How to find those hidden yard sale treasures and avoid the knockoffs

Don't Waste Your Money

Almost every weekend during the summer, yard sales flourish.

Unfortunately, a lot of the stuff people put out for sale is junk, and a waste or your time and money. But some of it can be hidden treasure.

So how do you find a yard sale gem?

Clues it may be valuable

We've all heard of yard sale surprises -- like a $5 guitar that turned out to be Jimmy Hendrix's old instrument.

While this is a very rare occurrence, there are ways to figure out which yard sale items are worth your money.

Professor Brian Hackett says true antique furniture will have original knobs -- not replacements -- and old-fashioned dovetails in the drawers.

True collectibles will be correctly marked. Reproductions are usually worthless.

"You want to be sure they have the proper mark on the bottom," Hackett said.

Antiques seller Amber Ashley says worthless knockoffs are everywhere these days.

"Do your research because there's a lot of good reproductions out there," Ashley said.

Hackett and Ashley say clues you may have stumbled upon a hidden treasure include:

       -- A signature
       -- 1930s art deco anything
       -- 1950s or 1960s housewares
       -- Tin toys
       -- Any old painting.

Another good tip is to look around to see where it was made. If it reads America or especially Europe, you might have something.  If you see the words "Made in China," then probably not.

To check an item's real value, use your smartphone to search for similar items on eBay. Or visit a local antiques appraiser.

For $8, a website called valuemystuff.com  will let you know if you may have found the real thing -- just send them a photo.            

Experts say more than half of all people holding garage sales have no idea what their items are worth.

So if you take a little time and do some research, you may be able to walk away with a steal, so you don't waste your money.

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Don't Waste Your Money is a registered trademark of the EW Scripps Co.

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As an added bonus to help in your search for hidden treasures, here's a list of local flea markets: 

-- *The City Flea (Downtown): Washington Park in OTR- once a month 10am-4pm (next one is Jul 13)

Official site: http://www.thecityflea.com/

-- Rink's Flea Market (Mt. Healthy): 9651 Hamilton Ave, Cincinnati, OH 45231- open daily

Facebook site: https://www.facebook.com/RinksFleaMarket

-- *Treasure Aisles Flea Market: 320 N. Garver Road, Monroe, OH 45050- open Sat&Sun 9am-5pm

Official site: http://www.treasure-aisles.com/

-- *Peddler's Flea Market (East End): 4343 Kellogg Ave, Cincinnati, OH 45226- open Sundays 6am-noon

Facebook site: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Peddlers-Flea-Market/104085729672925

-- Village Flea Market Inc. (Bond Hill): 2095 Seymour Ave, Cincinnati, OH 45237- open Sat&Sun 9am-5pm

no website

-- *Trader's World (Lebanon): 601 Union Rd, Lebanon, OH 45036- open Sat&Sun 9am-5pm

Official site: http://www.tradersworldmarket.com/

-- *Richwood Flea Market (Florence): 10915 Dixie Hwy, Walton, KY 41094- open Sat&Sun 9am-5pm

Official site: http://www.richwoodfleamarket.com/

-- Amelia Flea Market: 24 Mount Holly Rd, Amelia, OH 45102- open Sat&Sun 9am-5pm

No website

-- *Caesar Creek Flea Marke (Warren County)t: 7763 W State Route 73, Wilmington, OH 45177- open Sat&Sun 9am-5pm

Official site: http://www.caesarcreek.com/

-- White's Farm & Flea Market (Indiana): 3028 Holland Rd, Brookville, IN 47012- open Wednesdays until noon

Official site: http://www.whiteswebsite.com/?page=buyers&group=fleaMarket

-- Olive Road Flea Market (Dayton):2222 Olive Road, Trotwood, OH 45426 -open Fridays 11am-4pm, Sat&Sun 9am-5pm

Official site: http://www.oliveroadfleamarket.com/

-- Friendship Flea Market: 6491 E State Rd 62, Versailles, IN 47042- open twice a year for 9 days every June and September (next one is September 14-22); 9am-9pm

Official site: http://friendshipfleamarket.com/

*top-rated on Yelp, Fleaportal.com, TripAdvisor, & YellowPages

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