10 Things Not to Sell at a Garage Sale & What to Do Instead

From the sentimentally important to stuff with your personal info, these are things to keep off your garage sale tables.

Published October 5, 2023


Before you start sorting though stuff to sell or pricing items for your yard sale, slow your purge and take a sec to consider your stuff in a new light. We've got a few pro tips on what not to sell at garage sales, including sentimental treasures, things that are worth a lot of money, and stuff that might cause trouble later.

Coin and Stamp Collections


Not every coin collection is worth its weight in gold, but old coins can be pretty valuable. And they are actual money, after all. Stamps are similar — some can be worth a fortune. Before you slap a price tag on Dad's old collection, add up the face value of everything and consider taking it to the bank or a coin or stamp specialist instead.

Old Photos and Photo Albums


Some very old photos can actually be worth money, but that's not the only reason you should never sell them at a garage sale. These mementos have a ton of sentimental value. While someone might pay a dollar or two for some antique pictures, they could be worth a lot more to your descendants. Same goes for postcards, letters, and other memorabilia.

Antique Books


Sure, a yard sale is basically perfect for selling your old paperbacks or that collection of kids' books your teenagers have outgrown. It's not the place to sell antique books, though. That's because some antique books have way more value than the 50-cent price tag they might carry at a garage sale. First editions and signed books can be worth the most, but any antique book in good condition is worth taking to a used bookstore instead.

Personalized Tags and Items


Another thing to skip selling at a garage sale is anything that's got your personal info in it. This can include things like luggage tags, backpacks with your address, or even cartons or boxes labeled with your name and address. It can also be old journals or basically anything that has identifying information. If you remove the label or tag, you might still be able to sell the item, however.

Old Silver Items


While it's tempting to put a bunch of old silverware on a yard sale table and hope someone will buy it, you might be selling yourself short (way, way short). Sterling silver is worth a lot — at least the melt value of the silver metal it contains (that number changes all the time, but it's not pocket change).

Before you put silver jewelry or flatware in your garage sale, make sure you know what kind it is. You can look on the back of a piece to see if it's sterling, which will be marked "sterling" or "925." If you have sterling, take it to a precious metal dealer or an antique store instead.

Family Heirlooms (Even if You Don't Want Them)


Some special items are passed down through families for generations, and you should never sell these at a garage sale. At the very least, check with other family members before you sell. These pieces might not have a ton of monetary value, but they can be worth a lot to people in your family (including those who haven't been born yet).

Quick Tip

Have too many family heirlooms to deal with? If you're like us, you inherited a lot of china and crystal from grandparents and maybe don't have a use for it. Narrow down the collection to the things that really matter and represent your family and then talk with other family members about what to do with the rest.

Computers, Electronics, and Old Phones


Old electronics can be kind of a pain to get rid of (a lot of them can't just be tossed in the trash and have to go to the recycling center instead), but they are something you should not sell at a garage sale. A lot of these items may contain personal information, and it's not always easy for you to delete that or fully erase it. Instead, take it to an electronics recycler or a used computer dealer with a good reputation.

Historically Important Things


Your great grandmother's wedding dress has value that's not just limited to your own family. The same goes for war memorabilia, old tools and documents from when your local area was officially settled, and other historically important items. Instead of selling these at a garage sale, take them to your local history museum to see if they want them.

Native American Artifacts and Antiques With Ivory


There are a few antique and vintage items you may not actually be able to buy and sell. In some cases, buying or selling an Indigenous American artifact isn't always legal — particularly if it was obtained in a way that's not legal (like from a burial site or national park). If you don't know where it came from, don't sell it at your yard sale.

It's kind of the same thing for ivory. If you think you might have an antique that's made of ivory, you should not try to sell it at a garage sale. First determine whether it's legal to sell at all, and then take some time to find a dealer who can help you.

Vinyl Records


That old record collection deserves better than a garage sale, and it's actually not the best way to get what it's worth. Some vinyl isn't worth a ton (a scratch is a scratch), but certain albums can be really valuable. If you have records from the 1970s or 1980s or from iconic bands like The Beatles, they could be worth a lot. Take them to a used record store instead.

Know What Not to Sell at a Garage Sale


Knowing what not to sell at garage sales mostly comes down to understanding what your items are worth. There are all kinds of ways something can be valuable, including sentimental value, monetary value, and historical importance. Get the most for your things and avoid some potential pitfalls by sorting out the items that don't belong on your garage sale tables.

10 Things Not to Sell at a Garage Sale & What to Do Instead