As I have been garage saling for almost 20 years, the conversation will often turn to saling in casual conversation. Generally, people lament that they are not able to find anything good. My only response can be, "Maybe you are doing it wrong."
All of the following items have been found at garage sales or thrift stores within the last month.
See things whole, see the individual components
Buy a crap bike for a good saddle.
This is the most difficult skill to build. For me, it is still very challenging to look at a garage sale of 1000's of items and be able to pick out the exceptional. It is very difficult and, admittedly, very lucky, to be able to see a slim cardboard box and realize it is something special. Beyond the issue of visual noise, there is the question of expectation. An exquisite 1990 Sam Francis exhibition catalog from a Ginza gallery show? You would never find it if you were looking for it.
Is it a tiny Le Creuset or a giant Duval? Both.
I would have bought this car club plaque no matter the city of origin. But, I do give great preference to items identified as originating from my beloved Los Angeles.
This came from a thrift store. Not a non-profit thrift store, but a privately held junk shop where the proprietor buys things for a $1 and sells them for $2. Though there can exceptions, I think non-profit thrift stores are bullshit. They are over-shopped, stuff is overpriced and the savvy workers pick the best stuff before it hits the floor. Comparatively, if you build a relationship with junk store owners, they will learn your preferences and hold stuff for you. Knowing your taste and that you are reliable, they will buy stuff they would not normally purchase since they are buying it as your proxy.
Not brand, but manufacture and finish. It applies across everything unilaterally.
Don't be a slave to quality
Don't become such a snob that you don't buy tourist crap from Mexico. Common, cheap, but look at the eyes.
Buy what can be, not what is
This little fella had no eyes and looked sorta crappy. My friend Mai picked perfect button eyes from her collection and sewed them on for me. As result, Buster is disarmingly charming. Thanks, Mai!