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Expert Yard Sales Tips For Finding Your Yard Sale Treasures

Updated on May 28, 2014

Some Fantastic Yard Sale Signs

Efficient yard sale experts have a "Passion" for saving...
Efficient yard sale experts have a "Passion" for saving... | Source
Yard sale philosophy.
Yard sale philosophy. | Source

The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and everyone is emerging from their winter hibernation. There is a serene sense of calm as the sun dances on the morning dew and fresh cut grass can be smelt as you awaken to a warm spring morning. Suddenly, you burst out of bed when you remember it is one of the most important times of the year, it is the beginning of yard sale season!

Every year, millions of individuals and families awaken to the same startling revelation, they have too much stuff. Rather than look to be the featured household on an episode of hoarders, many will set up a makeshift marketplace and put out their excess for sale. This is where you, the avid yard sale aficionado comes in. There are plenty of amateur yard sale attendees that participate in this offbeat buying scenario. However, "yardsaling" is easy to start, but much more difficult to master. There are some special ways that you can become an expert when it comes to the roadside sale. Here are some tips that will help you to get some of the best prices, and find the best stuff at your friendly neighborhood yard sale.

Get In The Yard Sale Mood & Sing Along!

1. Show up early – If you are an early bird looking to catch a big fat discount worm, being the first one out can be a great benefit. You will usually get first dibs on anything for sale if you can manage to roll out of bed early on a weekend morning. However, be careful that you do not make a nuisance of yourself and come with flashlights before the sun has even risen. Nothing will annoy a seller more than having to chase away early morning birds that become vultures when they try to dig before the seller is set up and open for business.

2. Mind the weather – Nothing will hamper a yard sale adventure more than soggy or scorching shopping conditions. Even if it is raining on your yard sale parade, there are some advantages and disadvantages to this situation. The first advantage is that you will see less buyer competition. If you put on your parka and bring an umbrella, you will see fewer people out then on a sunny day. Another advantage is that since sellers will be seeing fewer customers, they will be willing to negotiate on price more since they will have fewer opportunities. These advantages are very situation-specific, and bad weather brings some disadvantages.

The first is that shopping in the rain is much less enjoyable. It will be tough to get excited about finding bargains when you need to buy a boat to get to them. Another issue is that many what I like to call “fair-weathers”. These are sellers that will close early or not even open at all if weather conditions are adverse. Those yard sale flyers you follow like a treasure map may lead you to nowhere if the weather is bad enough. Another disadvantage is the potential for damaged items. If you end up buying some clothing or linens that were only to be washed at the dry cleaners, bad weather can end up ruining them before you can get them home. A final weather disadvantage is that sellers may be in less of a mood to negotiate with you if they have had to get soaked covering their goods, or they have been baked in the sun all day.

A Group of Yard Sales is the Greatest Ally for a Savvy Yardsaler
A Group of Yard Sales is the Greatest Ally for a Savvy Yardsaler

3. Seek out the gems – If you are going “yardsaling” then you should jump in with both feet. I have encountered plenty of half committed “salers” that will go to a few houses, but then abandon their search for that one special item. If you want to become an expert yard sale patron, you need to be willing to get your hands a little dirty. Don’t be afraid to investigate an interesting looking box near the back of the garage, and be willing to drive the extra mile to a more far off sale, who knows what you may end up finding. Leave any whiners at home and be prepared to make your yard sale trip into a complete value finding expedition.

4. Create Clusters – While it can be worth it to go out of your way for a special find on occasion, if you spend hours searching you will just end up with an empty gas tank and a trunk devoid of any yard sale treasures. One way to avoid this is to know the best environment for quality yard sales. The first of these is to look for community yard sales. Whenever a group of families are setting up to sell together, there will be plenty of opportunities to hunt for great deals. Also, if you know the area you will be shopping in, try to stick to places with houses close together, that way you will maximize your trip to a single location. A third option is to keep an eye out for piggy back sellers. If you arrive at a house with a sale because they had a newspaper ad or posted online, there will likely be some neighbors putting on a sale as well. They will be looking to capitalize on some free exposure, and giving you more buying opportunities. A final point is to effectively plan your trip. If you are able to chart a course that takes you to as many sales as possible, and minimizes your time spent in transit, you will become a much more efficient yardsaler.

5. Put yourself out there (A little bit) – Feel free to chat up the seller whenever you are at a yard sale. They are likely not professional salesmen; they are just average folks looking to clear out the garage. My point in telling you to put yourself out there is that if you become friendly with them you can probably get yourself a discount on some items. Also, if you find an item you really want, and can let the buyer know the worthy cause you have for the item (such as using that baseball glove to play catch with your kids) you will be able to pull on heartstring that may save your wallet a little bit. However, moderation is needed for this scenario as well. If you are explaining to the seller that you need this certain book they are selling in order to complete a set so you can make a big profit selling it on Ebay, you will not be getting any discounts. Keep any resell thoughts to yourself, and don’t make yourself seem desperate if you find your Holy Grail of yard sale purchases.

6. Come late – Just like there are benefits to arriving at a sale early, the same can be said about coming later in the day. One benefit is that you can serve as a cleanup assistant. If you arrive at a yard sale in the final stages, keep an eye out for large, heavy items that would be annoying to move around. You have a much greater chance of getting these items for cheap later in the day. The reason for this is that a seller goes into inventory burning mode when it is almost time to pack up. You can transform an item that was previously a garage eye sore that now has to be repacked and stored, into a few bucks in a seller’s pocket, AND they don’t have to deal with it anymore. Your negotiating skills become much stronger when you are making the seller’s cleanup load smaller. This tactic has some downfalls though. Of course the first is that you may miss out on rare or sought after items by coming to the party later. A second issue is that you can miss a sale altogether by coming too later. Walmart might be 24 hours, but a yard sale can close at a moment’s notice if there are no customers or a seller has something more important to do. Finally, do not arrive at a sale after the posted time has ended. While my family was moving we had some enthusiastic buyers show up an hour after we had cleaned up, expecting an antique road show treatment and for us to unpack everything again just for them. Obviously we chose to decline the offer for obvious reasons.

If you are able to follow these pointers you will be able to become a well trained yard sale expert. Just remember that the key is to avoid becoming an annoyance by arriving to early or two late, make the seller value you as a buyer, and plan your trip accordingly. If you follow these steps you will have great success this yard sale season. Good luck and happy hunting!

Maybe You Too Will Become a Famous Yard Sale Patron.

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    • EvanWright profile image
      Author

      Evan Wright 4 years ago from Minneapolis, MN

      Thanks Hawaiian! I figured it was time to bring some of those yard sale tips that come from our ancestors out of the history books and into the digital age. Thanks again and enjoy your day as well!

    • hawaiianodysseus profile image

      Hawaiian Odysseus 4 years ago from Southeast Washington state

      Written like a true-blue yardsale attendee, Evan! I loved the points you made here that I knew about but was now seeing for the first time in print, and I especially appreciated the tips I hadn't thought about. Great job with this one, my friend! Aloha, and have a great day!

      Joe

    • EvanWright profile image
      Author

      Evan Wright 4 years ago from Minneapolis, MN

      Yes ma'am, I am always happy when the search is made a little easier. Sometimes I even come across some community pages that list some "mega-sales" on their events page. Thanks for reading and good luck in your yard sale adventures!

    • justateacher profile image

      LaDena Campbell 4 years ago from Somewhere Over The Rainbow - Near Oz...

      Love yard sales! I find lots of great deals for my grandkids! Another way to find and map out sales is to go through Craigslist...they list them and sometimes list by area!