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CAUTION: 7 Things You Can’t Sell at a Garage Sale

If you’re anything like most people, you’ve likely got a few things lying around that you haven’t used in years. Hosting a garage sale can be an excellent way to make a few extra bucks and free up space.

With enough items, you could be sitting on quite the nest egg in your garage or storage unit. However, there are some items that you can’t, or shouldn’t, sell.

Today, we have seven things that you shouldn’t put on your table at a garage sale.

Let’s dive in!

What Is a Garage Sale?

A garage sale is when individuals transform their garage space into a temporary shopping experience to sell items they no longer need. It’s not uncommon to see signs promoting garage sales, especially on the weekends.

There’s no telling what you’ll find at a garage sale, as some underestimate the value of the items they have. In addition, you have to be careful not to overpay for things, as some sellers also overestimate the value of the items they have for sale.

What Is the Difference Between a Yard Sale and a Garage Sale?

While yard and garage sales are very similar, their most significant difference is where they take place. It may seem obvious, but a yard sale takes place in a yard, and a garage sale takes place in a garage.

However, the terms are often used interchangeably as sometimes sales take place in both the garage space and the yard. In addition, people also often refer to these events as rummage or moving sales.

What Sells Best at a Garage Sale?

Clothes are one of the most sought-after items at garage sales. People are looking for deals on gently-used clothing, especially for kids and babies. In addition, power tools, sports equipment, and small appliances are hot-ticket items, especially if they’re in excellent condition.

The famous saying, “One man’s junk is another man’s treasure,” rings true with many yard sales. You never know what people will be willing to buy, especially if it’s in good condition. You may not value it anymore, but a shopper coming through your sale may be looking for that exact item. It’s a win-win transaction for both the buyer and seller.

Pro Tip: Keep in mind these 5 Things to Avoid When Thrifting for Home Decor.

Two women shopping at garage sale
Make some extra cash by hosting a garage sale.

7 Things You Can’t Sell at a Garage Sale

While there are many different things you can sell in a garage sale, there are some that you can’t. Some items are unsafe or unwise to buy used, so you don’t want to sell them. Unfortunately, in some circumstances, you could open yourself up to serious legal troubles if you do. Let’s see what items you want to exclude from your garage sales.

1. Makeup

Used makeup should never be in a garage sale. You can transfer bacteria through makeup and other skincare products. If you have makeup in your garage sale, you should ensure it isn’t expired, be in the original packaging, and have all of the safety seals.

2. Mattresses

Mattresses get a lot of use and can absorb sweat and other bodily fluids if not properly cared for. As a result, many states strictly ban the sale of used mattresses. Rules and regulations vary considerably from state to state. In addition, some states leave it up to the counties. Check with your local health department to confirm the legalities specific to where you live.

However, we suggest properly disposing of an old mattress you no longer need. The few bucks you’ll make from it aren’t worth the potential health risks. In addition, it could cause buyers to develop concerns about the hygiene and cleanliness of other items.

3. Car Seats

Car seats carry precious and priceless cargo, which means you want to ensure they’re as safe as possible. In addition, they expire, and often experience recalls, so you need to do some homework to check if a used car seat is still valid. However, like a bed, car seats can often contain sweat and other bodily fluids from kids. 

After months or years of use, even if you do your best to keep them clean, they can become hotbeds of bacteria. Not only do you want kids to be safe in an accident, but you also don’t want them strapped into a car seat filled with a stranger’s bacteria and germs.

Because car seats are safety devices, you could be setting yourself up for legal troubles by selling a car seat in your garage sale. If the buyer were involved in an accident and something were to happen due to the car seat, you could be held responsible for selling a defective car seat.

Even if you’re ultimately not responsible, any money you make from the sale will likely be insufficient to pay for the expenses to defend yourself.

4. Bike Helmets

Similar to selling a car seat, bike helmets are another safety device that you shouldn’t sell in a garage sale. The materials in a bike helmet can experience wear and tear, which reduces their effectiveness. It could cause legal trouble if someone gets hurt due to a faulty bike helmet. Not only do you want that on your conscience, but you don’t want the stress of defending yourself in a legal battle.

garage sale sign
Keep in mind you can’t put everything out for sale at your garage sale.

5. Computers

Computers can contain a tremendous amount of personal information that someone could use for nefarious purposes, including stealing your identity. Even if you reset and reformat the computer, there are programs that brainy computer users can use to recover data.

If you have a computer you no longer need or that no longer functions, it’s best to back up all of the data on the hard drive, destroy the hard drive, and then turn the computer into a recycling program. This protects you from any potential issues down the road with your personal information getting into the hands of someone up to no good.

6. Baby Bottles

Old baby bottles contain BPA, which can harm humans, especially babies. In addition, many buyers may question your garage sale as they don’t know how good of a job you did cleaning and maintaining them. It’s not worth worrying about contamination issues or health concerns. Instead of putting these in your garage sale, you can often recycle or discard these items.

7. Running Shoes

If you’re using running shoes, there’s a good chance you’re sweating in them. Running shoes can soak up sweat into them and become full of bacteria. In addition, if the shoes are no longer in good enough condition for you to use, a stranger isn’t likely going to want them.

Many running stores and sports shops have bins where shoppers can donate used shoes for recycling. Since shoes contain many materials, including rubber, shoes that get recycled can be used for many purposes, including building playgrounds and sports courts.

Pro Tip: While shopping garage sales, keep an eye out for these Best RV Cookware Pieces.

Are Garage Sales Worth It?

Garage sales typically are a tremendous amount of work, but they can generate a little cash and free up space in your home. If you have items that have been sitting for years or that you no longer need, a garage sale is worth it.

However, you need to be honest about the value of items. Overpricing items will drastically reduce your sales and make them not worth the hassle. So do yourself a favor and set your garage sale up for success by offering clean and in good condition items at a reasonable price.

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