What you still can buy cheap that is worth much more
Antique and collectible prices finally are rebounding from the recession, improving the odds that garage sale finds can be flipped for a profit. Below are six often-overlooked garage sale items that are increasing in value.
Helpful: If you’re not sure what an item looks like, do an online search for it and the year.
Printed cloth handkerchiefs from the 1970s and earlier. Handkerchiefs tend to sell for pennies at garage sales, but those with nice patterns and colors have value to quilters. Particularly distinctive examples even can be framed as art. The finest examples are hand-hemmed and made of fine linen or cotton.
Example: A child’s handkerchief from the 1970s featuring the picture of a comic duck sells for $18.
Similar: Scarves from designers such as Hermès or Marimekko may be sold for very little at garage sales but can be worth hundreds, particularly if the pattern is rare and beautiful.
Williamsburg-style wood furniture from the 1950s and early 1960s. This furniture isn’t trendy—it has an old-fashioned colonial look—but it is timeless and made completely from solid wood. That sets it apart from much of today’s wood furniture, which may be laminated particleboard and has pressed-board backs and drawer bottoms. Pieces from respected makers such as Baker, Beacon Hill and Kittinger are climbing in value as furniture buyers seek quality and durability.
Example: 1960s mahogany library steps by Kittinger brings around $300.
Psychedelic posters from the late 1960s and early 1970s. Those that feature colorful psychedelic graphics, cite specific concert dates and have pinholes in the corners tend to be worth the most. A lack of pinholes (or other signs of age and use) might mean that the poster is a modern reproduction.
Example: A Peter Max poster from 1968 called “Love” sells for $316.
Fisher-Price toys. Kids have been enjoying Fisher-Price toys for generations—and they’re often handed down from generation to generation. Look for ones in pristine condition to have value.
Example: A Fisher-Price Doggy Racer with no plastic parts, in excellent condition, brings $390.
Also, keep an eye out for Fisher-Price “Little People” from the 1980s or earlier. In excellent condition, they can bring $2 each…wooden ones $5 or more. You sometimes find bags containing dozens of them at garage sales for $1 or so.
Modern Swedish glass. Glass from Swedish glassworks Kosta and Orrefors (both now part of Orrefors Kosta Boda) has quietly been increasing in value of late. It typically is contemporary in style—whether it is a bowl or an art piece—and much heavier than other glass.
Look closely at the bottom of any stylish, well-made glass item you find in garage sales—these makers usually etch their names into their products but generally in extremely tiny, easy-to-miss print.
Example: A rare five-inch-by-eight-inch sculpture of a head by Kosta sold for $5,625 to a serious collector.
Decorative garden items. Bird feeders, birdhouses, fountains and iron garden sets have become increasingly more valuable.
Example: A vintage set of garden chairs can bring $500 to $1,000.
Helpful: People who have garage sales sometimes forget to include yard items—they just stock their sale with stuff from their attics and basements. Take a peek into the backyard. If you see a nice garden item, ask if it’s for sale, too.