Top Ten Things I Look for at Yard Sales

The top ten things I look for at yard sales…a fascinating topic for all of us sellers and wannabes! Other bloggers may like vintage thermoses, picnic baskets, and white ironstone, but they’re not on my list.


Since I’m buying for online selling on Etsy/Ebay, I look for smaller items that are easily shipped. While in the booth business, I searched for furniture that I could refinish or paint. Shipping is so costly these days, I tend to stick with lighter items.


Garage Sale Top Ten~

What I Look for at Garage Sales~


  1. Ceramic Christmas trees are always good sellers for me. I buy them even if they are missing the little bulbs as I have a stash from where?? Yard sales! You can also find them on Ebay. This and #8 are about the limit of size and weight I will ship.


Top ten things I look for at yard sales
Ceramic Christmas Tree
























2. Rotary dial Princess telephones…especially in unusual colors like pink or aqua. I’ve just had the boring colors of yellow or beige, but they sell well (if they are working).



3. Recipe boxes! Wooden or metal, & it helps if they’re cute.



4. Mail Sorters or Bill Organizers! Even in this day of paying bills online, people still apparently use these:



5. Vintage Purses! I love them and collect evening bags, so I can’t resist buying them if they are affordable. See two favorites below…a Lou Taylor box purse on the left, dating from the ’80’s. What a rarity to find a purse in such pristine condition! The buyer loved it and it went all the way to Australia! The other, a black and white Spectator purse, dating from the ’60’s.



6. Vintage Safety Razors! (especially if adjustable.) Luckily, I do find razors at yard sales sometimes. They are increasingly hard to find.



7. Men’s Pipes and Pipe Paraphernalia! Hard to find at yard sales, but sometimes I get lucky! Grab them if you do! Both of these below were from yard sales. They are always high at estate sales.



8. Vintage Luggage! These are about the limit of weight and size for me to ship. The one on the left was in terrible shape when found. It required a lot of repair to get in acceptable shape. In fact, this style is usually in bad shape if you can find it at all.



9. Dolls, doll clothes, old doll trunks. Composition baby dolls, Vogue Ginny, vintage Barbie. Hard to find at yard sales, and too high at estate sales because I only go the first day. Once someone gave me a composition baby doll at a yard sale, and I promptly sold her for $20! That doesn’t happen every day!


TIP: Avoid buying dolls with white mold on the eyes, due to prolonged exposure to moisture. Once it starts, it is extremely hard to remove and often comes back. Usually the doll’s eyes have to be replaced.


(I apologize for the quality of some of these photos, which I took before I learned how to photo edit.)


The doll trunk was full of Vogue Ginny outfits, shoes and hats. Unfortunately a find that like that doesn’t come along every day! Though the Midge doll was vintage 60’s, she was in less than stellar condition!


10. Anything quirky or unusual has a market. I once sold 6 vintage dried up Howard Johnson ballpoint pens. Priced cheap because they didn’t write, I figured nobody would want them! Ha! Wrong! Wish I had a picture.

#1 Who would want these specialized coffee filters? Someone did!

#2 Bed springs

#3 Hair ribbon~5 colors…this surprised me.

#4 Do you know what this is? Just checking to see if you read this far….

#5 Do you know what this one is? Leave me a comment if you know!



So these are my top ten things I look for at yard sales. But what sells for me may not sell for you. Everything takes time! Hope you enjoyed the tour!



Top Ten Things I Look for in Yard Sales

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As an experienced online seller for 19 years, I've just begun to reveal some of my selling secrets. One way of doing this is showing what I buy and sell for. Because most items are vintage & need TLC, I show these DIY's too. I love picking, junking, thrifting, and shabby chic style.

47 comments on Top Ten Things I Look for at Yard Sales

  1. I would guess the mystery item is some sort of gadget for clipping dog’s claws or for manicure pedicure. The other item with about 10 of the same appears to be thimbles.

  2. Florence, the first picture is those thumb or finger things (I don’t know what the official name is) that help you sort through paper without the paper sticking together. I don’t know what the other picture is though!

  3. Florence yes I read till the bottom and as far as I can tell #4 is those things we put on our fingers to keep them moist. What were they used for? I love those vintagy handbags.

    1. Yes, things to help you get a grip on papers as you’re sorting through them. I couldn’t believe how quickly they sold! Figured they wouldn’t sell at all, so just goes to show you people will buy anything…LOL.

  4. I wish I still had my Ginny Dollar and Barbie. What about ash trays, are they collectible? I knew about the things for your finger when filing but not the flag holder. Fun post

    1. Yes, I wish I had my Barbie too. I sold her a few years ago on Ebay…probably could get more now. Oh well. Ash trays…I need to do a post on those some time. I sold one recently that was vintage and a spin top. The others that do well are mid century mod designs. I have another one in my Etsy shop that is dead in the water, so design matters.

  5. I would certainly have bought the little finger things! I use them when slicing okra pods so I don’t cut my thumb with the knife!!

    1. What a repurposed use Carlene! Would never have thought of that! Wonder if they would work shelling peas? Used to turn my fingers black & sooner or later the quick on fingers was punctured from shelling.

  6. Love to see what people have on their list to look for at yard sales. You gave me a few new ideas. #4 is rubber fingertips for quickly going through stacks of papers. I was an accountant for 40 years and I had a couple in my desk the day I retired. lol

    1. Funny, how people who were/are office workers all know what those are! To me, as a nurse, we had something similar looking but they were called “finger cots.” So in my mind, that’s what they are, but it’s not what they were used for. Just think, Sharon, you could have brought those home from your desk drawer & sold them!

