Valuables To Look For at Garage and Yard Sales | the ReFab Diaries

There’s nothing better than a good garage or yard sale. On top of saving money and helping to keep things out of the landfill, you never know what you might you find! That mint condition tennis racket you’ve always wanted (much cheaper than buying it new!), or maybe the perfect lamp for your living room.

Valuables To Look For at Garage and Yard Sales


And then, of course, there's the treasure hunt aspect of it all. The possibility of finding something really valuable. From antique silverware to vintage furniture, here are some of my favorite valuables to look for at garage and yard sales.




Le Creuset and Pyrex, anyone? While kitchenware isn’t something we normally think of in terms of treasure, these (expensive!) functional pieces are hidden diamonds in the rough. Look for brightly-colored Le Creuset casserole dishes, Dutch ovens, and even frying pans. Pyrex finds may include glass measuring cups, storage containers, and bakeware. And vintage Pyrex?! That's a double whammy when it comes to valuable things.




The holy grail of any garage sale is great old furniture. Why? Because older pieces were generally made of real wood - not particle board and laminates. And anything made of solid wood is still solid, can be repaired, and can either be sanded and stained or painted. 

There are so many ways to transform slightly scuffed and damaged pieces into modern treasures. Dressers, hutches, and tables are fun ones—apply a fresh coat of paint and switch out the hardware. Upholstered finds can be great to flip, too—but you need to keep an eye out for bed bugs. Regardless of the furniture you find, once you flip it, you’ll likely make a big return on your investment (or keep it for yourself)!



One of my favorite refabs above. I paid $35 for the pair and reupholstered them myself. I later found out that they're holywood regency chairs worth a couple of hundred dollars each.




One lesson I’ve learned is not to skip over jewelry too quickly—it’s possible that there’s a real treasure underneath all the tarnish. Look for silver marks stamped into the back and, obviously, 9 or 18 carat marks for gold. 

Make sure you clean heavily tarnished silver carefully since you don’t want to strip off the plating or purposeful oxidation accidentally.

The craziest story I’ve heard about jewelry garage sale finds is one where a woman bought what she thought was a piece of costume jewelry for a few dollars. It turns out that the massive gemstone wasn’t fake; it was the real deal! When she had it appraised, it was worth almost one million dollars.



Vintage Christmas Ornaments

It’s easy to throw out a box of old ornaments nobody uses anymore. Keep an eye out for these finds, especially at estate sales! Look for heavy ornaments made from blown glass. Referred to as “kugels,” these 19th-century finds can bring you up to $1,000! This makes Christmas ornaments one of the really fun valuables to look for at garage and yard sales!



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