Yard Sale Queen has been shopping at and blogging about yard sales for more than 15 years. She has appeared on numerous radio and television programs and featured in print publications like Newsweek, Better Homes and Gardens and Arthur Frommer’s Smart Shopping. We talked to her about everything from David Cassidy to bidets, and her tips for garage sale success.
1. Who is Yard Sale Queen?
My name is Chris Heiska, and I’m known as Yard Sale Queen. I was raised in upstate
New York but have lived in a small town in Maryland for the past 20
years. My town has a ton of garage sales and yard sales every Saturday. I
started my website YardSaleQueen.com to provide free
tips on having a successful garage sale and being a smart garage sale shopper.
I figured if more people knew how to have a successful garage sale, there could
be potentially more garage sales for me to shop at.
2. How did you get started with “garage sale-ing”?
I really got into yard sale-ing and garage sale-ing when I moved to semi-rural Maryland
in the early ’90s. The area had a lot of single family homes, but the nearest
mall was an hour drive away. So in order to get my shopping fix I started
going to the many yard sales that seemed to take place every weekend. And since
I had just purchased my first home, I had a lot of space to fill!
3. What is the best thing you’ve ever found at a garage sale?
I absolutely adore the child-sized wooden roll-top desk that I got for $5. I use it
now to store all of our cell phone cables and such. I also bought a large
shipping trunk for $5 that has authentic vintage “Paris to New York” stickers on
the side. I used that as a coffee table, and the storage inside is wonderful.
I guess you could say that my favorite items are unique things that I can use to
store other things! I love storage.
A few years back, I enjoyed going to the moving sale of my childhood crush — David
Cassidy. He had a moving sale at one of his vacation homes in upstate New
York. He wasn’t physically there, but I could feel his persona and essence
4. What is the weirdest thing you’ve ever seen at a garage sale?
A bidet. I think the number of people who are out shopping at a garage sale and
are looking to buy a bidet are slim to none. It just seems like the kind of
thing you would plan for in advance and buy new at a home improvement store
— not the kind of thing you buy at the spur of the moment at a garage
Oh, and the time I saw a coffin at a yard sale. That was an odd experience. A local
funeral home did a fundraising yard sale in their parking lot, which I thought was sort of odd in the first place. No, they weren’t selling coffins…they took donations of items from the community. They
then sold the items in their parking lot and donated the profits to a local
kid’s sports team. Well, they had the doors to their storage areas open and
you could see all kinds of items in the background, like coffins.
5. When and why did you start blogging about garage sales? Has blogging
helped you connect to other garage salers in your community?
Well, I started YardSaleQueen.com a long time ago, around 1997. Back when there was like nothing on the internet about garage
sales. My website just grew and grew from there. I’ve connected with people
from all over the world. I just did an interview for a newspaper in the
Netherlands. My website includes a message board, and just recently started a Facebook page. So I’ve had the pleasure of knowing people from all over and making new friends who live locally. On a Saturday morning we might text each
other, telling each other about what sale is good and what sale can be
6. How do you think the internet has changed garage sales (for better or
Mostly better, since now it’s so much easier to find where the garage sales are, and it’s easier and cheaper to advertise your sale. In the past, you were sort of
limited on how to find garage sales. It was either buying the local newspaper
or just randomly looking for signs. And [now] you can use a GPS or Google maps to
find the exact location of the garage sale without having to use a regular ol’ paper map.
As far as it being worse, there are a lot of people who sell online, so there is
more competition on finding bargains to flip. Also sometimes sellers can
develop a false sense of what their items are worth. A lot of times sellers have
a similar item to something on eBay, so they think they can charge the same [price].
Even if that item never got a bid on eBay.
7. What tips can you share about either having a successful garage sale or scoring
the best deals?
I have a ton of tips on my website YardSaleQueen.com for having a
successful garage sale. The most important are good advertising (don’t
forget to post your sale in the garage sale section on Craigslist) and preparation. Make sure your stuff is clean and presentable and you have small bills and
change. For scoring the best deals, you have to be persistent. Not every
garage sale is going to be great and full of stuff you want and need. My
preference is going early to garage sales (without being a dreaded early bird)
to see the best selection of stuff. And if you see something you want, get it
and pay for it before the next customer grabs it.