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Wisconsin Parent

**Updated** The 2014 Wisconsin Garage Sale Season Is Here!

Apr 10, 2013 11:06PM ● By Dannelle Gay
To me, Wisconsin has two seasons: Winter and Garage Sale.

The thrill of the hunt, the little burst of joy when you score an awesome deal, even the simple conversation you have with other people...I could go on and on about what I love about garage sales!

The best perk? When you have little people, it can be one of the thriftiest ways to cloth them AND find other "treasures".

Here are some tips to make it as successful as possible when you are on the hunt:

1) Know what you are after! Are you like me and "stockpiling" clothes for your kids, getting things that they will grow into, for a fraction of the new cost at a store? Dresses, turtle necks, even winter coats and snow pants! The trick is: KNOW what you already have and what you need to "fill in" the holes. If I like my daughter to have five basic turtlenecks (red, white, navy, black, fun print) then I need to know WHICH ones I still need to buy. Don't forget those other items like home decor, furniture, etc. This is like making a grocery list. You have to take a look at what you already have and figure out what you still need. Make that list and stick to it. If I don't have a list, I will end up with nine white turtlenecks and that is just a waste of both money and my time.

yard sale2) Start with a budget in mind. 

There might be a great deal that you stumble across, but if it is something you really can't afford, it's no bargain! You can take it a step further and break your budget down into categories. Maybe you are looking for a new china hutch? You need to figure out how much you are willing to spend for one. Are you buying clothes for the kiddos? What is your wardrobe allowance? You get the idea. I shoot for $300 for the entire season. Once it is gone, I am done hitting the sales.

3) Narrow down your search!

Time is money and gas isn't free, so let's talk about a "plan of attack."

I like to use Yard Sale Treasure Map - A Yard Sale Planning Tool or Yard Sale Search to help me pull out the ONLY the sales that have the items I am actually looking for. They also help you make a "trip tick" so you use your gas in the most effective way possible, by creating a driving route for you.

4) Pack Snacks

Garage Sale HereYou can kill your budget quickly if you forget to pack munchies. Drive throughs are not healthy or inexpensive—they also take time out of your precious shopping time! That ten minute detour could mean that someone beats you to that next sale and scoops your potential bargains.

Now, let's talk City Wide Garage Sales!

You still have your list, your budget, your snacks and have made your driving map. Here is my greatest tip: Keep track of where you hit it big! Most neighborhoods have a map of the sales. If I hit a house and found a lot of cute things for Miss Sarah, and at good prices, I highlight it on the citywide map and it becomes one of the first places I hit the following year! Chances are, those people will be there the following year, with another sale and more items that will soon fit my daughter.

Other ideas?

Think crafty! Garage sales can be a great way to stock up on art supplies and craft projects —canvases can be painted over, you can find deals on beads, yarn, stamps, even markers and paints. I also LOVE the FREE boxes!! (Yes, we have a million Mardi Gras style beads...)

Is it a Money Maker?  I occasionally see gorgeous little girl's dresses for $1 or less and and they are too small for Miss Sarah. I still get them, mark them $4-5 and sell them at the children's resale events for a nice little profit. It's not a lot of money, but 10-15 items can add up fast in your favor!

Now that you are almost as excited as I am, I have the "big list" for you—the confirmed city wide garage sales for Wisconsin 2014!

  • 4/24 Viroqua,Warrens, Dodgeville,  Darlington, Lodi, Johnson Creek, Mt Horeb, Benton, Ripon, Footville, Lone Rock
  • 5/1 Sun Prairie, Cross Plains, Cuba City, Richland Center, Tomah, Lake Mills, Lancaster, Jefferson, Boscobal, Rice Lake, Howard's Grove, Belleville, Shullsburg, Mayville, New London, Orfordville, Hurley,
  • 5/8 Marshall, Waunakee, Verona, Plattville, Monroe, Weyauwega, Edgerton, Schofield, Galesville, Wilton
  • 5/15 Barneveld, Black Earth, Reedsburg, Ashland, Hazel Green, Kaukauna, Seymour, Whitewater, Waupun, Watertown, DeForest, Fennimore
  • 5/22 Boulder Junction, East Troy
  • 5/29 Baraboo
  • 6/6 Brodhead, Bloomer, LaFarge, Harmony Grove
  • 6/13 Mazomanie, Horicon, Oxford
  • 6/20 St Germain, Mercer
  • 7/11 New Glarus, Algoma
  • 8/1 Mauston, Sparta, Evansville
  • 8/8 Monroe
  • 8/15 Mineral Point, New London
  • 9/13 Monticello
  • 9/20 Janesville
  • 10/3 Viroqua

Happy Bargain Hunting!