If you're lucky (and like to rummage), you can score a great deal at a garage sale, but not everything is worth the low price. Here are a few things you should avoid or be wary of when shopping for local bargains.
First, avoid buying used helmets, child seats and cribs. The prices for baby items and protective gear may be cheap, but their safety is unverified, so it's not worth the risk. If you're looking at a used toy, do a quick search on your smartphone to make sure it hasn't been recalled, and check that it has all of its original parts.
Although safety is generally not an issue when it comes to secondhand furniture, you still want to protect your wallet. Tables, chairs and desks can cost you an arm and a leg to repair if you don't look closely.
Chairs and sofas can also end up costing a bundle if they need to be reupholstered. Avoid chipped or missing glass tabletops, too, as they can be complicated and costly to restore.
So, the next time you hit a neighborhood garage sale, remember these key buying tips. You'll know when to keep your eyes open and your wallet closed.
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When it comes to your safety, you should never shop secondhand. Minor scratches or dings in helmets that you might be unable to spot right away can cause their safety rating to fall.
Cribs can stand a lot of abuse from cranky toddlers, but you want to make sure your children aren't put in danger by a potentially damaged bed. According to The New York Times, issues with unsafe cribs led to 150 deaths between 2007 and 2010.
Buying tip:Squidoo recently put together a list of the top ten baby cribs for 2013.
Any small defect in a secondhand laptop will only get exacerbated over time. You also don't have the luxury of a warranty or customer service guarantee if you don't buy it new yourself.
Buying tip: If you are looking to buy something on the cheaper side, most retailers offer refurbished products that are still covered by warranties. And major electronics stores like Best Buy offer steep discounts on display models. Call around to ask beforehand.
Many websites advise against buying shoes used because they've probably already been formed to the foot of the person who wore them before you. Especially with running shoes, this could lead to discomfort or injuries.
Buying tip:Duke Health recommends taking a good look at the sole and arch of your next pair of athletic shoes to make sure you get the best fit.
Blenders require their blades to be super sharp to be functioning at their best. If you buy one secondhand, it might take longer for the duller parts to puree the berries and bananas going into your smoothie.
Besides the hygiene issues that come with a secondhand swimsuit, these garments tend to wear out very quickly. Your bikini won't do a good job covering you up if it starts to get saggy the first time it's hit by a wave.
Buying tip: If you're looking to invest in a bathing suit that won't go out of style in one season, look at style guides like these to help you make a wise purchase.
Wet suits need to fit well and they often wear out over time, making them less likely to keep you warm underwater. The suits aren't cheap, but don't risk getting chilly on your next scuba trip with a used one.
Vacuums are one of the most-used appliances and they don't last forever. If you need something that still has the suction power to clean the dust around your whole house, it might be best to buy a new one yourself.
Buying tip: If you do want to save money by buying used, make sure you test it beforehand and follow these other tips, too.
Software usually only has codes to be used on a limited number of computers, and there's a chance you could get ripped off if you buy a used copy. It's best to buy straight from the manufacturer to make sure you get a working version.