Thursday, April 14, 2011

Tips for shopping at yard sales

Yard sales are fast becoming a year-round endeavor but we are in the season where they hit their peak. For everyone who does a little spring cleaning and decluttering, April and May are a great months to get rid of those items that are still good are never used.

I love to go to yard sales. I don't like to spend all day at it and I certainly don't like to waste gas so I set some parameters for myself and try doing a little homework and so far, it has been a great thing for me.

Here are my hints and tips for yard sale-ing (Some are mine and some tips from friends and family who have it down to a science.):

* Look online at the listings in your local paper, or better yet, buy the paper. They always have listings. Our local paper is I think the best yard sales advertise because they usually do  more planning.

* Check to see if you have a local websites that lets people list yard free yard sales. Ours is

* Using google maps or a GPS, map out your route the night before. I try to stay within a five mile radius of my house. Gas IS almost $4 a gallon, you know! When you get in the car, use a GPS to help you find the shortest route to the yard sale.

* If possible, go with a friend to share gas expenses.

* If a person is having a sale on Friday and Saturday, Friday is usually the best day. If they only are selling on Saturday, go early.

* Look for signs along your route. Sometimes people just put up a sign. I have heard that the more amateurish the sign, the better the yard sale because they probably will be cheaper. I don't know, but it makes sense.

* Moving sales usually are good because people will often sell cheap so they won't have to load items on a truck. I would feel the same way!

* Go as early as possible. The good stuff goes early, especially furniture.

* Set a time limit. I usually only go for an hour or two unless there are sales on every corner.

* Sometimes you can just look from the road and drive by, especially if you are looking for a particular item.

* Don't pay higher prices for things unless you absolutely want the item. Ask if people will take less and don't get upset if they don't. Remember, you are a guest in their yard. There will almost always be an identical item at another yard sale if you go to enough sales. If you only shop an occasional sale, you might want to pay a little more. Don't be afraid to make an offer. If the seller gets offended, it is not your fault, just smile, say thanks and move on. You will not be the only one making offers or expecting deals.

* Make a list of things you really want and always look for that item. You will eventually find it, amazingly enough.

* It is best to take some small bills with you because people don't always have change early.

* I think if someone doesn't have their stuff out when their yard sale starts, they probably don't have anything worthwhile. I never go back unless they tell me they have something really great I am looking for.

* Don't turn your nose up at clothes. I have found things with price tags still on them that I have enjoyed. I find plenty of gardening clothes.

* I will pay a little more for children's clothes if they are in really good shape.

* I usually don't buy shoes unless they are new or I feel I can disinfect them without causing damage to the shoe.

* Never, ever buy mattresses or bedding you can't wash at yard sales. Two words bed bugs. That should be reason enough. I am not sure I would even buy sofas or decorative pillows either. I don't buy anything that can't be washed.

* Always ask yourself if you have room for the item, if you really need it, or if it is really necessary.

* If it is lovely and expensive, I just pass it up. If someone tells me what they paid for it as an excuse to price it high, I just smile and move on. If I want to pay a big price, I will just buy it new. Those items should be sold on ebay or Craigslist, for Pete's sake!

* Things I love to buy at yard sales. Napkins, sheets in good condition that can be bleached, serving dishes, tea cups, pitchers, glass serving dishes, silver -- if I love it and think it is worth cleaning, stoneware for cooking, sometimes wood furniture -- though I always have to keep in mind I will need to refinish it, books, some clothes if they are in great shape, lamps, photo frames and wall hangings.

Happy Yard Sale-ing. Hope you find some great deals!

1 comment:

  1. Great tips, Deberah! I enjoy yard sales but haven't been to too many in Georgia.

    Now when I lived in Missouri, oh my - we went to some sensational yard sales! Missouri is so varied, with so many great cities & small towns - you just came to 'expect the unexpected!'

    Near St. Louis is a city called Hermann -
    fabulous area, filled with wineries, Mai Fests, Octoberfests & very friendly folks. And fun yard sales - I remember getting some beautiful German dishes, at a yard sale.

    Near Columbia is a town called Boonville -
    another great small town, very friendly folks!
    They had community get-togethers and I remember tents set up with yard sale items, featuring hand made linens and laces, very nice hand work.

    I have so many fond memories of Missouri, with the exception of the cold was a little too cold for me, a girl born in Miami. So here I am in Georgia, a great state & great seasons: a gorgeous spring, lovely fall, mild winter and, what can you say about summer? 'Hit the beach,' and you will survive!

    Hope you have a nice weekend and thanks for the yard sale tips, Joanie