We all headed out for some finds this week but came up empty handed for foodie finds. Actually I spent just $2 after a couple hours of looking, came home with a watering can and 6 hotwheels. I think this illustrates an important point: you don’t always find the deals on any given outing. But you can increase your chances by following the tips below.
1) Get out early!
I can’t emphise this enough. If it’s a bargin, chances are, other people will find the item attractive the for price as well. You have to beat those people to it. The average starting time of sales in our area is 9am. If I really want the deals, I’m at my first sale by 9am. Now, I’m not one to stalk people before they open, but if it’s after 9 and they said they are starting at 9 or they already put their signs at the road, I’m there. They may still be pricing and setting stuff out. Just be respectful and patient, it always takes longer to get things set up for a sale than you expect or budget time for.
Getting out early isn’t just about the time of day, it’s also about the day that you go as well. Around us, a majority of sales start on Thursday and if you are fortunate enough to make that work for your schedule, this is the day to shop. I do all my shopping on Thursdays.
2) Keep moving
Similar to getting there early, other people are shopping at the same time as you. You can’t be everywhere at once, you’ve got ground to cover. Don’t spend too long in any one place. Keep moving, but be pleasant. I love getting out and meeting new people. I like to smile and take part in small talk, but I do so as I scan over their goods. Know what you’re looking for, see what they have to offer, if it’s not things on your list, move on to the next.
3) Do your homework and map it out
With gas prices as high as they are, I never just go out saling without a plan of where I’m heading. Scan craigslist the night before. Or make use of smart phone apps that make life so much easier by pulling listing from Craigslist and other sources then compiling them on a map. I can simply look at the map and determine which direction to head in order to hit the most sales. The app I use is Yard Sale Mapper which I paid a couple of dollars for, but it’s been totally worth it. There are some free apps as well if you search around.
4) Be open to negotiate. I never realized just how many people negotiate at yard sales until I had my own. It seemed like everyone wanted to make me an offer. That experience loosened me up to negotiating prices in my own shopping, now that I saw that everyone was doing it. When many people price their sale, they build a little cushion in for negotiations. Just like you price a vehicle for sale, you expect someone is going to offer you less than you are asking, so you mark the price up a bit. It’s often the same at yard sales. However, with that said, if the sale just opened and you are among the first people there, it’s really not a good time to haggle prices. They would really love for someone to come pay the asking price and if they haven’t even gotten a chance to see those people come through yet, they probably won’t be too open to negotiating. The time to negotiate is after the sale has been open all day or several days. Most people don’t want to haul their discards back inside the house, so they will be ready to make a deal as the hours pass by. On the final sale day, you may often find the leftovers, marked down to move. You may even find lots of free items.
Honestly though, I tend to pay the asking price, especially if I think it’s a pretty good deal. The times that I most often make an offer is when I am going back and forth with myself on whether to purchase an item or not. I then will say “Will you take $X?” and I allow that answer to be my deciding factor on whether I purchase it or not.
5) Focus on subwide or city wide sales
Again, with the price of gas what it is, you want to get the most bang for your gas buck when heading out to find your resale treasures. In our area, most every neighborhood or subdivision has a sub-wide sale once (sometimes twice) a year. Many cities have city wide sales. Most of these collective group sales are organized on the same weekend every year (ie 3rd weekend in June, etc). In time, you can learn the pattern and know when to look for sales in your own neighborhoods. Keep your eyes peeled while you are out and about during the week, most of these sub sales will have signs out days (sometimes weeks) before announcing the sale and dates. I pretty much shop exclusively at sub-wide/city wide sales and only stop at others if I just happen to pass it on my way somewhere else. I’ve wasted plenty of gas in the past, heading out to individual sales listed on Craigslist only to find them not even open or a bunch of inaccurately described junk. Lesson learned.
6) Enjoy the hunt
I don’t yard sale because a really NEED these things, I do it because I LOVE the thrill of the hunt. It’s just plain fun to me. And in doing so, I have collected tons of great items over the years that I may never have been able to collectively provide for our family. Tons of super cute clothes, all the big plastic toys and baby gear when the kids were small, now it’s finally treasures for mommy as I’m finding things to use in my kitchen. It’s an adventure. Just enjoy the process. You won’t always find great treasures, but even if it’s a couple of new hot wheels for the kids, it’s an inexpensive little treat that they treasure. Also in bringing my children along with me, I can’t help but to think that I am teaching them valuable life lessons in the process.