15+ Times When People Bought Junk at a Garage Sale, but Actually Ended Up With a Treasure Instead

4 years ago

People that always go to garage sales and thrift stores say that if you want to find something valuable in a pile of junk, you need a lot of time and a lot of luck. Sometimes, it is almost impossible to find something good, but if you try hard enough, you most likely will.

We at Bright Side even felt a tinge of jealousy when we read about the treasures that online users managed to find at garage sales. Here are some of their stories.

  • I am a confirmed garage sale fan. One of them had a big wicker basket on the front porch full of mostly beaded necklaces for 50 cents each. I was looking through the necklaces and found the ugliest chunky necklace I have ever seen. I looked at it closely and saw that it was marked 14K. Needless to say, I bought it and then I sold it later for $1,000. © Leon Joseph / Quora
  • I bought an armoire for $49. However, there was a hidden drawer in the bottom drawer. In that compartment there was a smaller jewelry box. Inside the box, there were several pieces of jewelry worth around $350 each like earrings, a bracelet, a necklace, and a 4K diamond ring that was worth about $25,000. © Raven Walker Robison / Quora
  • I was looking for a present for my wife and I came across an auction that was selling stuff from an old house. I saw a strange object that looked like a necklace. I asked an old lady how much it cost and she said, “It’s not a necklace. It is a Nantucket Sailor’s Chastity Belt.” It was $175. I was really happy. Nobody I know had anything like this. Later, I contacted a museum, sent them a picture of the belt, and sold it for $2,000. © Thomas Wilson / Quora

  • My son and I went to an estate sale a couple of years ago. I bought an old, torn travel purse for $25. There were some papers inside and a wallet. I figured it wasn’t anything important — otherwise, who would sell it if they hadn’t checked it out first?
    First, I found 5 small envelopes with $3 in each. I guess someone was saving some cash. In the wallet, there was a gift card from a pharmacy. I called the pharmacy and it turned out the card had $16 on it. I didn’t just get my money back, but I actually earned some — so I was happy. Then I threw the bag on the floor and heard a sound — something else was inside. I found a long golden chain with a pendant. I had a jeweler appraised it. It was worth $2,300. © Mary Ann Hubbert / Quora

  • I make historical and theatrical costumes, and my neighbors had a garage sale where I saw a good-looking kimono in my size. I bought it for $2 and brought it home. It was in perfect condition: no holes or snags. I looked over the fabric and I realized that it was made by hand. I used it for many years even though I got it for only $2. © Marcia Wilcox Robison / Quora

  • There was a flea market in the local high school parking lot where there was a lady with a table piled with beanie babies. On the ground under the table there was a cardboard box filled with pieces of grey plastic. It was a newer model Toshiba laptop. I got it for $10 because it didn’t function. I called the local Toshiba shop... “What’s the serial number of your laptop?” I read it off, worrying, “What if it’s stolen?” “Sir, your computer is under extended warranty. Bring it to us, and we’ll fix it.” I enjoyed that laptop for years. Then I got notice of a class-action lawsuit. Apparently, the floppy drive on these machines was not very good and people would just lose data. Because I owned the laptop, I was part of the class-action lawsuit. I was given a check for $200, and a credit for $300 of Toshiba merchandise. Not bad for a $10 investment. © Jerome Kaidor / Quora

  • I bought a small greeting card-sized art piece that was nicely framed and signed at a local estate sale. It was only $1. At home, I found out that it was a work by Lyonel Feininger, a famous German-American artist whose style of Cubism was shown in my piece. The thing was in my hall for 2 years and then I had it professionally appraised. It was worth $3,000–5,000. © Sheila Zehr / Quora

  • Not a yard sale, per se, but several months ago I had the urge to visit my local thrift store over my lunch break. As I’m wandering through the racks of musty clothes and assorted knick-knacks, I see a puffy jacket and think, “Man, I could use something warm this winter,” so I take a closer look. This jacket retailed for between $1,400-$1,600. I got it for $10 in perfect condition. © Kevin DeHart / Quora

  • Once, I was at a sale and bought 2 closed safes. The owners said there was no real value in them, so I paid $900 for them and brought them home. They were closed for 2 years until a guy I knew opened them. I found a bunch of guns in there, old savings bonds, personal papers, and $5,300 worth of cash. Yes, I did the right thing... I made sure that the family got the savings bonds and personal papers back. © Scott Wilson / Quora
  • I am terrible at remembering book titles. This means that I sometimes buy a book I’ve already read, again, because the cover has changed. I had come back to the UK to visit family and I decided to visit a local town and go book shopping in some charity shops. I hadn’t been to this town in around 15 years. I went to every charity shop in town and purchased 15 books for 20 pounds. In one of the books, I found a boarding pass from 3 years ago. It had my name on it. I’d owned this book before, and somehow it turned up in a charity shop, in a town I’d not visited for 15 years! © Jamie Dormon / Quora
  • I started an eBay consignment business. My dad loves it and recently he bought a vintage Barbie doll for $4. It turned out that the doll was released in 1959. I bought the original clothes for her and fixed her face and hair. I spent about $200 on it and then sold it at an auction for $3,938. © Chris DiGiovanna / Quora
  • My little brother is a pastor who felt a calling to go into ministry when he was in his teens. When he was around 17 or 18, my mom bought him a tie from a thrift store. It was a nice tie, but basically unremarkable in any way. He wore it to church shortly afterward. As they sat listening to the sermon, he began idly fiddling with the tie, and he turned it over to look at the tag. He noticed that the sides of the tie that folded to the back weren’t secured in place, and he flipped one back. His eyes bulged and my mom looked on in horror at the nice used tie with a hidden lining showing a full-length nude woman. My mom confiscated it as soon as church was over. It’s still a topic of amusement in my family. © Tracy Roach / Quora

