Yard Sale 101: Finding the Best Stuff and the Best Deals
I love yard sales! They combine my two favorite things: shopping and saving money! They’re also a really great way to find high-end merchandise for pennies on the dollar.
“But I’ve never been to a yard sale! How does it work!?”
To put it very bluntly, yard sales are usually what happens when people get sick of looking at something that they’ll never use and decide that, instead of throwing it away, they’ll try to make some money off of it.
Most of the time, you’ll see yard sales when someone is getting ready to move, needs to clean out some space, needs to downsize, or are just trying to make some extra money for something (I like to do this for paying off credit cards). I’ve known people that have yard sales to fund Disney vacations, help raise money for charities, empty out the garage for a new car, and even because of bankruptcy.
The bottom line with yard sales is people need to get rid of stuff, and they’re willing to sell it for a deeply discounted price to whoever got there first.
“So how do I survive a yard sale?!”
Here are the best things to do to get the most out of your yard sales experience
Scope out high-end neighborhoods
Yes, I mean it. “Don’t judge a book by its cover” doesn’t apply to yard sales. Chances are, the nicer the house and the nicer the neighborhood, the higher-quality the items will be. You wouldn’t go to a torn up row of houses in the middle of the ghetto and expect to find exquisite, brand name, high-end products. You will want to go to expensive neighborhoods to find the best deals on good quality products. That’s just the reality of it: the nicer the house, the nicer the stuff will be as well (there are exceptions to every rule, but this one is usually right).
Look for community yard sales
These are my favorite! A community yard sale or a neighborhood yard sale means that there are houses in a development, on a street, or in the same general area that are all having yard sales at the same time. This means that there are a lot of houses for you to choose from. More importantly, it means less time searching for what you’re looking for.
Check on Craigslist for the yard sales near you
Craigslist has a place for you can list your garage sale and explain what you have to sell. This is a really great way to find out what is going to be at a yard sale before you even have to get there.
It’s also a great way to plan out your yard-sale-ing-day. If you know that there are a few different yard sales that you want to go to that are close to each other you can go there and plan what you need to get.
I’ve even printed out maps before and mapped out my trips to maximize time! Slightly neurotic? Maybe. But I hit more than 20 different yard sales in one day thanks to my little map!
Get there right when they open
The earlier you’re able to get to a yard sale, the better the deals will be once you’re there. If you are the first person there once the sales start, you will have the pick of the lot. You won’t have to go scouring for the best deals because they’re all right there at the top.
Make sure that you know the rules of the yard sale, though! If a seller says “no early birds” that means don’t get there before it opens. If the start time is at 8 it means 8, not 7:30. And they mean it. Don’t be that creeper standing around someone’s house before they’re ready.
Bring cash and your ugliest wallet
Leave the Coach wallet at home and bring your nastiest looking, least expensive wallet with you. Here’s why: you are going to want to get a really great price for the things you buy. It’s really hard for a seller to be sympathetic to a buyer who is saying “come on I only have $10 can’t you cut that extra $2 off?” When the buyer has a $400 wallet. No credit cards or checks will be accepted at yard sales so the cash is the way to go. And on that note…
Bring your haggle game
You are going to need to at least try to haggle at a yard sale. If you have never haggled before, a yard sale is a great place to try for the first time. Don’t be afraid to ask for a discount on the price. I ask for a “buy some get some free” deal when i buy clothes from a yard sale. Chances are they’ll give it to you. A lot of times, they’re just happy to get rid of all of their stuff.
It’s okay to ask, just like it’s okay for them to say “no.” Don’t be afraid, don’t be upset, it is what it is. You asked for something and they said “no.” It’s not a big deal. Plus, you’re still getting a great deal.
The most important thing for yard sales is… planning
Just like you will need to plan where you’re going, you’ll need to plan out your yard sale budget. You will absolutely need to have a plan for every penny. I always like to leave wiggle room (because you don’t know what you’re going to find), but for the most part, make sure that you have a plan. Why are you there? What do you need? What do you want? What is your budget? You will need to have answers to these questions before you even leave to go to a yard sale.
Yard sales force you to use cash and to plan with it. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. You will need to know what you’re looking for and what you are willing to spend on it. If you are going to be looking for high dollar items, you should know what brands to look for, what a good price point to stay under will be, and how much the items go for retail.
Yard sales are an absolutely fantastic way to get really great deals on really great items. Everything from clothes, to books, to bikes, to exercise equipment, to home decor… you can get it all at a yard sale. You might need to do some shopping around and go on different days and on different weekends, but if you look hard enough you can find almost everything that you would need at a yard sale. Happy shopping!
What is your best find from a yard sale?
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