmade. Estate sales usually have a good selection of different kinds of jewelry. Either way, garage sale or estate sale, you can usually negotiate the prices of jewelry. You just never know what interesting things you can find out there. Happy shopping!

HILLARY ON HANDBAGS ... Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton* once said, “How can you be unhappy if you pick up a big pink bag?” Well, the path to happiness apparently starts at a garage sale! There are so many purses for sale at garage sales. There are all different sizes, and for all ages. There are a lot of tan, black, and brown shoulder bags and hand bags -- and many different brands including name brands. I like to buy pouches, or fanny packs and wear them when I shop.  They allow me to keep both my hands free for browsing. You can also find tote bags, shopping bags, laptop bags, gym bags, and more. See you at the sales.

*Harper’s Bazaar profiled Hillary Clinton a couple years back, and while they primarily focused on serious worldly issues facing the former Secretary of State at the time, they also couldn't resist asking her about her handbag fetish. "Handbags satisfy a deep psychological need, she said. "a desire to kind of organize and contain that which is important to you in your daily life. I have this Ferragamo hot-pink bag that I adore. It makes me so happy. I mean, how can you be unhappy if you pick up a big pink bag?”

CONQUER THE WORLD ... Marilyn Monroe once said, "Give a girl the right shoes, and she can conquer the world." Garage sales must be the first stop on the road to world dominance! You can find a wide variety of shoes at good prices at garage sales. I have found flip-flops, sandals, dress shoes, sneakers, kids shoes, and more. Sometimes, I even find name brand sneakers that are like new at garage sales for only $1. Make sure you try them on before you purchase them, check that the soles are in good condition, and make sure there are no holes, or tears anywhere in the shoes. I put my sneakers in the washing machine before I wear them and I dry them out in the sun, just to be hygienic. Enjoy the summer sales.

A JACKIE CHAN QUOTE? REALLY? ... Jackie Chan once said, "Coffee is a language in itself.” And who doesn't speak it? Of course, you can't have coffee without mugs. I see so many coffee mugs at garage sale every week. Some are humorous, while others feature sports, sports teams, or holidays. Some are very large and fancy. I have seen funnily shaped mugs, joke mugs (sometimes X-Rated!) and even mugs with a built-in compartment for a tea bag. One of my favorite kinds are the mugs that come with a matching lid. They are very rare, but I like them because they keep my drink hot for longer.  I have seen many mugs still in their boxes, and I usually only pay between $.25 and $1. Don't forget that mugs can make great gifts. Enjoy the summer sales!

"I AM ALWAYS READY TO LEARN" ... Winston Churchill once said, "I am always ready to learn although I do not always like being taught." But I think that even Churchill would have liked being taught how to shop garage sales for back to school items! With schools starting soon, parents are thinking about back to school clothes and school supplies. This is a great time to start looking for clothes and school supplies at garage sales. There are a lot of name brand clothing items at lots of different sizes and at great prices at the sales. My husband found 3 pairs of name brand slacks in great condition for only $.50 each. I have also seen office and school supplies at the sales for low prices. I have seen some sales that carry all the office and school supplies you could ever need. See what you can find at the garage sales before you hit the crowded stores.

"BORN WITH A NEED TO BE LOVED" … American Politician Frank A. Clark (1830-1936) once said, “A baby is born with a need to be loved, and never outgrows it.” Certainly, he was not referring to the baby’s clothing! And that’s a good thing – if you are an expectant mother or a grandparent anxiously waiting a newborn grandchild. You will be pleased to learn garage sales often feature plenty of baby items for you. I have seen baby furniture, strollers, cribs, clothes for newborns, baby toys, diapers, car seats, and much more. You can get baby items for a fraction of the cost of a retail store. And because babies outgrow clothes so fast, but larger sizes now and hold onto them until you little one grows into them. Many of the items that you see in baby stores can be found at a garage sale. I see so many parents buying items for their babies – and grandparents also shopping for grandkids. I have even been to garage sales that sell nothing other than baby items. It is fantastic for expecting parents.

"FURNISH YOUR ROOM FOR CONVERSATION" ... and the chairs will take care of themselves." So said Sibyl Colefax, a notable English interior decorator and socialite in the first half of the twentieth century. You might considering starting this effort by shopping for furnishings – at a great price – at garage sales, estate sales, or moving sales. I have seen all kinds of furniture at garage sales and you can usually negotiate good prices for it. You may need a truck to haul your new find, although sometimes the seller will deliver it to your home for a small price. You can usually buy used furniture for a fraction of the cost of new furniture. Estate sales may be higher priced because of the middleman that can get up to 50 percent of the sale. I have seen dining room sets, living room furniture, kitchen furniture, bedroom sets, and much more. Happy furniture shopping!

"NOW IS THE WINTER OF OUR DISCONTENT" ... William Shakespeare probably didn't have a very good selection of winter clothes, but you can – if you keep up with garage sales -- in Miami! Believe it or not, you can find great bargains on all kinds of winter clothes at garage sales here. For those that vacation up North, you can find ski jackets, other winter jackets and coats, sweaters, ski outfits, gloves, mittens, scarves, boots, leggings, ski caps, and more. We use them on trips up North and I also send them to relatives that live up North. You won't find these clothes cheaper anywhere else. I just bought two winter jackets at a garage sale in Miami that sell for around $50-$100 or more each, and I paid just $1 for each one! It is amazing what you can find at garage sales. Stay warm!

"WHERE IS HUMAN NATURE SO WEAK?" Well, according to abolitionist Henry Ward Beecher, the answer is, " the bookstore..." But I would argue it must also be in the garage sale! I have seen so many different kinds of books at garage sale over the years. There are history, science, kids' books, college books, geography, and required reading for middle and high school students which typically include classical books. I have also seen a food share of humorous book, self-help books, diet books, political, atlases, home repair and improvement books, car repair, teen and young adult books, gardening, animals, birds, hobby books -- and my all-time favorite, cookbooks. I have been buying cookbooks since I began shopping at garage sales years and years ago. I have loads of them. (Maybe I should have a garage sale!) I usually pay 25 cents for paperbacks; and 50 cents to $1 for hardbacks. I used to pay a dime for kid's books but that was a long time ago... I have a cookbook that is marked $50 that I bought for $1 at a garage sale. You can get incredible prices on books at garage sales. Just about anything you can find in bookstores or a library you can find at garage sales. I also buy them for gifts for people. Happy shopping!

"THE SECRET TO HUMOR IS SURPRISE" ... Aristotle once said that -- and he should know. He just loved finding a good gag gift at a garage sale (so the rumor goes). History lessons aside, I really enjoy giving people gag gifts that I find at garage sales. I buy funny coffee mugs, T-shirts, dolls, plaques, refrigerator magnets, statues, books, senior gifts, etc. They are great fun to give to people on their birthdays and other occasions. I love it when they say, "Where in the world did you find this?" (duh… at a garage sale, of course!). They are really big a hit at party.

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