It’s summertime and that means yard sales are happening all over the country! I love shopping at yard sales. It is a great way to find bargains, meet people, and get outside for some fresh air.
I grew up with a mom who loved to hit the yard sales on the weekend and married into a family that takes their yard sale shopping seriously.
In fact one of my first memories of my in-laws is driving around Orlando in a big white van hitting the “good neighborhoods” to find the best deals. Our finds that day, a designer purse and outdoor grill. Needless to say shopping at yard sales is in my blood!
Here are a few tips I’ve learned over the years on how to make the most of your yard sale shopping experience.
Make a Plan
You will waste time and money driving aimlessly around your town looking for signs. Invest in a street map of your area, if you don’t already have a GPS.
The night before check the local paper, Facebook Marketplace, or Craig’s list for yard sale times and locations. Map out your route starting with the yard sale with the earliest start time. Look for community yard sales, they make for one stop shopping.
On shopping morning get up early and eat a good breakfast. Pack a few snacks. It doesn’t do you any good to save money at a yard sale and then blow it at the McDonald’s drive thru because you are starving.
Skip the Sales That Aren’t Selling What You Are Looking to Buy
Don’t waste time going to yard sales that don’t have what you are looking for. For example, if you are looking for a coffee table and camping equipment skip the sales that advertise baby clothes and kid’s toys.
If you want a deal, carry cash and make sure you have one and five dollar bills. The best way to negotiate is to have the exact amount of money on you. The seller is never happy to accept an offer $5 on an item that is priced at $8 and then have you pay with a ten dollar bill.
Make a List
This is especially helpful if you are looking for clothes. If you make a list of sizes and types that you need, it will make your shopping easier. It will also keep you from spending money on things that you don’t need.
When you walk up to a sale, say hello and be friendly. Creating a rapport with the seller can help you get a better deal.
If you don’t see what you are looking for ask the seller if they have it. Once I was at a sale with tons of little girl clothes. I really wanted clothes in size 5 but I didn’t see any.
I asked the seller if she had anything in size 5 and she proceeded to drag out a huge box from under the table. It was filled with size 5 clothes that she didn’t have space for on the table.
I will negotiate on almost everything. Every once in a while the price is so low that I pay without bargaining but most of the time I will ask if they will take less. If you are shy about negotiating a good way to start is to buy several things and ask if they will take a lower price. For example, if you have an armful of stuff that totals $6.25, ask if they will take $5 for everything.
I find people are more willing to negotiate if you are buying several things or big ticket items. It is hard to bargain on something that only costs a quarter to begin with.
Keep Your Money in Your Pocket
Don’t pull out a wad of cash. If you use our negotiating tip, and you approach them with a $5 bill in your hand, they are more likely to sell you everything for $5. If you come with a twenty, they have to make change for you, why can’t you pay the full amount of $6.25?
Don’t Get Cheap Fever
This happens to me a lot. I get accustom to paying a quarter or a dollar for things that I sometimes pass up items that are a higher price but truly a really great deal.
I still remember a time 7 or 8 years ago when I passed up a set of brand new stainless steel mixing bowls because they were $5! If something is worth $100 new, then $15 might be a great price to pay for it at a yard sale, even if it is slightly used.
Pick it Up
If you see something you like pick it up. There have been many times I have looked at something and then walked away from it for a minute or two and had someone else buy it during that time.
Have fun and be willing to come home empty handed. Sometimes the deals just aren’t happening. Don’t spend money just because you spent the time driving around. New sales happen every week.
Oh, boy, I can’t wait for garage sale season! My tip is to never be afraid to ask the price of something. I saw the sweetest little toy tea set last summer and almost walked by it. It looked ‘pricey.’ Then I thought, what the heck–I can always say ‘no.’
The woman wanted $2 for it! This was a complete china tea set in its own little carrying case. I snatched it right up. Then I went home and noticed the price tag was still attached to it. Can you believe, I got a $74 tea set for 2 bucks??? Yep, never be afraid to ask!
Those are some really good tips. I can hardly wait for yard sale season to start!
Stephanie Bowman says
I LOVE YARD SALES!!!!!! thanks for the tips 🙂
Those are really good hints. I like to shop at yard sales, but am very shy, so I really needed the advice about creating rapport.
Thanks for the nice comment on the bag I made. I’m starting to make some spring clothes, too. LOL, you could use fabric left from sewing for your kids to make tote bags!
Christie Jarvis says
I am going out tomorrow to catch a few. Thanks for the great reminders. I am going to share your post on my FB page. Have a great weekend!!
Somebody's Mimi says
I live in “Garage Sale Heaven” so we garage sale year round. It seems to be a regular routine for my husband and me. I follow most of your tips and have found some seriously great buys… my house is full of them! The day our first granddaughter was born we were out going to garage sales with her Aunt-to-be! Because my husband approaches with a smile on his face and usually a funny story the women love my husband and HE gets the BEST deals!
Dandi Bond says
Thanks for the tips. You know, I read these b/c I was having a garage sale this weekend and when you said the thing about the credit cards it clicked in my mind. We just got an account with squared up and we can take credit cards (with a percentage taken out). I put up a sign that I accepted cash and credit cards and people couldn’t believe it. It was so funny, but I had some more expensive items that I wanted to sell. I did say that they had to pay the 2% fee though and I had a lady pay for something with her card! It was great! I think more and more people are going to start doing this as the technology is now becoming readily available to everyone.
Thanks for the garage sale tips. We went out last weekend. I found a wonderful website http://www.yardsaletreasuremap.com that takes the craigs list yard sale ads and maps them for you. You can view the craigs list listings by location and add or delete stops, as well as, rearrange the order. When you are done, you can print out directions for your route.