Garage sales and estate sales are two popular ways to get rid of unwanted items, find bargain deals, and make some extra cash in the process. While they may seem similar, there are some key differences between the two. Join us as we take a closer look at what makes them different, where you can find them, and how each sale structures its pricing.
What Is a Garage Sale?
A garage sale — also known as a yard, moving, or tag sale — is a sale where individuals sell items they no longer want or need from their own property. Typically, garage sales are held on weekends to allow for more flexibility and involve setting up tables or displays in a driveway, garage, or yard. Garage sales are usually smaller in scale compared to estate sales and are geared towards selling items that are no longer needed or wanted by the homeowners or renters.
What Is an Estate Sale?
An estate sale, on the other hand, is a sale of personal property that takes place after someone has passed away or is downsizing their belongings. Estate sales are typically much larger than garage sales and are often held inside the home of the deceased person or at a separate venue. They can last for multiple days and usually have a larger variety of items for sale, including antiques, furniture, family heirlooms, and collectibles.
Estate sales are usually conducted by a professional company or auctioneer that specializes in organizing and running the sale, though they may also be hosted by the family or by someone appointed by the estate owner.
Where To Find Garage and Estate Sales Near You
There are many ways to find garage and estate sales near you, including local listings such as Craigslist, BizBuySell, Facebook Marketplace, and EstateSales.net. These platforms allow individuals to post their upcoming sales and provide details such as the date, time, and location. Additionally, local newspapers often have classified sections dedicated to garage and estate sales.
Many estate sale companies also advertise their upcoming sales through these outlets, and will often provide details such as the types of items that will be available and whether there will be any restrictions on entry or bidding.
Social media is also a great resource for finding local sale groups or pages. These groups frequently post information about upcoming garage or estate sales — enabling members to communicate with each other regarding the kinds of items that will be sold and discuss logistics such as transportation or pick-up arrangements.
Lastly, keep an eye out for garage and estate sale signs while driving or walking in your neighborhood, as some may not be advertised through online or print channels. Neighbors will oftentimes place signs around the vicinity to attract potential buyers and draw attention to their sales.
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Differences in Pricing (and One Mind-Warping Estate Sale)
Pricing for garage and estate sales can vary depending on the items being sold and the location of the sale. In general, garage sales tend to have lower prices since they are typically selling items that are no longer needed or wanted by the homeowners. Estate sales often have higher prices since they are selling higher-end items such as vintage home decor, jewelry, and rare antiques.
One notable estate sale was that of late Hollywood starlet, Elizabeth Taylor. In December 2011, Julien's Auctions held a four-day auction of Taylor's personal belongings at the iconic Beverly Hills Hotel in California. The auction included over 1,000 items, ranging from Taylor's glitzy jewelry collection to clothing, art, and furniture. The auction was so highly anticipated that it drew in thousands of bidders from all around the world, with the highest-selling item — a 16th-century pearl once owned by England’s Mary Tudor and later by Spanish queens Margarita and Isabel (the item was a gift from Taylor's then-husband Richard Burton) — netting a staggering $11.8 million.
In total, the auction brought in over $156 million, with a portion of the proceeds going to the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation. Taylor's estate sale was not only a testament to her personal style and legacy, but also a demonstration of the enduring allure of celebrity memorabilia.
Advantages of Garage and Estate Sales
One of the biggest advantages of garage sales is the ability to sell items quickly and easily. They're also a great way to get rid of clutter and turn unwanted items into cash. In addition, garage sales can provide an opportunity to interact with neighbors and other members of the community.
Estate sales, on the other hand, typically offer a larger selection of items for sale — including higher-end, unique, and rare items such as antiques and collectibles. Since estate sales are usually conducted by a professional company, the sales will likely be more organized, and you can expect items to be appropriately priced. (Unless you find yourself at a celebrity estate sale.)
The Bottom Line
Whether you're in the market for a unique piece of home decor or looking to declutter your home to make room for spring and summer cleaning, both garage sales and estate sales can provide fantastic opportunities for finding rare or one-of-a-kind items at great prices.
While garage sales typically tend to be smaller and more casual, estate sales can offer a wider variety of high-end items — allowing you to own a piece of someone's past. However, shopping at both garage and estate sales can enable you to discover treasures that you may not find anywhere else, while also providing a chance to interact with members of your community.
By taking advantage of online and print listings, you can make the most out of your next garage or estate sale adventure.
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