Yard Sales Tag Sales Fleamarkets

photo by Marija jure. at sxc.hu
photo by Marija jure. at sxc.hu
photo by LPartridge at sxc.hu
photo by LPartridge at sxc.hu

Yard sales, tag sales, fleamarkets, estate sales, I love them all. Some of the nicest things I own were haggled for, bargained for, and surprisingly, sometimes 'free'.

It's been said by many of my friends/family that when they come to my home they feel 'comfortable', that I create a 'cozy, inviting' atmosphere. Others will say, 'too much stuff'. To each his own, I say :)

Back in the 90s, I spent 2 or 3 summers working the fleamarket. I enjoyed every minute of it, however, quite often I found myself coming home with more than I went with LOL,,,

There were those purchases, that, after a month or so, I'd see the item, and think, WHAT possessed me to buy that? By the same token, there are some things I will never part with.

The Fleamarket

But, getting back to working the fleamarket, there are a few guidelines I'd like to share:

1. Do NOT insult the seller. If they have an item you like listed for say, $20, do NOT offer $1. It is tasteless and rude. One seller I will not forget, who must have had several bad experiences, had a sign made for her table, that went something like, 'I got in my car, paid for the gas, went in search of the item, brought it home, cleaned/repaired it, packed it, loaded it into my car and unpacked it to put on this table. If that is not worth more than $1, please keep walking'. She and I had a good laugh over it, but she had a point.

2. A kind way to approach a seller, because, let's face it, we're all out for a bargain, or with the hope that we'll stumble upon that mis-marked treasure that we KNOW is worth a fortune, lol, is to simply admire it, examine it, and ask, is this price the best you can do? Let's say the price is $40. If they say no, you need to decide if you still want it bad enough. If they come back with 'I'll go $35, you can then say, how about $33? Get the idea? Just try to meet somewhere in the middle.

3. Sellers, when setting up your table, make sure all items are marked, this way, if you have a crowd around your table, the customer doesn't have to do a dance to get your attention for a price. There are those sellers who do not mark their items, and that obviously also works too, because you might not be quite sure what you want for it till someone expresses an interest in it, so it's kind of a 'seat of the pants' approach. You will find what works best for you.

4. Also, there are those people who put out lovely, pristine things, or, old, vintage things cleaned up very nicely. My own preference is no tags, no cleaning, unless the item is absolutely disgusting lol,,, Different approaches for different clientele. There are the shoppers who look for nothing but new, and those who love nothing better than to dig thru boxes. I am one of the latter.

5. Above all, be honest. If the item doesn't work, say so. If you cannot let an item go for less than what you are asking, say so, and give a reason why. The customer will appreciate it. I cannot tell you how many times I have been deceived, when, after getting the item home, something went unnoticed and unmentioned. I have learned to examine things very closely.

Also, do NOT mark an item for more than you really want for it, so that you end up with what you wanted to begin with. That is deceitful and very bad business.

6. Customers, ask questions. What is the age? maker? has it been repaired? does it need repair? if so, any idea what that might cost? Then you can determine if you want to spend your hard-earned money on the item.

I personally have a flair for 'rescuing' lamps, old, crusty, lamps. I am fortunate to have a lamp man right at the fleamarket I sell at. He has repaired all my lamps, and I buy my beautiful new shades and vintage finials (if the lamp is without) from him. He has told me on many occasions, that I have a good eye for lamps. One in particular that I purchased was $3, no harp, shade or finial. He said it was a Cordey lamp, worth about $75 new, about 50 yrs ago, so I had a pretty good investment for $3 :)

Yard Sales, Tag Sales

I have found that some of the best, cheapest items can be had at these types of sales, although the fleamarket runs closely behind.

Estate Sales

Perfect if you are looking for a particular item, or a very high-end item. If you are tasked with running one, I can't help you there :)

One more tip: Sellers and buyers, be sure to have plenty of singles on hand, and more than enough. Nothing worse than either the seller or buyer not having the enough money to make change, or enough money for a purchase.

