How and where to find the best deals this year

Tuesday, January 3, 2012
Dale Humphries of Cape Girardeau has been organizing -- and shopping at -- garage sales for many years. (submitted photo)


Christmas items. Almost every store will have its Christmas goods discounted 50 percent or more after Christmas, says Sandi Williams, a Cape Girardeau mom of four and avid couponer. Some make huge markdowns even in the days before Christmas. "That's a great deal, so I stock up on everything I need for the next year the day after Christmas," says Williams.

Party supplies. After Christmas is also a good time to stock up on paper plates, napkins, cups and gift-wrapping supplies. "I never, ever pay full price for wrapping paper, bows or tags," says Williams. "Some 'Christmas' stuff will not have a Christmas theme, so I pick up wrapping paper that is solid, add a fun bow and use it for birthdays throughout the year. Red napkins can be used at the Fourth of July or for birthdays."

Summer clothing. "Shop out-of-season for clothing all year long, especially if you have children," says Williams. "Lots of times during the winter, summer clothing will be 80 percent off."

Camping, outdoor and sporting goods
Air conditioners
Carpeting and flooring
Exercise equipment
Home theater gear
Small appliances
Suits (fall styles)
Video games
Digital cameras
Gardening tools
Prom dresses
Wedding dresses

Sandi Williams, a Cape Girardeau mom of four, is an avid couponer and bargain-hunter. (submitted photo)


Easter and spring decor. Once again, shop after Easter for next year's decorations. You can probably find items that will look pretty throughout the spring and summer.

Coats and winter clothing. Dale Humphries, who frequents Cape Girardeau-area garage sales, says many people will be trying to sell their winter clothing by late spring. "This could be a great time to get a coat at a better price than waiting until fall," she says.

Secondhand holiday decor, outdoor gear and more. "If you're willing to store out-of-season clothing, outdoor toys or holiday items until they can be used, you're likely to get a better bargain," says Humphries.

Car accessories and parts
Vacuum cleaners
Kitchen accessories
Patio furniture
Tools and hardware


Home goods. College students will be getting ready to move into their dorm rooms and apartments, and sellers will bring out the goods to furnish those places, says Humphries.

Suits (spring styles)
MP3 players
Patio furniture
Storage containers
Swing sets
Lawn mowers


Toys. By early fall, stores will start marking down their toys to make room for new Christmas toys. "I stock up for all occasions and donations," says Williams.

Air conditioners
Lawn mowers
Trees, shrubs, bulbs
HDTVs (home theater gear)
Recreational vehicles
Trees, shrubs, bulbs
Wedding dresses
Big appliances


Shop early. "'The early bird really does get the worm' when it comes to sales," says Williams. "If there is an ad for something you need on sale, you better get up and get there."

Ask the cashier for a coupon. "Most have a stash of them just waiting to be used," says Williams.

If you're shopping secondhand, check each item carefully. "Just because it worked the last time they used it doesn't mean it still does," says Humphries. "Most people I know will be honest with you if you ask questions, like why they're selling the item. No warranty!"


What's the worst part of hosting a garage sale? Figuring out what to do with the items that didn't sell! For a successful sale, consider these tips from garage sale pro Dale Humphries:

You'll probably get the best price for your items when they're in season or when a season or holiday is coming up -- so sell your pool in the summer, your Christmas tree in the fall and so on.

Sell clothes a few seasons ahead, especially if you have kids' clothing. "A lot of people who buy kids' clothes will buy a season or even a year ahead, anticipating what size their kids will be wearing in a few months or next year," explains Humphries. Parents will start looking for back-to-school clothes in late summer.

Sell coats when it's cold outside. "Coats and sweaters are hard to sell in the spring unless you're having your sale on a cold morning," says Humphries.

Keep this in mind: "Most garage sale people I know shop whenever there's a sale, whenever it's cheap and when they can get name-brand items at a great price, regardless of the season," says Humphries.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: