6 Tips To Rocking Yard Sales This Weekend!

Tomorrow starts another Yard Sale weekend – woohoo!  I haven’t been able to go the last two weekends due to baby and wedding stuff going on, but you can bet your sweet ass I’ll be out there tomorrow ;) I can’t let you grab ALL the treasures, right?

And since this journalist person didn’t end up caring about my tips I had for him (they were writing a piece on getting the most out of yard sales), his loss has now become your gain, haha… though I’d have shared them with you anyways, of course ;) I’ve learned a lot over the 20 years doing ’em!

My Top Yard Sale Tips & Tricks:

(They only work if  you *follow* them, though!)

  1. Make sure your belly is full, and your bladder empty!  This is rule #1 because the last thing you want to do is be all cranky in the middle of a hot run of sales, and screw up your game plan.  Stuff your face and hit the loo *bef0re* jumping into that car, and then stay right there on the pursuit in front of you… if you need snacks or coffee to keep you alert (I always do!), just bring ’em along with you, that’s allowed ;)
  2. Go as EARLY as possible to get the first look at deals. This is the most obvious rule of thumb, but the hardest to do because it means waking up even earlier on the weekend :( But if you’re serious about getting the *BEST* deals out there – before anyone else even SEES them – this is your best course of action. Start out at 6 or 7 am while all the slackers are still waking up, and then snag all the goodies ASAP! Just be sure to respect any sellers’ wishes that “early birds” stay away (they usually note it on their signs or in their advertisements) because the last thing you want to do is piss off the people you’re trying to woo. (See rule #6 below).
  3. Use an app!  I’m sure there are a ton more out there by now, but the one I’ve always used throughout the past 2+ years is Garage Sale Tracker for the iPhone. It pulls all the sales off of Craigslist and plops them down into a single map where I can easily just touch and re-route to. It’s brilliant. And it saves me a good 30-40 mins trying to scour the web or the paper looking for the best hot spots out there (what I do is bring up the map when I first wake up to see where all the hot spots are, and then plan my trip to go straight there while maybe hitting one or two on the way (I’ll take the roads that get me to pass them)).  The best part of it all is that the app is FREE – even though I’d gladly pay for it ;) Don’t tell them!
  4. Hit the “community” and “church” yard sales first.  You’ll get like 10-20 times more families hosting their own sales, and the best part is that they’re all in the SAME spot!  One community sale can replace 20 others that you’d have picked off one by one, it’s crazy talk.  And even if they’re not all *great* ones (they usually aren’t the best-best out there), it still the most efficient use of your time and money.  Not to mention all the gas and anxiety you’d save from going from one sale to another.  I get so excited I’d probably hyperventilate if I didn’t focus myself ;)
    barnes and cheapo
  5. ALWAYS bargain!  No matter what it is, always ALWAYS always ask for less than what the sellers asking for.  It doesn’t matter if it’s $1.00 or $1,000 – they *expect* to be bargained down!  So give your “perfect scenario” offer first, and then gauge their response to figure out your odds of lowering the price even more. 1 out of 10 times they’ll say no, but you can count on at leas 10-25% off all the rest of the times.  Maybe even 50% (but you’ll never know if you don’t ask!).
  6. Be friendly, smile a lot, and make chit-chat with the sellers.  Everyone’s there to have a good time and make a deal, and just like with everything in sales, connecting with people is key. The more the seller likes you, the more odds of getting stuff cheaper.  Sometimes even for free :) Remember that gold mine I struck with all those coins the other week?  I not only got them discounted down, but I also got one of them for free cuz he liked me – and vice versa.  The more of a rapport you can have, the better deal you’ll end up getting.
  7. **NEW** Always carry change and small bills with you! I can’t believe I forgot to add this one in earlier, thanks for the reminder Freda!  And it’s super important too – the last thing you wanna do is miss out on awesome goodies just cuz you can’t break a $20 or all you have is a credit card. Scour your place for quarters and dollar bills (or start saving them up a week or two before if you’re planning to hit the sales up in the near future), and then just bring it all in a small plastic container so it’s super easy to go around with.  You can also hit up a grocery store to break a $20 or two also, but as long as you get it all ready before the morning of you’ll be a-okay.
  8. **NEW** Take your own bags! A great reminder from Skint in the City down below. It’ll def. make hauling stuff back and forth much easier!

By a show of hands, how many people will be joining me tomorrow?  And how many other tips have I missed here?  Put them in the comments below and let’s make the most comprehensive list yet (I’ll update ’em as they come through). We can’t have too many, right? :)

To Yard Sale Season!

(Top photo by ganesha.isis, bottom photo by EvelynGiggles)

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  1. Money Beagle May 25, 2012 at 7:47 AM

    We find ourselves busy enough that we never have time for these sorts of things, but it is something I’d like to try to conquer, at least just to see how everything works and what finds you can get, at some point down the line. Maybe when the kids are older they might have fun doing this, but for now, it would probably just bore them.

  2. Freda May 25, 2012 at 8:25 AM

    My pet peeve with having a yard sale (having one next weekend) is people who show up before the early-birds with a hundred dollar bill and want to spend 50 cents, I have refused the sales before, bring some change people, we can’t leave! You’re not going to a banking institution at my house! Geeze!

  3. RichUncle EL May 25, 2012 at 9:23 AM

    I always thought of yard sales as a waste of time since most of the stuff people sell is usually junk and a waste of space. But now I am curious to go searching to see what I can find since you found gold at the last one you attended. If you come across old Sega genesis games let me know.

  4. Joe @ Retire By 40 May 25, 2012 at 10:05 AM

    Have a great time! I don’t like yard sales because I don’t want any more stuff, our small condo is full. :)
    Maybe if we have a bigger house, we would go out to more yard sales.

  5. J. Money May 25, 2012 at 10:08 AM

    @Money Beagle – Yeah, you should! Even if for just an hour or two – it’s an interesting ride :) And if you get lucky you’ll come home with a bunch of cheap awesomeness!

    @Freda – YES yes yes!!! Damn, can’t believe I forgot that one – you always need to bring lots of change and small bills! Great reminder :) The last thing you want to do is walk away from a new treasure just cuz you can’t break a bill.

    @RichUncle EL – HAH! I see them almost every time ;) For like $2.00 a game too – you’re missing out, bro!

    @Joe @ Retire By 40 – You don’t have to get *more* stuff though, just *better* stuff ;) Need a newer lawn mower cuz yours crapped out? Pick one up at a yard sale and then get rid of your old one! I’m always trying to upgrade crap stuff at home… though, as you notice, I also do bring in lots of extra stuff too, but that’s just a matter of personal taste.

  6. Daydream Kate May 25, 2012 at 10:41 AM

    Sadly, I will not be joining the garage sale madness this weekend. I promised myself I would not stop at a single one until I have mine in two weeks. But after that, I will be sure to blow all the cash I make!

  7. LifeInTransition May 25, 2012 at 10:43 AM

    I live downtown, so there aren’t any yardsales nearby. I’ve never really found anything worth buying at yardsales in the past, so I don’t know if I can justify the gas/time spent. I do enjoy browsing the Hwy 127 Yardsale in Covington, KY (when I’m in the Cincinnati area) which has been dubbed the world’s longest yardsale. There’s a large variety of booths so I only have to drive to one place and there’s always an interesting assortment of items for sale.

  8. Jen May 25, 2012 at 12:32 PM

    I’m doing the Gypsy Caravan on Memorial Day – one stop shop of awesomeness!

    Pet peeve about the negotiated prices – I don’t negotiate when buying or selling. I spend weeks pricing stuff, and if you can’t buy it for that price, put it down and walk away. I had several people try to talk me down on stuff for a quarter – why? I price it, that’s the price. Maybe, if it’s something really big and expensive like a dining set or 4 tires, I might ask if the price is negotiable. But going in and assuming every price is negotiable really grinds my gears (to quote Peter Griffith).

    Another annoyance – the people who stop by at 6-7 am when the times printed and on signs clearly show 7:30 or 8am. Usually, we’re still setting stuff out and they’re trying to paw through the boxes of stuff. Have the common decency to wait. It’s bad enough it take a good hour to hour and a half to set up, then to have people trying to dig through things while you trying to organize is such a pain.

    I swore I was done with holding yard sales, but mom wants to get rid of the stuff in her basement. I take my stuff to Goodwill if it doesn’t go on Craiglist.

  9. Lance@MoneyLife&More May 25, 2012 at 5:55 PM

    I’m not a big garage saler but I have been when I was younger. Definitely take lots of change (bills and coinage). One tip would be to go to the nicer neighborhoods and see if you can get a steal of a deal on some nicer items.

  10. femmefrugality May 25, 2012 at 6:36 PM

    Every year our library has a huge book sale for all their old books…I love it! It’s a literary yard sale.

  11. J. Money May 26, 2012 at 1:36 PM

    Just got back from 3 hours of yard sale hitting :) Got some goodies!!

    @Daydream Kate – HAH! There you go :) Get rid of stuff you don’t want any more, and then pick up new goodies – I like it!
    @LifeInTransition – Woahhh I’ve never been there! Def. heard of it before and really DO want to check it out one day though. Maybe when I get my RV and go across country in the future ;) That would be a helluva pit stop!
    @Jen – Haha, yeah – I will say that IS an exception with bargaining for sure. You shouldn’t be haggling over 25 cents (unless you really REALLY can’t afford it). I love yard sale hosts like you though cuz I hate asking for what things cost, only to be shocked when I hear the answer – and usually for the bad. Then it gets all awkward in there sometimes, I hate it… much better to see what the thing costs to make a decision in your head one way or the other before you start the haggling ;) Have fun at the Gypsy Caravan! Not sure what that is, but sounds fun!
    @Lance@MoneyLife&More – Haha, yup! Although sometimes their idea of a “bargain” is very much not one ;) I tried this 3 weeks ago and fell in love with 1/2 the stuff they were selling, but def. not the price… sometimes you DO get lucky though!
    @femmefrugality – YES!!!!!!! I WANT TO GO THERE!!!! :)

  12. Skint in the City May 28, 2012 at 6:39 AM

    Take your own bags too! They always run out and it’s not much fun trying to balance six items in your arms while you’re still on the hunt for more. One of those huge roomy Ikea bags with the shoulder straps always comes with me to garage sales – big enough to dump all my new treasures in while I keep looking.

  13. J. Money May 28, 2012 at 1:13 PM

    Oh yeah! That’s a great tip too – though usually I don’t get as lucky finding THAT many things at one place, haha… but I guess it’s great for hauling stuff at the end of the morning to your house too, eh? Good thinking :)

  14. jesse.anne.o May 28, 2012 at 4:35 PM

    I usually really enjoy hitting up yard sales but the list of things we still need for the apartment is down to “new only” (e.g. – shower curtain) and I am really at a perfect point with storage space so I don’t want to add any unneeded stuff.

    But – may the force be with YOU. Good luck!

  15. jesse.anne.o May 28, 2012 at 4:36 PM

    Uh, also, in all my years of yard-saling, I have never once run into a yard sale with a Hello Kitty mascot. I’m clearly not looking in the right places.

  16. Melissa@LittleHouseInTheValley May 28, 2012 at 9:08 PM

    I love garage sales and find the best deals at middle class neighborhoods. If you go to upscale, the sellers want too much for their items and aren’t willing to negotiate.

    Did you find anything good this weekend?

  17. J. Money May 29, 2012 at 11:40 AM

    @jesse.anne.o – Haha… if it makes you feel better, I haven’t either yet ;) Though I did once come across this 8 ft tall gorilla stuffed animal! Was pretty freaky looking!

    @Melissa@LittleHouseInTheValley – You’re right on that one! Though sometimes you can get lucky :)

    And I did! I found a handful of goodies this weekend, including a stack of awesome CDs, a new decanter for my pimp office, an oil painting for our bathroom (a cool flowery concoction), and a few other odds and ends… always a fun time :) Did you go out?

  18. George June 26, 2012 at 10:11 AM

    Weekend Yard Sale(ing) trips for my wife and I are and essential part of our money-saving plan.
    Since we’re 3 months pregnant we’ve saved soooo much on toys, clothes and other misc. items that I’ve lost count on the $ amount that we’ve saved. Great ideas from everyone!

  19. J. Money June 26, 2012 at 12:23 PM

    Heck yeah! We’ve been finding TONS of great stuff over these past weekends on baby stuff ourselves! Half the time that’s all there is at these sales – baby stuff! Haha.. glad you guys are nabbing some great deals too :) Congrats on the pregnancy!

  20. Advocate September 13, 2013 at 5:26 PM

    Do slightly different rules apply to charity yard sales? Nickel and diming to get the price down when it’s going to a non-profit group seems gauch. Supporters can also usually donate items for sale to these groups, or can hold multi family sales and donate some or all of proceeds to charity.

    1. J. Money September 16, 2013 at 11:24 AM

      I personally agree with you on that one, as long as they’re not ridiculously overpriced. If I know the money’s going to a charity, or perhaps a small business (like those cute kids who sell lemonade and cookies for $1.00 at them ;)) I’ll pay full price all day, every day. If it’s a straight up normal yard sale though, I’ll do my best to haggle but not to the point of ripping anyone off. At the end of the day you’re really not saving that much money anyways unless you’re picking up a car or something (true story – my mom once did!)