Yard sales and garage sales are like modern-day treasure hunting, but where are your odds greatest to find neat items for you and your home?
Lawn Love ranked the nearly 200 largest U.S. cities to determine the Best Cities for Yard and Garage Sales. We looked for good-sized yards, plenty of yard/garage sales, and great weather conditions.
Our rankings and “before you go” tips could give you a leg up on your next sailing adventure to help you score the best and most bounty.
In this article
Results in depth
Gateway to the best sales
St. Louis has the Arch, gooey butter cake, The Hill, Imo’s Pizza — and tons of yard and garage sales. The Gateway City finished No. 1 on our ranking because it hosts the most sales, even though it landed in 72nd place in the weather category and 124th for yard size.
Hitting garage and yard sales — and church rummage sales — is a sport across the St. Louis metro area with young couples and families heading out early on Saturdays and Sundays and heading home with their hauls early in the afternoon.
St. Louis after-sailing food tip: Get an early start, snag your best finds, then stop at Crown Candy Kitchen (closed Sundays) for a BLT in the city or grab an Amighetti’s sandwich in St. Louis County on your way home.
Wander Indiana’s sales
Two Hoosier State cities — Fort Wayne and Indianapolis — landed in the No. 2 and No. 3 spots, respectively, on our ranking.
Why Fort Wayne? Many people head to Summit City to trace their family history at the country’s largest public genealogy center, but locals clearly must enjoy sailing. The city finished No. 2 overall and third in the number of yard and garage sales.
Indianapolis, meanwhile, finished third overall and No. 2 for the number of garage and yard sales. In Circle City, you’re likely to find yard- and garage-sale devotees circling for a parking spot nearest the tables and boxes of often gently used items. As they say at the start of the 500, “Drivers, start your engines!”
Indiana after-sailing food tips: In Fort Wayne, shop till you almost drop, then head to Cindy’s Diner for a Garbage Plate. In Indianapolis, after a day of sailing, we suggest getting a burger and root beer at Mug N Bun in Speedway.
Smaller cities, bigger yard (sales)
Four of our top 20 cities for yard sales and garage sales are smaller cities with bigger yard sizes. Fort Wayne, our overall No. 2, ranks 9th for yard size, but Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at No. 4 overall is No. 1 in yard size. Clarksville, Tennessee, and Macon, Georgia, at Nos. 15 and 16 overall, are Nos. 4 and 2 for yard size.
What does this mean? Well, larger lawns can host bigger yard sales, and as a sailor you have more opportunities to find some gems.
Yard size doesn’t matter when you string hundreds of yards together, though. The world’s longest yard sale spans over 690 miles from Michigan to Alabama. Grab some friends — you might as well turn it into a road trip.
Weather or not
You’d assume that cities in sunny states like California and Florida would be high in our ranking of yard sales and garage sales, but not one made the top 10. Miami almost made it, though, at No. 11.
What held sunny-state cities back in our rankings? Their number of yard and garden sales and their size of yards.
On the flipside, cold and rainy cities didn’t fare well in our ranking, either. It’s not surprising that yard sales aren’t popular much of the year in Seattle, where it rains an average of 152 days. And who wants to go sailing in Anchorage, where 10 out of 12 months of the year the average temperatures are below 60 degrees.
We ranked 192 of the largest American cities from best to worst (1-192) based on their overall score (out of 100), averaged between the number of yard and garage sales, yard size, and weather.
- Number of Yard and Garden Sales – Weight: 3
- Average Yard Size – Weight: 2
- Average Monthly Percentage of Summer Sunshine – Weight: 1
- Average Monthly Summer Temperature – Weight: 1
Garage Sale Finder, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), LawnStarter
Final thoughts: What to know before you go
Garage sales are back after months of people staying at home, social distancing, and mask-wearing. Ringing up more millions in sales collectively across the nation before the pandemic, there likely is pent-up demand now to hit the sales early on a Saturday or Sunday.
First on our list of tips for garage sale and yard sale success? Go early. The early bird gets the worm, the vintage record player, the collectible Wizard of Oz glasses, and that chic flapper-style hat.
Make a list and check it twice — and then plug it into your GPS. It’s all about speed — getting from one yard sale to a nearby garage sale to a church rummage sale. Make the most of your weekend. You want maximum finds with minimal driving time going from place to place. (It’s the same technology we use at Lawn Love to help our pros get from job to job without spinning their wheels and using a lot of gas.)
Look for citywide and other mega garage sales: There’s strength in numbers and more great finds to be purchased — or haggled over — at citywide, statewide, and multi-state yard sales and garage sales. Bigger is better for both you, the bargain hunter, and for the person selling his or her family’s items, as the sheer number will draw more people to the concentrated sale.
Take cash: Garage sales rarely take plastic. This is one case in which you can leave home without your American Express card. What if you forgot to bring some bills? Some garage sales will let you Venmo or Zelle your payment.
Go big or stay home: Take your car, truck, or SUV that has the most room, and get rid of the junk in your trunk. Supersize the space available for all the items that catch your eye and that you can afford. And if you see something big — an armoire for her, a lawn mower for you, and/or a Corvette kiddie car for your son or daughter — you need to be able to haul it all home.
Be safe: While pandemic restrictions have eased, we’re not out of the COVID woods. You want to get the best items at yard sales and garage sales, but you don’t want to get sick. Keep your distance. Maybe opt for yard sales (which are outside) over garage sales or basement sales.
Even if you’re vaccinated, you may want to have a face mask handy. And it’s just wise to have hand sanitizer in your pocket — even before COVID, you never know how many hands have touched that teddy bear or where it’s been before you spotted it.
Main Photo Credit: Shutterstock