Lastly, (cause if I don't stop here, I could just go on and on), go out and search for that missing piece, that treasure you've always longed for, and please, have fun doing it!!

photo by sxc.hu
photo by sxc.hu

Comments 24 comments

robie2 profile image

robie2 8 years ago from Central New Jersey

Me too, Patty, I love fleamarkets, tag sales,auctions and rummaging through antique shops I live near Lambertville,NJ where there is a wonderful flea market every week-end and one of my favorite activities is to go to the flea market before 8am, coffee in hand, just to see what's there. Sometimes I buy--sometimes not. The fun is in the browsing for me. I like your recommendations for both buyers and sellers--common sense, honesty and mutual respect never go out of style. Good hub. Thanks.


trish1048 profile image

trish1048 8 years ago Author

Hi Robie,

Thanks so much for your comments.  Lambertville!  my 'dream' town!  I think, if I were to retire, I'd spend many days in my hunt for that treasure, that perfect finishing touch,,,I am often inspired by just one item, either in decorating or color schemes.  The room will take on a life of its own with just one detail to get you going.

I have been thru Lambertville, but never shopped there.  There is a show, or was, on HGTV I believe, or perhaps TLC channel that was about this 4 state yard sale.  I forget what states, but basically it was one route thru all 4, now that is my idea of heaven!  To be able to find the most fantastic things for little money.  The main problem of course, is, I do not own a house, nor will I ever own a house that is big enough to accommodate my passion.  So I just do what I can with what I have.

Thanks again and happy hunting! 

Patty


robie2 profile image

robie2 8 years ago from Central New Jersey

Well, the flea market is just outside lambertville,in a big field near the river road(Rte29). It's called " The Golden Nuggett" and there are tables and tables of all sorts of things. I tend to like old photos and books and odd personal item. I often feel kind of sad at the old photos--I wonder who these people were and why their photos are in a fleamarket and not in some family scrapbook somewhere:-) I wish you happy hunting too--may you find a fabulous treasure at the next yard sale and write about it on Hubpages:-)


trish1048 profile image

trish1048 8 years ago Author

I've had that exact same thought about old photos. I see them everywhere, thrift shops, junk shops, fleamarkets. Very sad.

Thanks again for your kind comments :)

Patty


Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 8 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

Patty, you are so right on.  It's a two-way street.  If you want a good yard sale, estate sale, flea market experience, then both buyer and seller need to respect each other.  Sometimes that happens, sometimes it doesn't. I agree with you about not setting a higher price just to bargain down a prospective buyer. That might work in Egypt or on the lower east side in New York.  But for the most part, buyers are pretty smart about what they want, and if your price is reasonably set, then you can have fun bargaining on pennies or little dollars, if that's what you like to do, and everybody goes away happy.

robie2, Golden Nugget is a place dear to my heart. My family has been selling there for 40 years.  It's got high-end, low-end, limited bathrooms, and lots of coffee.  That trip up or down 29 at 4:30 in the morning is the devil's curse with the fog from the river.  Cheers to all of you who sell or buy there before 7 A.M.!


robie2 profile image

robie2 8 years ago from Central New Jersey

ohmygosh ST--this is old home week:-) I have to admit to being a spring and summer browser but I do like to get there early--for me that's not till 7:30 or so and you are soooo right about 29. Maybe we'll run into each other there one of these days--if so I'll buy you a cup of coffeeLOL. Here's to the Golden Nugget and Hubpages!


Zsuzsy Bee profile image

Zsuzsy Bee 8 years ago from Ontario/Canada

great hub! My Mom used to be a great garage sale hunter. Most friday evenings she sat at the kitchen table with the newspaper devising her route. Some of my older daughter's favorite memories of her Grandma are of the Saturday mornings when she became the navigator. The two were out rain or shine, once Mom couldn't interest my sister and I to tag along anymore. (I'm a pack rat and as I have no self restraint it's the worst places for me to go to as I can always find treasures that I just can't live without.)

great hub regards Zsuzsy


trish1048 profile image

trish1048 8 years ago Author

Hi Zsuzsy, thanks for the comments.

My mom and I shared yard sales, etc, and my kids USED to like to go, but once they got older they wanted no part of it. I, on the other hand, still love to go.

Sorry for the late reply,,,and thanks again.


skatoolaki profile image

skatoolaki 8 years ago from Louisiana

I have *always* had trepidation about "haggling" - something that's almost a prerequisite when shopping in the French Market in New Orleans (which I live close to). Thanks for the great tips and advice; it's really not so daunting when you have an idea of what to do and what's expected/usual.


trish1048 profile image

trish1048 8 years ago Author

Ohhhhhhh,,,I went to Mardi Gras in the early 90s, how I wish I had discovered the French Market, but my head was elsewhere then. Lucky you!