  • In my 20s, I bought an old recipe book from the 1930s in a charity shop and tucked in between the pages was a total of 10 English white £5 notes (worth about £1,500 today). There was also a single piece of handwritten paper, a love note to a woman. The £50 was meant to be used to pay for the woman to get to America safely. The woman had an unusual surname. I was able to trace the family and I returned the book to her daughter. © Elliott Rodgers / Quora

  • I can drive by 99 yard sales and not be tempted to stop, but every blue moon, I can *feel* something pulling me in.

    The last time I felt this, I parked my car and as I’m heading up the driveway, a giggle of little girls went by me with their hands full of jewelry. I could feel good stuff going right on by.

    I went to the big shoe box (with “50 cents each or 3 for $1” written on it) that had once held all the goodies that giggle of girls had gotten away with and saw 2 rings left inside. One was trash but the other was treasure.

    It was filthy and looked a mess and I could see why none of those girls had picked it up. Yeah, it looked terrible but I knew this antique needed me to love it.

    I only had a quarter on me and the man said, “Take them both,” so I did. I took my treasure home and put it in a bowl of hot water mixed with white vinegar. I left it to sit overnight and the next morning took a fine paint brush and cleaned out under the stone and around the setting.

    I took it to a friend of mine in the jewelry business and he looked at it through his loupe.
    For a quarter, I had purchased a 9.5 carat emerald cut amethyst in a solid silver ring with silver barrel beads to either side of the stone. He said if I wanted to sell it, he’d give me $375 for the stone.

    Nahhhh, I’ll never sell it. It’s about 200 years old. Someday, I’ll have some spare money and will get it resized. © Barbara Jungbauer / Quora
  • I bought a very old wooden toolbox that had some rusted old tools and fittings in it. I pulled the tools out to show the seller what was in the box and she said, “Oh, just keep those. And it’s $7.” When I got home, I took out all the tools but I found something else in there. There were about a dozen of pieces of jewelry (made of gold with diamonds) and a valuable old coin. © David Powell / Quora

  • I once bought a used book. Inside it had an old photo of 2 people on, presumably, their wedding day. I thought it was cool and set it aside — forgetting about it for weeks. My mom came over and saw the photo and asked where I got this wedding photo of my great grandparents. I was speechless. © Amanda Oliver / Quora

  • Once I bought used ski boots for my son. $35 was a lot for a single mom — but I got them anyway. At home, my son tried to put them on, but something wouldn’t let him get his foot inside. I looked in the shoes and found 5 $100 dollar bills inside. © Susan Woodrow Logan / Quora

  • I bought a lot of soapstone carvings from a local fair. They were in poor condition for the most part and needed a lot of cleaning, so I bargained the price down from £75 to £50 for 8 different carvings. One of the items was an intricately carved pillbox, about 4 inches around, that was all gummed up with grime. The box rattled so I knew there was something inside it and after about 1/2 hour of cleaning it, I managed to get it open. Inside was a mix of buttons, needles, and cotton, and mixed in with it was a small golden colored teddy bear, about 1.5 inches long with red claws and green eyes. I gave this a good clean and it looked really high quality, so I took it to a local jeweler to be appraised and it turned out that the bear weighed in at nearly 2 oz of 22k gold and the red and green stones were rubies and emeralds. The jeweler offered me £2,500 for it which I used to treat my family to a great vacation. © Jeremy Bromley / Quora
  • In 1998 I bought an antique wardrobe from a thrift store, got it home, and started cleaning it out. As I pulled out the bottom drawer it got stuck. Realizing I had to turn the little wooden peg to get it out I fiddled around with it until the drawer came free. To my utter surprise, I found envelopes taped and stapled to the back of the drawers. Inside I found thousands of dollars in cash. With no way of finding the original owner, I contacted the police to hand in the lost property, they kept the cash for 90 days and then I was returned to me. Close to $20,000 that furnished the rest of the house and a wild holiday. © J. Gorlick / Quora

Have you ever found anything lovely or valuable in a pile of junk? Share your stories with us!

Preview photo credit Thomas Wilson / Quora


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If you find a treasure at a charity shop, please donate a portion of your proceeds. Those stores don't have enough staff to research items.


I would say that 99% of thoee 'finds' are completely fictious. If you're going to tell a story, at least make the monetary amounts vaguely believable.


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