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 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.
I have never been to a yard sale that accepts credit cards and people are usually hesitant to take a check. Make sure you have lots of change and one dollar bills.
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 we 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, so 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.
Photo credit: jon_a_ross