"I buy whatever catches my eye," she said.

But three years ago, Heiska was on a mission.

Her brother and his fiancee were planning a large wedding. They were smarting after paying $500 for their wedding cake. Heiska's future sister-in-law had asked her to find a cake topper at a garage sale.

The next weekend, Heiska found a brand-new Mickey and Minnie Mouse cake topper for 50 cents."It worked perfectly because they were going to Disney World for their honeymoon," she said.

From March to November, she goes out each Saturday to as many garage sales as she can. She reads newspapers and checks online for church sales.

"They're hit or miss. It all depends on what people donate. With church sales, they're pretty well priced," Heiska said. "It's usually going for a cause. The money you spend is being put to good use.

"Kincaid said she's found that because people donate items, the merchandise is not as high quality. She cautioned that it's usually buyer beware with electronics at those sales because there's no place to plug them in and test them.

No matter where garage salers shop, it's the prospect of finding that jewel that drives them.

"It's always finding things you're looking for that you were just about to buy new that you find at a garage sale for cheap," Heiska said.

Tips For Hosting Sales

  • Garage sales will only be as good as your signs. They are important because people are trying to hit as many as they can.
  • Remove the signs when the sale is over.
  • Big items in the driveway are going to draw people in.
  • Have a box of toys around so children can play while parents shop.
  • Have everything priced.
  • Clean merchandise.
  • Have electronics in the back of the sale and have them up and running so buyers know they work.
  • Never ever put masking tape on wood furniture. When masking tape comes off the wood, the glue won't.
  • Have clothes arranged by gender and size.
  • Wear your money on you.
  • Set sale up like a showroom.

Shopping Tips

  • Put together your wants-and-needs list.
  • Plot out your course by geographic locations.
  • Keep an extension cord in the car to test electronics, appliances, etc.
  • Carry a magnifying glass.
  • Carry a tape measure.
  • Wear your money on you instead of bringing a purse.
  • Go with smaller bills and change to make it easy.
  • Have a list of measurements of items needed or spaces in home.
  • If you don't have a tape measure, keep in mind a $1 bill is six inches long.
  • When you agree to buy an item and you have to leave and come back, take a drawer or cushion from the item with you and leave a deposit so someone cannot buy the item from under you.