How to Profit From Garage Sale Ads

By Joe Waynick

When buying used books to sell online for a profit, knowing how to read garage sale ads is critical to being a successful bookseller.

There's nothing worse than going to a garage sale hoping to find a gold mine only to have wasted your time, effort, and gas when you could have been making money somewhere else.

With these easy garage sale tips, you'll be able to cut through much of the Internet clutter standing between you and your profits. You can quickly identify those garage sale ads mostly likely to lead you to profitable used books you can sell online.

Read Between the Lines

Ads for garage sales can be found in local newspapers as well as on websites that list garage sales online in your local area.

The first thing to look for when perusing ads is so simple you probably know it already, but very few remember to actually do it. When you search for sales, look for ads that specifically mention books.

While most sales have books of some sort, if an ad specifically mentions books the odds are there's going to be a lot of them. The more you have to choose from, the better garage sale bargains that you can find.

If you’re using a search engine or a local garage sale listings website to browse through ads, you can search by this specific parameter, which is a great time saver.

Determine the Motivation of the Seller(s)

One of the best things to look for if you’re a garage sale hunter is a “moving sale.” People who are moving are most likely getting rid of a lot of unwanted goods.

Many people have a basement full of old books that they have no interest in hauling across the country. Not only are you going to find a plethora of used books to choose from, but you'll be able to pick them up for very low prices.

If you see ads that mention moving in any capacity, put those local garage sales right at the top of your list. People who are moving and just looking to get rid of excess stuff are easy to bargain with and are unlikely to pay attention to rare editions and other treasures in the piles of less valuable books.

Reach Out and Touch Sellers – If Possible

If any of the garage sale ads you find offer a phone number or an eMail address, contact the seller before you make the trip. Ask if they’re selling books, and approximately how many they have available.

If they do have books, find out if they have textbooks, hardcovers, paperbacks, old magazines, etc. The more information you have, the better.

The one downside to being a garage sale hunter is that the job involves a lot of speculation, and sometimes you can guess wrong. Contacting the seller beforehand will help you allocate your time and resources more efficiently, and put more money in your pocket.


If you want to truly succeed in the used book business, thinking ahead and being prepared will put you well ahead of the competition.

When you read garage sale ads, remember these simple rules. It would even be wise to create a garage sale checklist. Using these ideas doesn’t cost you anything, but ignoring them might be an expensive mistake.

Good hunting!

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