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Do you love shopping for furniture, clothes, and little things for your house? Do you like to buy adorable name brand clothes, unique toys, and useful gear for your kiddos? Are you in need of some kitchen appliances, plates and silverware, or a nice serving dish? Do you also hate the ridiculous price tags attached to these items? Then it looks like you need to learn how to shop at yard sales!
If you feel a little overwhelmed about starting a yard sale treasure hunt, here are 10 yard sale buying tips so you can grab great deals on items you need!
10 Yard Sale Buying Tips
- Get there early OR go late—The best items will go fast, first thing in the morning. Don’t walk up into driveways while the sellers are setting things up, but try to get there right when the sale starts. However, the best deals may be found later in the day when sellers really want the items to be gone.
- Bring a bag or basket with you—Big sales might have you parking a good way down the street, so if you find a lot of smaller items, you’ll need a way to cart them back to the car.
- Plan what you want to buy—Have an idea of the items that you want or need so that you don’t wander around aimlessly. When buying clothes for children, it might be a good idea to bring the child or one of his outfits along with you to make sure they will fit. Second, know a few name brands before you go. For example, I’m not going to buy second hand Walmart (Faded Glory) clothes even for 50 cents, but I would buy an Ann Taylor sweater for $2. Last, remember that some items should NEVER be purchased second hand, such as breast pumps and car seats. Yard Sale Queen has a great list of items not to buy. Remember that safety regulations are always changing and that many companies recall toys, appliances, etc. that have been proven to be unsafe. Be sure to check the safety and quality of each item before you purchase it.
- Plan what you want to spend and bring cash—A good budget is important to saving money. You may have only spent $20 on a car load of stuff from yard sales, but if that means you can’t buy groceries later that week, then you did yourself and your family a disservice. If you are searching yard sales for a couch, make sure you have decided beforehand what you are willing/able to pay for one, but try to be fair. It is unlikely that you are going to find a seller willing to let a couch in good condition go for only $10. Make sure that you have enough cash on hand to pay for the item, as most sellers are not willing to accept any other form of payment. Be sure to give yourself a little wiggle room in case you find a deal that can’t be passed up, even if it isn’t on your list.
- Plan when/where are you going to look for it—First, check local papers and the online resources listed below for advertisements. Most sellers will give a quick description of their items in their ad, giving you an idea of which sales you want to be sure to visit. In most cases, neighborhood or church sales are a better option than individual sales. They provide many items in one location, giving you a better selection and saving you time and gas money. Also look for sellers who really want to get rid of stuff, for example moving and estate sales.
- Flex on purchases—Just because something is on your list doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy it. You may not be looking for a new tablecloth, but if you find one that you love and it is $1, go for it! Or maybe you stumbled upon a tea cup that will make the perfect gift for a friend, or your next crafting project. Yard sales and their wares are unique, so don’t pass up an opportunity to buy something at an amazing price just because it isn’t on your list. This is similar to the overall principle of Southern Savers. You stock up when the prices hit rock bottom, even if you don’t need the item at the moment.
- Flex on prices—You may have planned to spend $20 on a bookshelf but find one that is absolutely amazing for $30. Your first option is to barter with the seller. They might meet you in the middle, or they might take your offer. Haggling is acceptable at a yard sale, but remember that you are far more likely to get a good deal if you are cheerful and polite. If the seller will not lower the price, your second option is to try to come back later in the day. You risk someone else buying it, but then again you might find a better one at the next sale.
- Haggle the right way—This really only applies to higher priced items. It is not considered in good taste to offer a quarter for something that is already marked at 50 cents. However, to work a deal with smaller items, buy several of them. For example, I once went to a yard sale where they had a big bin of matchbox cars for a quarter each. I offered the seller a couple dollars for the whole bin, and she took the offer (it was later in the day), so I got them for my nephew. Another example is lamps. If a seller has two or three identical lamps for $4 each, ask if they will take $10 for all three.
- Shop prepared and with a friend—Be a serious deal hunter, but don’t make shopping a drag. Just as well-planned grocery trip is much smoother than a quick run close to meal time, there are a few things you can do to make treasure hunting more enjoyable. Don’t go when you’re hungry, tired, the weather is bad, or you’re in a rush. Bring some snacks and a water bottle. Leave the kids at home if at all possible. Bring a friend or family member who loves to bargain hunt as much as you do. Do what ever you can to make yourself comfortable and calm so that you can lengthen and enjoy the experience.
- Consider an item’s potential—As you peruse items spread out over lawns, garages, and church parking lots, remember to look past the current state of an object and see its potential. Sometimes an item can be re-purposed for another function, fixed if it is broken, or beautified if it is ugly. A coat of paint can revamp a piece of furniture. A scrap of ribbon or lace can change a boring lampshade into a unique piece. An old galvanized wash tub can become a tub for serving drinks at a cookout (this is an actual deal that I got for $1). There are an infinite number of things that can be turned into unique storage containers. Keep an open mind and be creative!
Want to have your own yard sale? Check out our 12 yard sale tips to make money and clear out clutter!