How to Shop at a Yard Sale: 5 Tips

12401180_1As we approach the first wave of the spring yard sales, I wanted to offer some advice to all my fellow thrifty shoppers. The idea of shopping at yard sales can be a bit overwhelming at first because it is approached much differently than the other forms of thrifty shopping (such as thrift stores, consignment shops, and online bargain shopping). But never fear! Follow these five tips, and you will be thrifting like a pro in no time.

PS: For the purpose of this post, I am lumping together some variations of yard sales including garage sales and estate sales.


1. Plan aheadPlan Design

Sometime the week before, you need to make a plan. Look in the newspapers for ads of upcoming yard sales. Nowadays, you can do some scouting on Craigslist as well. If all else fails, scope out local yard sale signs. After you figure out who is having yard sales, plan your route based on location and their priority to you.

2. What to Bring6210385-red-woman-wallet-and-money

Be sure to bring small bills and change to make shopping easier. You can’t exactly pay with a credit card, so cash is essential. Small bills also give off the impression that you don’t have a ton of cash and therefore need a lower price. Keep money in your pocket. Also, wear comfortable shoes appropriate for walking on grass.

3. What Not to Wear


Yard sale shopping is NOT the occasion to dress up. Besides the practical reasons (you will be walking on their lawn), you also don’t want to look like you are used to paying a lot for what you buy because price is negotiable. So don’t show that you have plenty of money in your wallet. Don’t bring a big purse either. Also, don’t come with your car obviously loaded down from previous sales. You want the sellers to envision you as a casual shopper, not a pro. If you can get them to pity you, your negotiations will go more favorably.

4. Get there early!Time-management-620x480

It is really important to get an early start to your yard sale shopping. First, this allows you to go to more yard sales before they all shut down. Second, it’s best to get the first pickings! On the whole, many of the good items will sell first. Remember: the early bird gets the worm (let that be you!).

haggle-25. The Rules of Negotiation:

As mentioned before, at a yard sale all prices are negotiable! Shopping at a yard sale is the perfect time to let your haggling skills shine. You will get better at negotiating price with practice, but here are a few tips to get you started.
  1. First, don’t act like you know the value of an item. If you see a designer shirt while shopping, pretend like it’s just another shirt.
  2. Especially if you are buying more than one thing, start your offer a little below the set price. Often you will get great deals: the tag price is not final!
  3. The later in the day, the more willing they are to part with items for less money. So if it is getting late, start your offer at an even lower price.
  4. In the same way, if you see something you like but don’t like the price, come back at the end of the day to see if it is still there and if the price has come down.
  5. For sales put on by more than one person, pay attention to the mannerisms of the different sellers. Sometimes grandma will give you a better deal than dad, or dad may not know the true value of that blender, etc.

Hope these tips were helpful! What are your tips for successful yard sale shopping? 


10 thoughts on “How to Shop at a Yard Sale: 5 Tips

  1. Great yard sale shopping tips. I try and dress down, and not too much make-up or jewelry. I am also very fortunate my husband goes with me, becuase he really enjoys the thrill of negotiating ( I loathe the negotiating process). We try to pretend we are not really together, I scope out my treasures and he goes in for the kill : )

    • Nice! Usually my mom is my partner in crime. Occassionally, we bring my little sister (She’s 8). I must say we have been known to find some cool vintage toys and use my sister to negotiate the prize. The seller takes one look at her and hands her the toy for a nice, low price–sometimes even for free.

      • I got my yard sale, thrift store habit from my Mom. With 11 kids it was a necessity. She likes to borrow my hubby as her negotiator too. She once tried to buy a tent for $15, but got rejected. My hubby walked away with the very same tent for $7. He has a gift : )

  2. Awesome tips! I always get nervous when negotiating…have you ever tried “bundling” items at a yard sale? Also, I’ve definitely used the “I only have 5 dollars” deal in Chinatown when negotiating for knock off things…it usually works!

    I know my mom used to get a lot of my baby and little kids clothes at yard sales…so if you’ve got little ones, yard sales are the way to go!

    • Yes, I definitely bundle at yard sales! And my mom has bought lots of children’s clothes in the past. Normally sellers note that they have a certain age kids clothes in their ads, making it convenient for shoppers. Much luck to you this yard sale season! 🙂

  3. Pingback: Yard Sale Fashion Finds | Sputnik Clothing & Accessories

  4. Pingback: Rainy Day Yard Sale: Modern Miss Thrift Goes Mod | Modern Miss Thrift

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s