The Saturday Weekly Review

Should There Be A Garage Sale Return Policy? – The Saturday Weekend Review #254

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should there be a garage sale return policy



A garage sale return policy isn’t as bad a bad idea but if you do it right nothing will have to be returned. If you’ve ever had a garage sale deal gone wrong or felt ripped off because the item you purchased didn’t work I have some ideas so it never happens again. For the sellers, I’ve also got you covered with ideas that might offset any potential issues at your garage sale.

Should you expect what you purchase at a garage sale to work?

Of course it should especially if the seller assures you that it works. The problem with trusting what someone says is that they aren’t always sure themselves and there are shady people out there that don’t care if you aren’t smart enough to ask about testing the product.

When you spend your money at Home Depot, Wal-Mart, Canadian Tire and so on if something doesn’t work you return the item with the receipt and they will refund you the money as per their return policy guidelines. When you go to garage sales there is no return policy because you buy at your own risk.

Here’s the thing, why would I spend $10 at a garage sale to buy an item that costs $20 at Canadian Tire that comes with a receipt and return policy. I’m 100% assured that I will get a product that works or my money back. Alternatively at a garage sale I may have just blown $10 out the window if there was no way to test that item before closing the sale.

There has to be SOME protection for the buyers and the sellers.

If you are a smart buyer and a seller who wants to move stuff fast generally you will be open to working with the buyers to make them feel comfortable that the items they buy in fact work. Today I want to talk about how buyers and sellers can protect themselves from buying faulty items and decrease the possibility of angry buyers returning for revenge. You got that right, upset the wrong person and they WILL be back for their money.

You know how most people need an alarm clock to get up for work? Well, when garage season begins I have Jen, she’s my garage sale alert system. Garage sales are back! That was the email I received from CBB fan Jen Peacock last week who loves her community garage sales.

Garage Sale Deals Jen 2018 May 1

Hi Mr. CBB and Fans,

Here’s today’s garage sale deals.

  • IKEA pod chair, mini measuring tape and stress ball (not pictured) $3 (the chair alone retails for $80!!!)
  • Sports bra (brand new with tags) $3 (asking was $4)
  • Kids hat and mitts $.50
  • Bulldozer flashlight $1
  • Toaster oven (like new!) $8 (asking was $10 – Ken desperately needs one for work)

Total spent $15.50

I got a few more deals but they were either for my parents or my son with their money lol. They like me to barter for them.

Thanks, Jen 🙂

If you’ve been reading CBB over the years you’ve been able to see all the amazing deals she’s found. Bartering is her signature trait when it comes to saving money for her family. There is no shame in trying to save money and she knows how easy it is to make an offer, counter-offer when needed and then seal the deal.

In fact, she’s inspired me to start visiting local yard sales in our area this summer since I no longer work on weekends. Mrs. CBB is overjoyed with my desire to rummage through others junk because she adores finding deals just as much as I do. With the passing of my father-in-law we have been knee-deep in valuables he’s collected over the past 65 years which is hard to comprehend unless you see it.

On that note we realized that people truly find value in what they keep whether it be a memory or potential use for something else. Then there are times where the collections grow to the point where it’s time to let go and downsize. Not everyone has the patience nor time for garage sales but for those that do there is money to be made.

Garage sale pricing varies from person to person and to be honest there is no value book that will give you the answers you need. My advice is either you know what you paid for something and you decide what you want for it or Google it and go from there. There will almost always be negotiations whether you price items low or higher.


Second-hand shopping return policy


I’m one of those guys that finds far less at the second-hand shops than Mrs. CBB apart from CD’s as that’s my passion but the other day I found what seemed to be a brand new skill saw priced for $7.99. Any handyman or handywoman would know at that price it’s a steal but ONLY if it works.

skill saw value village

The good thing about Value Village, Goodwill and other second-hand shops in our area is that they have a testing station for electronics. This means you can bring the item you want to buy and test it before you make the purchase.

At Value Village you can return the item provided it doesn’t say, ‘No Returns’ on the label which is easy to miss if you’re not looking. At the Goodwill all sales are final no exceptions and they do offer a testing station as well.

It’s in your best interest to test the product before spending your money.

So, I tested the skill saw and voila it worked perfectly so into the shopping cart it went. I can’t even buy a replacement blade for that price so I was happy to purchase it. The retail was just over $50 plus taxes.

Testing purchases got me thinking about all the garage sales I’ve been to over the years here and in the UK and not one of them offered a testing station at all. I’ve never even seen a sign that suggested that any electronics could be tested. Obviously you could ask the seller but most people won’t which means you as a buyer risk not selling stuff that you WANT to get rid of.

