Once spring rolls around, there are certain indicators that let you know it’s here, even if you’re an urban dweller and thus unlikely to see any red red robins come bob-bob-bobbin’ along. What you will see, no matter where you live, is pastel-colored clothing in store windows, asparagus-filled supermarket produce bins, and signs for garage and/or yard sales on every street corner.
Do these signs get you all excited? Do you feel like you’re maybe going to find yourself in an episode of American Pickers, scoring the deal of the century on an amazing antique you scoop up for pocket change? Umm, yeah, probably not gonna happen — don’t you know those shows are all a big fake? You may be able to find a few trashy treasures of your own without shelling out too much money, but there are still some items that you really ought to steer clear of.
Be cautious about garage sale cookware and kitchen appliances
The Dave Ramsey money blog warns that most pots and pans being offered for sale aren’t worth the few pennies you may pay for them (and definitely not any more than that). Their non-stick coating has most likely quit doing its job, their handles may be loose, and they may even have a few rust spots.
Garage sale kitchen appliances are also not recommended. For one thing, how can you test them to see if they power on? Even if the hosts kindly allow you access to an electrical outlet, there are still defects that may remain hidden until the appliance is put to use. A blender may have dulled blades, a toaster may burn your bread on one side, and a coffee maker may leak. Any appliance could have a worn out cord that could transform it into a fire hazard. It’s a lot cheaper to buy a new whatever at Walmart than to pay the cost of repairing a fire-damaged home.
Skip buying shoes at garage sales
While most types of clothing on offer at a yard sale should be relatively safe to purchase, Cheat Sheet does caution against the discomfort lurking in a pair of used shoes. It seems that, once they’re worn a few times, shoes tend to conform to their wearer’s feet, and everybody’s feet are different so those shoes are unlikely to be a good fit for you. If you come across a super-rare pair of Air Jordans going for a few bucks, then sure, snap those puppies right up! But if you’re looking for shoes you plan to wear every day, a garage sale is not where you should be shopping.
Dave Ramsey points out that running shoes, especially, are to be avoided. The whole point and purpose of these shoes is to provide cushioning that will support not only your feet, but also your legs and knees as you run. A used pair, however, is likely to have much of that cushioning worn out. Running for your health is all well and good, but it’s really best to do it in a new pair of shoes.
Better pass on board games and puzzles at garage sales
Do you want to be really, really frustrated next time it’s family game night? Or are you perhaps a passive-aggressive teen looking to sabotage that occasion of unwanted togetherness? If so, by all means buy a board game at a garage sale. There’s a good chance at least a few key pieces will be missing, and that’s bound to put a hitch in your game play. If, on the other hand, you actually do enjoy playing board games with or without the entire family, then used games should be eschewed.
This caveat also extends to jigsaw puzzles. Are you really going to stand there and count to see if all 500 pieces are still in the box? Spoiler alert: they aren’t. And it’s unlikely the garage owners are going to let you into their house to hunt for the missing pieces where they most likely reside, stuck between couch cushions. (Although if there’s a couch that’s also offered for sale, you could always check there.)
Garage sale baby gear is always a no-no
Almost any garage sale thrown by anyone who’s ever had children is going to feature an assortment of long-outgrown baby items. Baby clothing is actually one of the best things you can buy used, since it tends to be worn for a very brief period of time before being outgrown. Anything else meant for babies, though, you should probably steer clear of.
Kiplinger lists car seats as one of the 10 worst things to buy at a yard sale, since it turns out that these actually have expiration dates — who knew? Also, a used car seat may not meet current safety standards, and if it has ever been involved in an accident, it is no longer capable of providing the minimum level of protection required to keep your baby from being hurt. Reader’s Digest also recommends you not buy a used crib, as these are frequently recalled due to safety hazards. What’s more, baby bottles could be full of bacteria, toys may present potential choking hazards, and bedding could be contaminated with (ugh) bedbugs. Yes, baby gear can be expensive, but when it comes to your little one’s safety, it’s not worth taking a risk to save a bit of money.
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