Spring and summer are great times to find bargains at garage/yard sales. Check out these helpful hints on ways to make the most out of your bargain shopping experience.
Before you go…
-Have a game plan. Research sales in your area ahead of time by checking newspaper listings and grocery store bulletin boards. Community or church-run yard sales often have many vendors and lots of variety. If you live near a college, keep an eye out for an end-of-the-year sale where students leave behind what they can’t take home.
-Bring a map. Be sure you know where to find a public restroom and stop at one before you go to the garage sale–don’t count on people letting you use the one inside their house.
-Make a list! If you know what you want, you can look for those items first. There will always be time to browse after, but once an item is gone, it’s gone. Feel free to ask the seller if they have something you can’t find.
-Transportation — Bring a vehicle large enough to transport whatever you are going to buy, and have boxes and bags to load it all up. Also, don’t show up in an expensive looking car and expect any good discounts. Yard sales are great days for old cars.
-Munchies — Bring snacks to keep energy high, especially if the kids are coming. Tuck some apples and granola bars into your bag, and be sure to bring a water bottle too!
-The Early Bird — Be prepared to show up on the early side to get the best goods. If you are new to yard sale shopping, you may be surprised just how early that can be. At larger community-wide events it is appropriate to get there even an hour in advance to line up. However, be respectful, especially at people’s homes. If someone has put up a sign saying “no early birds” or is being firm about their start time, don’t start poking through their stuff.
-Bring small bills. Vendors may not have change, and it is hard to bargain over one-dollar items if you are paying with a twenty dollar bill.
At the sale . . .
-Don’t be shy–haggle! Prices written on labels are often not set in stone. You don’t have to buy anything immediately, and a vendor will be more likely to lower their price as the day goes on. You can always leave your name and number with them so they can call you if a particular item doesn’t sell and you want to go back for it.
-Fill a bag for $5? If you see this deal, try rolling clothes up instead of stuffing them–you’ll fit more.
-Double check everything! You cannot return items, even if they are broken or missing pieces, so see if they work before you leave. Ask for an extension cord to test appliances, and look inside anything that comes in a box, to make sure it is what you think it is. One easy trick to check if dishware is broken or cracked is to run a cotton ball over the surface and see if it snags anywhere. Don’t forget a tape measure! Know how much space you have in your home for furniture, and take exact measurements of whatever you plan to buy.
-Imagine different ways of using things you find–old clothes or blankets can be used to make curtains or upholster furniture, and unique looking cups or trinkets can make lovely gifts. That said, don’t buy things that you really don’t need or that really are junk, just because it’s a “good deal.”
What’s the best thing you ever bought at a yard sale? Tell us at our forum.