As 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 ahead
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 Bring
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!
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!).
5. 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?