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Gorillas and goodies: How to snag a garage sale bargain

GARAGE GORILLA: Samantha Kohl snuggles up with family favourite Gorr Rilla. He’s a great ape, but he only joined the Grey troop after a garage sale triumph of haggling and timing.
GARAGE GORILLA: Samantha Kohl snuggles up with family favourite Gorr Rilla. He’s a great ape, but he only joined the Grey troop after a garage sale triumph of haggling and timing. John Grey

THE best deal I ever got at a garage sale was when I bought the restaurant down the road. Well, lots of the restaurant anyway. And an ape.

I walked away that morning with timber tables, bentwood chairs, quality flatware and beautifully seasoned woks, all pretty much for a song. 

But then there was Gorr Rilla.

The toy ape with red boxing gloves had a $20 price tag that morning, and I offered $10 for him as a thank-you gift to my teenage son who'd single-handedly lugged the furniture to our house for me.

The seller wouldn't budge. "No problem," I said, and shuffled off home to find a place for the tables and try out a stirfry in the woks (they were great).

I dropped back into the garage later that day, and there was Gorr Rilla, still sitting, sad and lonely. 

"$5?" I said. The seller sighed and handed over the plush primate.

A decade later, and minus one eye thanks to an over-affectionate puppy, Gorr Rilla is still with us. What a guy. 

The October Garage Sale Trail is supported by Northern Star. Why not declutter all year round - book a garage sale or sell individual items for free in print & online with Northern Star Classifieds.

On the other side of the ledger, the best bargain I ever sold at a garage sale was a working dishwasher which I let got for $10. Bloody heavy thing it was too.

The etiquette of haggling


  •  BE prepared to walk away.
  •  KNOW how much you're willing to pay before you start.
  •  TAKE lots of spare change so you can make offers - it's a bit hard to haggle and then ask for change.
  •  TRY bundling a couple of things together and make an offer for the lot, especially if you are shopping with friends.
  •  THE later it is in the day, the more likely people will be to drop their prices.


  •  DON'T answer with a flat "no" - suggest a compromise.
  •  REMEMBER, the goal is to get rid of this stuff, right?

Topics:  bargain garage sales garage sale trail garage-sale-trail-2015

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