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How to use Google Alerts to score finds at garage sales

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While you might be using Google Alerts to keep up with your favorite rock band or to see what’s going on in your town, you can use this feature from Google to save you time when scoping out garage sales. With the following tips, you can set up Google Alerts so you can find what you need.

Get started: If you wish to have your Google Alerts delivered via email, then it’s worth noting you may receive multiple updates throughout the day, especially if you set up several alerts. Consider setting up a specific folder so you can quickly find alerts in your inbox.

Find a search query: Next, go to www.google.com/alerts. In the “Search query” field, type what you want to find. It can be general, such as “Garage sale,” or specific, such as a particular toy or collectible. You should also add your local metropolitan area so that you are not inundated with updates for garage sales nationwide. If you live in or near a large metropolitan area, such as Chicago, you might want to specify the neighborhood or suburb so that you do not receive alerts for sales an hour from your home. For example, someone who is looking for children’s clothing in Lincoln Park could write “children’s clothing + garage sale + Lincoln Park” for the search query. Keep in mind, though, that not every garage sale organizer will post a detailed list of items for sale. You might be better off using a general search term, such as "LEGO" instead of a specific LEGO brick model.

Select ‘Everything’: In Google Alerts, you can specify if you wish to receive alerts from blogs, news, videos, discussions, books, or everything. When searching for garage sales, your best option is to select the option for “Everything,” as you don’t want to miss out on a rummage sale advertised on an organization’s blog or via an article in the online edition of the local newspaper.

Find your comfort zone: Next, select the language and region you prefer, how often you wish to receive alerts, and how many results you would like. Specify which email address that will receive the Google Alerts or if you want the alerts delivered to your Google Reader, and you’re set.

Set up multiple alerts: Now that you’ve set up one alert, repeat the process with other search terms. Perhaps you want to receive alerts for garage sales in other suburbs or neighborhoods, or you have a litany of items you’re scoping out at garage sales. Try variations on a search term, too; for example, you can set up separate alerts for garage sales, rummage sales and yard sales in your area. You can also delete alerts for items you no longer wish to purchase.

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