Yard Sale Shopping
Save money by being a savvy shopper at yard sales. Learn how to find what you want at a bargain price.
Check local newspapers and bulletin boards in places like neighborhood groceries to learn about sales in your area. Pay attention to the opening hour and try to show up as near to that time as possible. The early bird does get the worm. Highly sought after items, such as baby equipment and collectible dishes, do sell out quickly.
Dress for success. Comfortable shoes are a must. Many sales are held in yards and this is no time for a broken sandal strap or stubbed toe. Women should consider a fanny pack instead of a purse to reduce the danger of breaking items with a swinging purse and to keep both hands free for looking.
Come prepared. A list of items in your collection may help you avoid buying duplicate items. Size labels aren't reliable on yard sale clothing because it's impossible to know how the items were laundered. Bring a list of measurements and a tape measure if you plan to buy clothing. For example, if you're looking for jeans at yard sales, bring your waist and inseam measurements, as well as a tape measure, so you can make sure the jeans you buy will fit. Be sure to check for rips, stains, and working fasteners. Remember that yard sales have no return policies and no dressing rooms. It's also a good idea to bring lots of small bills and change so that you don't waste time waiting for the person giving the sale to locate your change.
While it's perfectly okay to measure clothing, don't scrape anything with a knife or mark items in any way. They're not yours until you buy them.
It's your responsibility to study values and trends in collectibles so that you'll recognize a good buy when you see one. It's also important to learn what factors seriously lower values. A chip, crack, or missing piece often lowers the value significantly. A porcelain angel figurine in perfect condition may bring $5, for example, while the same angel with a chipped wing may sell for only 50 cents. A salt and pepper shaker set may be worth several dollars but the pepper shaker alone may attract few buyers. Learn to inspect items carefully. If you're planning to buy breakable items, keep plastic crates and newspaper in your trunk. You can then quickly wrap and transport fragile items without breaking them or losing time.
Learn which items can be cleaned up, and which ones can't. A price written with a marker in front of a book can never be removed. Add a few denture cleaning tablets to a sink full of water and soak dirty glasses. Most cloudy glassware will sparkle. Delicate bisque figurines are damaged by soaking but can be cleaned by rubbing the items with soft white bread.
Yard sale prices are almost always negotiable. Sellers definitely prefer pleasant people and are more likely to give a discount to someone who politely asks if the marked price is their best price rather than someone who belittles the item.
Relax and enjoy shopping. If you make a few mistakes in buying, they will probably be balanced by the bargains you bought and the fun you had.