Jamie Here! With the weather turning beautiful, I’m getting Yard Sale fever! Here are some tips I’ve learned from my years of “Yard Sailing” – leave your own favorite tips in the comments!
It’s the preferred weekend pastime of the Optimistic Cheapskate! You never know what you’ll find in a morning’s worth of Yard Sailing – heck, sometimes you’ll come home empty-handed – but your inner optimist will pull you out of bed time and time again for another coffee-fueled expedition.
I’ve been yard-sailing religiously since I was 11, heading out on my bike out early Saturday mornings with my backpack and $2 weekly allowance. I was forced to stretch that $2 to the max – and so I did – charming old folks out of their vintage clothes & jewelry (I have a vintage problem…) and talking tight-fisted children out of Barbie collections.
In my adult life, I’ve clothed myself and my family with yard sale finds, furnished parts of my home, and even stocked my Gift-Closet with yard sale treasures. If you’re a little green to yard-sailing, or maybe just rusty, here are some tips I’ve learned to help you make the most of a Saturday morning!
Before You Begin: Chart Your Course
With the rise in gas prices, yard-sailing has become a more expensive pastime than in years gone by. The only way to sail the subdivisions without spending a fortune is to map out your route ahead of time. How? If you’re a serious couponer – you know that a good plan can make ALL the difference. Everyone has their own method, but here’s mine:
- Buy a paper as you head out OR check the local newspaper online *My favorite option
- Print out the list and mark the ones you REALLY want to hit
- Group together sales that are near each other, so you can see what area of town has the most bang for your gas buck
- Finally, chart an efficient path to hit the sales you most want to visit
- Don’t recognize the road? Mapquest it!
After charting a course for your treasure-hunt, it’s time to get down to business. Here are several tips and tricks I’ve learned to get what you want and pay what you want.
☀YARD SALE TIPS☀
1) If at all possible, go the first day of the sale
That’s when most of the treasures will disappear quickly. I mean REALLY quickly. Like 6 am.
2) If you can’t make it early, make it late
On the last day of a sale, when the homeowners have been sitting in the sun haggling over prices for too many hours, they’ll likely take whatever you’re willing to offer to avoid hauling everything back inside. I’ve gotten many things totally free by showing up after 12.
3) Friendly Small-Talk Pays Off!
On your way up the drive, wave and smile! Chat about the weather. Ask if they’ve done well so far. Sellers are MUCH more willing to cut a deal when you’ve been friendly – silent strangers don’t engender much generosity.
When you’re strapped for time/gas money – search for these: Neighborhood/Subdivision Yard Sales, Church Rummage Sales, or School Sales. These will yield the biggest selection of stuff, with the least amount of driving around. Plus, church yard sales are VERY CHEAP!!!
5) Carry small bills and change:
Although it’s no crime to talk someone down from $5 to $2 for a cute set of dishes, it will hurt their feelings when you brandish your crisp $20 bill to pay for it. It’s just bad form, sailor!
6) Buy in Bulk.
When you’ve picked out an armful of items you can often get the seller to give you a multi-item discount. If you’ve got $10 worth of t-shirts in your arms, you should definitely ask “Will you take $7 for all these?” You’d be surprised at how many times the answer is “Sure!”
7) Big-Ticket-Item Strategy:
Mrs. Smith was very attached to her old couch. She needs to sell it, but her memories won’t let it go cheaply. But she’s asking $200 – Argghh!!! You really, really NEED a couch, but what can you do? See the following protocol for “Big Ticket” haggling….
✭”The Haggle”: Ask if she would take $100 for the couch. Notice aloud that there are a few stains and a rip on the side, even murmur a “Hmmm, I don’t know…” or two while circling the couch. She still won’t budge on the price? Well, either try to meet her halfway (between your offer and her price) or it’s time to stage….
✭”The Walkaway”: In order to be a good bargaineer, you have to be willing to walk away. I suggest walking slowly, with wistful backwards glances thrown in. In my experience, this will yield a “shout-out” 60% of the time. For instance they might say, “You know, if you really want that I’ll take $$!!” or “Tell you what, give me $$$ and it’s yours!”
Of course, if they don’t call out, and you’re not ready to give up hope – just pretend you were walking to your car for pen and paper so that you could do this…
✭The “Here’s My Number”: If a yard sale is still in progress, and Mrs. Smith is still holding out hope to sell her beloved couch for $200, she’s not likely to go down on the price. However, there is one more chance to get what you want. Give her your phone number and tell her why you need the item. I know, this sounds corny, but it works. For instance: “Listen, I really love this couch, but I honestly can’t afford what you’re asking. If you don’t end up selling it, I can offer you $50. I know that’s not what you’re hoping for, but we really need a new couch and I love it so much I couldn’t leave without trying!” We got our whole living room set totally free that way.
(NOTE: I’m not suggesting in the least that you lie to get something you want – when I got my couches for free, I truly could only offer the seller $50 for them. A bargain is no bargain at all if it costs your integrity!)
I hope some of these tips might prove helpful as Yard-Sale season sets in. Most importantly, you should enjoy the adventure – and if you’re trying to save money, avoid buying “Stuff” just because it’s cheap. With your map in your pocket, hot coffee in your thermos, and a hopeful spirit- you’ll be ready to sail through a sea of subdivisions!
- Stay Tuned for the second Crash Course: HOSTING a yard sale! Coming soon….