The Treasure and the Trash – The Top Nine Items to Scoop Up at Garage Sales

We’re just entering the best season for garage sales. Although the summer months offer the best weather, September brings with is the knowledge that the last chance to sell off that unwanted clutter is upon us. Your best buys are to be had at this juncture of the seasons, especially in the northern states.

If you don’t know where to start, this advice is for you. Here are nine categories of items that can make you money by buying them cheap and selling them on eBay or some similar venue.

If you’re not sure whether an item is worth it, in never hurts to pull out your smartphone and check the prices on eBay before you start to dicker. You want to be buying New York strip porterhouse. Make sure you’re only paying Texas Roadhouse prices.

Here we go:

Costume Jewelry

There’s genuine money in fake jewelry. Check for quality work and lack of defects. Look for name brand jewelry, which commands the highest prices.

Sports Memorabilia

Valuable baseball cards are often found at garage and estate sales. Antique baseball gloves and old-fashioned leather football helmets can fetch thousands of dollars from collectors. An old sweater once owned by Vince Lombardi was bought at a garage sale for less than a dollar and later auctioned off in New York for $43,020.

Vintage Ornaments

Antique holiday decor like hand-blown glass Christmas tree ornaments can sometimes draw more than $1,000. In addition, old indoor and outdoor decorations like candy canes and nativity scenes are always in demand.


New electronics is old almost as soon as it’s purchased, even though there’s a market for early electronics like first-line Apple computers. One of the exceptions is functioning speakers. Speaker technology hasn’t changes much over the years and you can often find quality speakers for pennies.

Retro Appliances

There is a booming market for early appliances from the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s. Toasters and transistor radios are especially in demand if they still work. Look for period items like movie posters. If you’re not sure, whip out that smartphone to go on eBay to compare.

Vintage coffee cups

If the sale has a coffee table, look around for coffee mugs with vintage logos like Starbucks. The older they are, the more money they command.

Cast Iron

Even if it’s not that old, cast iron lasts for eternity. Give your grand kids a shot at selling that skillet for a fortune. Skillets made before 1950 have a very smooth finish, making them more non-stick than modern versions. Look for some indication of their manufacture for added value.

Fishing equipment

Antique lures can bring a thousand dollars or more to collectors. Buying and selling old rods and reels takes the eye of an expert, but there is good money to be made. Just do a little research.


Don’t worry if they’re dirty or rusty. Tools clean up easily and are almost always a good buy at garage sales.