  7. Such a fun post, Florence–you surprised me with some of your categories. Ceramic Christmas trees and safety razors, for instance. I’ve never tried to sell either, but perhaps now I’ll give them a try 🙂 Thanks for linking up your post with us at Vintage Charm. Sharon’s featuring your post tomorrow at the party–

  8. Pingback: Vintage Charm #39
  9. Florence, what a great list. Now I have a few new things to watch for! I have a vintage German dollhouse that I want to pass on to my niece. I have the original dolls but their clothing is disintegrating. I’m always hoping to find similar dolls in better condition – or just clothes for the ones I have. And hunting for them is half the fun.

  10. I never thought about safety razors before. The find that my husband loves the most (and he’s REALLY not into vintage stuff) was when I found one of the ceramic Christmas trees at a thrift store. I thought he’d think it was ugly, but his mom used to have one, so now he insists that I put it out each year.

  11. Florence, this is a great list of things to look for at yard sales! Those recipe boxes are so cute, and who wouldn’t want a rotary phone?! So cool! My husband has some of those old razors from his great uncle, pretty neat! I remember my teachers using those finger grippy things when grading papers. All great finds! Happy hunting to you!

    1. Thanks Keri! Interesting to see what people like from this list. Lots of people are surprised about the razors. Glad to hear you like the phone! You as a young person too! Saw a cute video on FB recently about little kids trying to figure out what a rotary phone was! It was hilarious.

  12. The flag thing is mounted on a house, perhaps on a porch rail or porch post, so you can stick smaller flags in the holders and the result is a fan of flags which looks very pretty if you have these mounted at different areas on the house. Along with some larger flags or bunting, they would make a gorgeous display on a Victorian front porch. I also knew the paper collators were to count money and they grab the paper…..old stuff is so much fun to look through. I still have some flat wooden sock shapers — you’d wash the child’s socks and put them on the wooden forms to dry in that shape. Also a noise maker crank thingie my Mom said they used on Halloween to make noise with. They use the same type of item on the Jewish holiday of Purim. I also have a wooden rectangle with different width grooves in it. It held rows of pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters and half dollars. This belonged to my grandfather who was a butcher and had a market stand. This is how his change was stored at the market. All sorts of old fun items I can think of that I have….This was a fun blog post!

    1. Hi Virginia! Long-time-no-see! Glad you dropped in! I agree with you…old stuff is so much fun to look through! And I usually come home with some of it! I didn’t know what the flag holder was when I first saw it. Someone told me it was for mounting on a bicycle, but I think your idea is more accurate. I would like to see all those things you have from your grandfather! Fascinating objects from the past & that gives me an idea for a blog post!

  13. No 4 are “finger cots”, secretaries used them to get traction on their fingers to sort paperwork, etc. Not sure what No 5 is, thanks, Judy Montague

    1. Thanks for your comment Judy! #5 is a flag holder to hold 5 flags on a house. Someone suggested it was for a bicycle, so I guess that’s a possibility too. Lots of people knew about the finger cots too. In fact, we used to have these in the nursing field, but they were used for something else.

  14. The only thing I can think of about moving too often is getting rid of wonderful old things which inspire memories and conversations. Luckily still have old photos from Mom’s family and my Dad’s family also. Then photos of parents with families before my brother and I came along, etc. Have lugged those photos all over this country, not letting go of those memories. Have lots of photos of my kids from birth, etc. My parents were avid picture takers.
    Sadly were lots more photos had to let go while taking care of Mom’s place in El Cajon, CA after she had some bad health problems, she never got to go home again. I was there from MT so had no way to transport all those photos from way back, doggoned it. At the time didn’t know Mom wouldn’t be going back to her place. Had I known would have put photos in storage somewhere in El Cajon. Made it harder when I didn’t live in CA anymore. Had to leave paintings my Dad had done, don’t have one of them which makes me very sad. Our youngest ended up clearing out Mom’s place and had to dispose of things as she could.
    You sure do find some interesting things, recognized rubber finger cots right away since am 76. You must come across some crazy things and some to remind you of memories in your own life. Was glad I clicked on your post and got to see some of what you do. Hope you 2 are enjoying your weekend

    1. Jane, you are so right about keeping things vs getting rid of them when you move or any other time. I always tell myself “you can’t keep everything.” But those pictures of your dad’s sound really special, and I can see why you would have wanted to hang onto something of his. Now photos are really precious holding many memories….I can see why you would want those too. I’ve got a lot of the really old ones, some my mother wrote on so I would know who the person was, but I always think about who’s going to get all my stuff b/c we don’t have kids. Probably some estate sale somewhere down the line. Seems that everyone recognized the finger cots! We used to have something similar when I worked as a nurse, but it was used for different purposes. That’s what we called them too….my first exposure to “finger cots”! I enjoyed reading your comment & thanks for taking the time to leave one!

  15. Such an interesting post Florence. I have bought a few things at our local auction here in the UK and resold them – mainly paper based items as they are easy to post. I always keep an eye out for anything to do with golf as I have always done well with those items! Didn’t know what #5 was until I read the other comments 🙂

    1. Thank you Sarah! I didn’t know golf things sold well! That’s a nice tip. Of course, I know NOTHING about golf! Several people were confused about #5, including me!

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