Thanks for the comments!

Patty


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 8 years ago from California Gold Country

I just found this after you mentioned it in a comment to my yard sale hub. your advice is much more practical -- mine just a whimsical observaton.

I am always reluctant to haggle-- but my husband is not at all shy in seeking a better bargain. Most sellers seem to expect this. Good tips!


trish1048 profile image

trish1048 8 years ago Author

Hi Rochelle,

Interesting, because I loved your take on yard sales, in fact I was sitting here thinking gee, this is too funny, and so many of the things you said were exactly right, so, I loved the humor you put into yours.

In my years, and I do mean years of experience with this stuff, sellers absolutely expect to get bargained down.  However, my feeling about that is, because they expect it, they purposely ask for a higher price, so that when you get them to lower it, they are really getting what they wanted to get in the first place.  I'm not saying all are devious like that, but there are a lot. I have also, upon occasion, run into sellers who get highly insulted when asked if they could lower their price.  Many years ago my girlfriend and I went to a yard sale at an old farmhouse, and we saw this gorgeous HUGE basket, so she inquired as to the price.  The woman said $75.  My girlfriend was outraged and commented to her, we're out here to find a bargain, not finance your move.  I'm not sure that was the right thing to say, probably it wasn't, but that's how my girlfriend felt at that time.

Thanks so much for stopping by and your kind comments,

Trish


RUTHIE17 8 years ago

Great Hub and some great advice. Love to hit the garage sales, estate sales, flea markets and thrift stores. Just NEVER know what you'll find!

Regarding your #3 tip--(and I've been on both sides of the table) I find that if it's not marked, most people will just sit it down and not ask about a price. Difference in areas, maybe?


trish1048 profile image

trish1048 8 years ago Author

Hi Ruthie, nice to see you!

No, I don't think the area has anything to do with it.  A lot of people, I have found, are uncomfortable asking and I don't know why to be honest.  My guess is, is that they think you'll want more than they're willing to spend, so they just don't bother asking.  I have even found myself, a seasoned seller and buyer, sometimes reluctant to ask because I have the same thought, that the item is too nice, or it's something I know is worth more than a few dollars so why bother. 

I have learned to not do that anymore, because if it is more than I can afford, or want to spend, I simply say, I'm sorry, that's a little out of my range.

One time there was a gorgeous ornate bedside lamp, cast iron, painted a lovely cream color, with a lovely design of painted flowers. The shade too was metal with original 'windowpanes' made of cloth, vintage 1920s. I know from buying on Ebay that those generally fetch good money, $50 or more.

There was a man holding it, examining it, and I just stood there, hoping against hope he'd put it down. I already knew in my head how much I could afford to spend. So, I waited, and after chatting with the seller, the man decided not to purchase it. I immediately asked the seller, how much are you asking for that? His reply was $35. I stood there,,then said, would you be willing to take $25? He thought a moment, and said sure. I was so excited.

I then took it to the indoor market to my lamp man, who made a tiny repair to it, rewired it, and I then had a lamp I've always wanted for less than $50.

There were some, well, actually more than some days when someone would ask the price, I'd tell them, and they'd start to walk away.  I would then relent and say, ok,,how about this much?  Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't. 

There were also times when I sold things that I KNEW were worth good money and allowed myself to practically give it away because the days sales were slim.  Then there were also times I purposely put a really cheap price on a large item just so I wouldn't have to cart it back home.  I got rid of a huge, gorgeous fan-back wicker chair one time for the lowly price of $20.  Even though that hurt, I had to remind myself that my purpose in selling is to be rid of the stuff, not become an instant millionaire lol,,,

Thanks for stopping by!


C. C. Riter 7 years ago

I love it too! Got lots of storage space too, for now. The season will start before long, until then.


trish1048 profile image

trish1048 7 years ago Author

Hi C.C.,

Yes the season will soon be upon us.  In the meantime, there are thrift shops, junk shops and estate sales.  Truthfully, I've cut way back on my collecting.  I've purchased 4 books since last August.  I've had to seriously watch my finances, so I'm much more careful.  I do have tons of things here that I can sell however, so that will be good.  Just as long as I remember not to trade the old for the 'new' old LOL.  Definitely, storage space is desperately needed here, so as long as I keep that in mind, I should do ok.

Thanks for stopping by and commenting.


