Things Not to Buy at a Garage Sale

It is the height of the garage sale season and my little car has been hauling odds and ends from one end of town to the other! I have a special place in my heart for rocking chairs and if I can find one for a good price, I buy it! Then, I bring it home and paint it some exotic color and set it on my front porch. I found one last weekend for $10 and put it up on the painting table in my garage studio. The next morning, I threw open the door to the studio and a horrible smell came wafting out! I thought that I had forgotten to take out the garbage! After searching through everything possible, I discovered that it was the pad on the new rocking chair that was causing this stink! I ripped the pad off and threw it out of the studio! Within an hour there was no more bad smell! Garage sales are wonderful and fun, but you have to be careful about what you buy at them! I have made a list of items that over the years, I have discovered, you should think before buying!

Mattresses are pretty much a given that you don’t buy from a garage sale. First, they may be loaded with bed bugs! Usually, you don’t know the people who are having a garage sale and you don’t know where the mattress came from. There also might be mold, mites and bacteria lurking beneath the surface.

Upholstered furniture is the same as mattresses and I should have checked before I bought the upholstered seated rocking chair! Upholstered furniture can be home to bed bugs, fleas and spiders, as well as unknown odors and stains. If you are going to reupholster and take the piece down to its barebones first, stay clear of upholstered furniture!

People offer the most beautiful sheets and bedding at garage sales and sometimes it is hard to resist buying them. If you do purchase a set, make sure that you wash them in super hot water. This may help get rid of any bed bug eggs or any other unknown things.

Buying running shoes at a garage sale may be defeating the purpose. Unless they have never been used! A runner uses up the padding inside the shoes simply from the pounding. You need padding for not only your feet but your knees too.

Shoes like running shoes can get beat down because of use. They can also change shape. Used shoes have been molded to their previous owner’s feet.They may also have smells from sweat and dirt that you may not smell until they are on your feet for a while!

Although you may find a swimsuit that you love at a garage sale, it is probably a good idea to not buy it. These are pieces of clothing that hug someone’s body and even though you can wash it in hot water, bacteria can still live on the fabric. Also, chemicals such as chlorine in pools and sal in the ocean can dry out a swimsuit and it can tear and fall apart very easily.

Power tools are plentiful at garage sales. But, before you spend money on them, make sure you check their age, their wiring and their condition.

On occasion, you may come across a propane tank for sale. Some old propane tanks can’t be recycled but people still try to sell them. Propane tanks that are 20 pounds have 12 years from the manufacture date before they need to be recertified. It is better to buy one from a certified dealer.

Exercise equipment can be found by the truck load at garage sales, too. It can be all cleaned up and sparkly but you may not be able to figure out how much life is left in the treadmill and then it can be sold at your own garage sale!

There always seems to be lots of computers, laptops, tablets and mp3 players for sale at garage sales. Because so many things can ruin electronics like being dropped or spilled on and you have no idea about the history of the item, it is probably best to bypass them and buy new. Plus, the items are usually old enough that you have to upgrade and that costs more than buying new.

DVDs, CDs and VHS Tapes are found by the tonnage at sales and again they may have scratches and poor quality. VHS tapes lessen in quality the more times that they are played and they do disintegrate over time. Video Games are the same way with aging and they can have all sorts of problems with the amount of times the game was used.

Older TVs, just like the other electronics, can be hard to determine how well they have been cared for by their previous owners. And, technology changes so quickly that you can often get a better quality TV for a good price.

Helmets at garage sales are also fairly common. The problem with buying them is that they are designed to protect your head from one accident and once accident only. So, the helmet may fit your head but you may not be able to see any damage that might have been done to it. Since you only have one head, it is probably best to opt out of the sale!

Child car seats are just like helmets. They get damaged if there is some kind of accident and are unusable afterwards. New car seats protect your child better than ones found at a garage sale and every time you look, there is new technology that makes the seat better than ever.

Baby bottles are something else not to buy at a garage sale. Just for the simple reason of sanitation is a good enough reason not to buy but there could also be cracks with old bacteria or chemicals still lingering.

I love to collect old plates and other dishes and cookware. Some pieces I use just for decor and others I will mix and match with my usable collections. Worn dishes and cookware needs to be looked at very closely. If non stick coatings are chipping or scraped away, then, just use as decoration. Blenders and other electric kitchen appliance have to be looked over closely too. They may not have the same sparkle as in years past and there may be an electric problem. You don’t want to catch your house on fire or get and electrical shock to your hand!  

Makeup and perfumes are questionable purchases at garage sales. The quality of them can lessen over the years even if they are brand new and still in their wrappers. They can cause skin infections that are not very pleasant!

Old vinyl records, games and puzzles and Christmas lights are found at garage sales by the table full. If you want to buy them and use them, you will have to look for scratches, missing pieces and burned out bulbs. The condition of these items may be important to you depending on what they are going to be used for. In my case, most puzzle pieces I use in my artwork and collages or making jewelry. I have melted old vinyl records to make potato chip bowls and funny hats for costumes. But, if you are a collector and are going to resell records, then pristine  condition is important for value and price. Christmas lights also pose problems because they may simply be cheaper to buy new than trying to figure out which little light is blown out on an old string!

Garage sales are fun. That is why I go to them weekly. I normally set a budget and vow I will not go over. So, when I find a treasure, I always think twice if it is worth it to take the item home, wash it well and repaint, fix and display. Sometimes, it is just better to walk away and buy new!

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