I’m a girl who loves a good garage sale. It first got into my blood two summers ago-all it took was one jackpot of a sale (amazing baby boy clothes that pretty much outfitted my little guy for a year-not kidding!) and I was hooked. Last summer, my husband and I were busy training for our century rides, and so my Saturday mornings were completely spoken for. And I missed it!
I’m back in the yard-sale-saddle this summer. Right now, it’s pretty much the only thing I’ll set my alarm for on a weekend morning (eight months pregnant, people, don’t judge). It’s one of my favorite things to do with my mom, and I gotta tell you, we’ve hit some good ones this summer. But we went to our local neighborhood experts, Emily and Manina (check out Manina’s blog here!), to give you the serious tips about how to do the garage sale search and how to do it well. Here’s what they said…
1. Have a plan. Check out listings (check your local classifieds!) for yard sales the night before you go and map them according to the time they start and which ones sound the most promising (multi-family, neighborhood, moving or list something you are interested in in the ad). We generally give preference to the ads that list things we want. We usually go to yard sales nearby each other first (hit more in less amount of time). We also know, if we notice right away that clothes are listed high, we probably ought to make the stop quick. We have seen way too many great deals out there to be spending a lot of money on yard sale items. This helps us make the best use of our time.
2. Arrive on time or even a little early to the first one to have the best selection.
3. Offer less than the asking price because most are willing to go down.
4. Go often and be patient! I go a lot. If there is something you need but can wait to get it, you probably can find it at a yard sale for a fraction of the price you would pay for it new, if you are patient.
5. Go with a purpose. I often keep a list at home of things I need. If you really want to be successful, keep a list of sizes (for clothes, bikes, boots, etc.) for each person you might be shopping for. If you know what you want, you will be amazed how quickly those things jump out to you when you are looking. It is funny, because Emily and I often mention to each other what we are looking for and it isn’t too long before one of us sees it.
6. Be willing to dig. I can’t tell you how many times I have dug around in bag or boxes of stuff and found amazing little treasures. Too often I see people get out of their car, look around and hop back in and drive away without really looking. You will miss so much if you won’t put in the effort to look.
7. Think and inspect before you buy. There is a thrill I get when I am finding all these good deals. It won’t take long that your .50 purchases add up and you have spent $20 or more. If you are spending an extra $20+ a week, that can really up over a month. I try to stay on a budget. After I get my pile of stuff together at a yard sale, I look through my stuff, inspect for stains, holes, or other imperfections and decide if I really want/need it. Too often I get home and wonder what I was thinking. Too many of those experiences and I have blown through my wad for the month.
8. Know your stuff. Let’s be honest, most yards sales have piles and piles of stuff. It is overwhelming. I think knowing quality brands is a big deal for me. I don’t mind spending a $1-$2 on a name-brand, good-condition shirt, but I am only going to be willing to spend .25 or .50 cents for a shirt that I wouldn’t expect to hold up or last as long. This Saturday I got a nearly full bottle of perfume that I knew retailed for $65. It had probably been used a handful of times and I only paid $2.
So, we also asked them the best deal they ever got on the hunt…
Emily: One of best deals I ever got was a very nice bunk bed set with two mattresses in great shape for $25 for a niece who was needing one.
Manina: I have had SO many great yard sale finds that it is difficult to narrow it down to just one. My very favorite pair of dress shoes I wear, I purchased at a yard sale. I knew they were an expensive brand and I got them for $2 in brand new condition. Nearly two years later, I wear them often. I checked online and they retail for $80. However, my best deals are generally on bikes. I have purchased 4-5 bikes from yard sales, all of which were high quality brands (Novara, Trek, and Electra to be specific). I got the 20 inch Novara bike with tires that were obviously barely used with “nubs” still on the tires. The bike retails new at REI for about $200 plus tax. I got it for $25. A year later it is in great condition and I could probably resell it in the next year for about $75. Pretty sweet! As a side note, I don’t go to yard sales to buy stuff and resell it, but every summer I try to find an item or two that is underpriced that I will buy and resell on KSL. I have made more than $50 on items and a couple of those can feed my habit all summer long.