KCC Big Country profile image

KCC Big Country 7 years ago from Central Texas

My dad was the garage sale king.  I grew up going to garage sales.  There was a point when I hated them because they seemed to represent 'the best we could do' and it cheapened the fun.   Now, they're fun again.  But, I despise going through a box.  If you can't find a way to set it out on some sort of table surface, then I don't want to see it.   My ex husband loved the boxed items since he felt most people were like me and he'd be the one to find the hidden treasure.


trish1048 profile image

trish1048 7 years ago Author

My mother in law introduced me to yard sales and I've been hooked ever since. My mom loved to go to, and we often went to the thrift shops as well when the kids were young. My daughter outgrew wanting to go as it became boring for her. Oddly, my father in law was also a 'king', but of the fleamarket. He sold there all the time. Most of the time new stuff but some old as well. I also had neighbors who loved it and sometimes 3 of us would go through towns on their clean-up days, but only under cover of darkness LOL. You'd be amazed at the stuff we'd find. I do share the excitement your hubby has about digging through boxes. If you've ever watched Antiques Roadshow, you'll know why. Once a little girl found a painting with no frame, worth to the tune of over $20,000. So that is the appeal and hope, to become rich over some lost treasure.


marisuewrites profile image

marisuewrites 7 years ago from USA

Hi Trish, my husband and I furnished most homes over the years with another's man trash and our treasure! While he is more into the flea markets than I, I love them for an hour or two. Mainly, I love a great bargain on something I need/want.

Lynn and I have many years of shopping garage/yard/flea market sales...great memories. =)) you have provided wonderful information here!! A real "sales" guide!


trish1048 profile image

trish1048 7 years ago Author

Hi Marisue!

All of my homes too have been furnished with finds.  It was rare to buy something brand new.  I do remember in the 70s, my hubby bought me a brand new bedroom set.  I was blown away.  Later on, we purchased a new oak kitchen set, rolltop desk and a new living room set.

Since then, I've given those things away, and purchased some more things, some new, some not.  Last year I was at my favorite fleamarket, and this guy had this gorgeous rectangular leather-covered table.  It was a dark wood with original hardware, both of which had that gorgeous patina that comes with age.  The curious thing about it was, it also had two brass stirrups at the end.  Turns out it was an old gynecological table.  I asked how much he wanted for it, and he said $350, which actually wasn't bad I thought.  The problem is, I no longer have the home to put it in.  Oh, you ask why would I even consider such a thing?  Well, I tend to love unique things, and I thought wow!  if I was still in my house I'd put it in the huge living room I had, figured it would make a great conversation starter, and heaven knows what else LOL.

It's good to hear you have good memories of the sales, because even if you don't buy, it's neat to see all the things and wonder about their history and origin.

I'm definitely toying with having a sale before full blown summer hits.  It's a matter of taking the time off and rounding up help.  Sally offered her help last year but I couldn't get my act together and it was edging towards fall really quick.  So, maybe this year.

Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting, always nice to see you.


marisuewrites profile image

marisuewrites 7 years ago from USA

yard sales are equal to moving on my list of personal icks. It's a barn burner as my grandmother 'n her sisters used to say. LOL toooo much work. Decisions about what to get rid of are not my strength, thus the hard time I'm currently having with packing.

=)) keep writing!!!


trish1048 profile image

trish1048 7 years ago Author

Hey Marisue!

At least with moving, the things are going to their new places of honor.  The yard sale thingie is just shifting crap back and forth.  Too good to throw away, yet it doesn't get used when it's in the house, nor is there any longer room for the stuff,,,so it goes from corner to corner to shed and back.  If I had a backbone, I'd throw it all in boxes, seal em up, close my eyes and toss em in the trash.

But nooooooooo,,,,,this is a treasure, and oh no!, can't part with that, and oh, but I made that in 4th grade, and oh heavens, that might be worth money some day.  Eeeek! 

I feel your pain Marisue LOL

Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

PS:  I did keep writing, I put a hub out a few days ago :)


ronibgood profile image

ronibgood 7 years ago

Great and fun advice. Especially with today's economy.


trish1048 profile image

trish1048 7 years ago Author

Thanks roni!

It seems as though I may not have a yard sale any time soon unless the weather cooperates.  It's only April and we've had 2 days of 90+ and another one staring at us tomorrow.  They claim it will go back down to 50s or 60s by Wednesday.  I sure hope so, I hate the heat.

Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

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