In Praise of Garage Sales


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Yard sale, rummage sale, lawn sale, moving sale, junk sale — whatever you call it, garage sales are a common sight in every city and town across the U.S. Just how serious is this $2 billion-a-year business?

The History of Junk Sales


Rummage sales develop as ship captains sell excess and unclaimed cargo at ports.


Rummage sales move indoors, as churches use them to raise money

1940s and 1950s

Americans start moving to the suburbs, complete with garages and larger homes; the added space leads people to accumulate more belongings than they’d had during the Depression and World War II


Consumerism grows in the U.S., and garage sales become more common.


The Internet facilitates easier advertising for garage sales and junk goods.

We Brake for Yard Sales


Average number of people who purchase something at a garage sale each week.


Average number of garage sales listed on Craigslist each week.

7 a.m.

Best time to start a garage sale.


Best day to have a garage sale.


Average profit margin from items purchased and resold on eBay.

85 cents

Average price of a garage sale item.

690 miles

Length of “World’s Longest Yard Sale,” which runs along U.S. Route 127 from Michigan to Alabama; the sale is staged once a year.

Follow the Rules

In many cities and towns, garage and yard sales are free to stage. But some communities charge for permits.

Garage sale permit costs

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma $7

San Antonio, Texas $16

Long Beach, California $17


Maximum fine for conducting a garage sale without a license in Oklahoma City


Where residents of Beverly Hills must conduct garage sales, so they’re not visible from the street


Annual number of garage sales Dallas residents are allowed

Amazing Finds

Sometimes, patience pays off, as garage sales and thrift stores have been the site of some ridiculously valuable sales.

Original artboards for the first issue of the Avengers comic book

Bought for: $2

Actual value: $48,000

Declaration of Independence copy commissioned by John Quincy Adams

Bought for: $2.48

Actually worth: $477,000

Rejected Velvet Underground demo

Bought for: 75 cents

Actually worth: $155,000

Sketch by a 10-year-old Andy Warhol

Bought for: $5

Actually worth: Estimated $2 million

Box of Nintendo games

Bought for: $50

Actually worth: $50,000

1,000-year-old Chinese bowl

Bought for: $3

Actually worth: $2.2 million

18th century card table

Bought for: $25

Actually worth: $541,000