In my opinion, it would be beneficial for both the buyers and seller. If an item doesn’t work the seller should not sell it or label it as non-functional to be transparent and fair. Personally, I’d feel better as a seller to go that extra step for my buyers. The pros for the homeowner means you can ask more money and peace of mind for the buyers which means more sales. Holding a garage sale should not be about who is dumb enough to purchase our junk, rather it’s about passing on items of use to those who need it for less.


Garage Sale Return Policy


There are two ways that I can think of to protect the buyer and seller at a garage sale and it’s easy enough to do. First of all if you plan to host a garage sale find a second or even third body to help you out. If you are tending to one customer others may be walking away.

testing station at Value VillageOffer a testing station for any electronics including running machines to test whether they actually work or not. This might be inside your garage or an outlet on the outside of your house.

What I mean by this is some items may turn on and sound great BUT do they actually work. Once the buyer confirms that something works once they pay that’s it, you’ve bought it.

No returns.

Sounds fair enough. You want to avoid having strangers going into your house if you can help it so forget that option even if they ask to come in.

The second option is to have various batteries that fit the items you are selling that are battery operated. Have the buyer do what they need to do to see if the item works, remove the batteries and then barter their way to a sale with you.

The process is easy as long as you keep a few screwdrivers on a table where this can take place.

If you choose not to have some form of a return policy in place or verbally agree to it with buyers than at the least offer a station where testing can be done.

The name of the game is to downsize so do it right and you will have no hassles on your hands. There is no reason to be shady and play the oh well it’s your loss if you buy it game. Imagine if it were you and what you would feel like bringing home a toy for your kid only to find it doesn’t work.

I love going to garage sales and in the next couple of weeks we will be holding a garage sale of our own and we do plan on having a testing station for buyers because WE CARE. If you don’t want it done to you then don’t do it to someone else. If you are in an area where testing is not available then yes allow the buyer a same day return policy or let them know they are buying at risk as you have not tested it. In this case I’d offer a deep discount.

You could also test everything before you lay it out for sale with a sign that states, ‘tested’. Most buyers would like to see it work but if you are at a community yard sale you might not have that option. There is no reason why a station couldn’t be set up for all sellers and buyers if planning ahead.


  • Offer a testing station for electronics
  • Offer various batteries for testing
  • Offer tools such as screwdrivers to use for testing purposes

You can either do the testing as the seller or allow the buyer to do so but personally, I would do it myself. If anything were to happen then perhaps your home owners insurance would cover it. I’d call to make sure first because you never know. Most homeowners must realize that if someone gets hurt on their property during a garage sale they may be liable for that as well. There is risk in everything so being an informed homeowner and consumer is your best options.

Sounds daft, however these days you don’t want to leave anything to risk if you can help it. Times have changed and if it can happen it WILL HAPPEN so protect yourself and your money. If you aren’t convinced that a homeowner will offer you buying protection then bring the protection with you and test it yourself. If they don’t let you then walk away! It’s that easy.

Here are more of my most popular garage sale posts for your reading pleasure.

The Ultimate Guide For Garage Sales Series

Discussion: Should homeowners provide a testing station for buyers or a garage sale return policy?


CBB at Home


As you may have noticed I’ve slimmed down the amount of posts I’ve put on the blog lately for 2 reasons, well 3. We have been downsizing my mother-in-laws castle and it has been a battle, a bit one. There is SO MUCH STUFF not to mention taking care of the land that the house sits on. We are not even close to being finished so we will be back and forth all summer or until it’s done. She’s not doing well either which is a double, perhaps triple whammy.

Mrs. CBB is not doing well either and we had her at the hospital this past week but hopefully she will be on the mend now slowly. It seems she will also be going to either a chiropractor or osteopath but she is worried about both. Her back is not in good shape at the moment and possibly hereditary as her father had the same disc issues.

I’m also getting quotes for a new fence as the wind took half of it down which really was no big deal as we knew it had to get done. It’s old and leaning but just another task I have to get in front of now. I was going to do the job myself but I just can’t with all that is going on. Any fence tips appreciated though as we get estimates!

I’ve managed to get the front garden going and trimmed everything up so it looks presentable. Now I have to find some ferns to hang and away we go. I also cleared out a huge path in our garage so we can now move a bit freely. Our little guy is starting to play outside more and likes hanging out in the garage when it rains to play. The big chunk of space is taken up by basemen renovation materials.

On a good note our little guy is going to school this Sept and he has a class retreat booked which I’m sure he will be fine at, fingers crossed. They sure do grow up quickly.

That’s all for now friends,



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