Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Master the Art of Yard Sale Shopping: 5 Tips for the Best Finds and Prices

I love yard sales, and not just because the vintage hunting is good! You can find necessary household supplies and tools for far less than retail price, and more importantly, make valuable connections and friends in your neighborhood.  

These are my Top 5 Tips for yard sale hunting that will help you yield the best finds for the best prices. Leave your own tips in the comments!

1. A Quick Stop Never Hurts...

Your spouse is about the punch me in the face for instigating this, but oh well, let me get you in trouble and suggest you pull in for a quick look anytime you see a Yard Sale sign! Just don't buy everything in sight and make it quick so your spouse and/or kids don't mangle you.

2.  Search Yard Sale Keywords Ahead of Time.

Search for Yard Sales on Craigslist and in your newspaper. When you search on Craigslist you can hunt for keywords like "mid century modern", "mod", "furniture", and "estate sale" to find a sale that suits your needs. Bonus: Yard Sale Treasure Map is a nifty tool that will hunt for the sales near you and help you plot an itinerary too!

3. Don't Be Afraid to Negotiate for Good Deals.

Haggle! Many people host yard sales because they desperately need to unclutter, they want that stuff gone!  Engage with the seller and be polite and you'll usually encounter little resistance. Don't insult their prices if they won't go down. There's always the next sale.

4. Network and Make Friends.

This beautiful Mod Hunting post from last week happened because I met Becca of The Vintage South at her yard sale. The finds above were purchased from someone who once owned a vintage shop here in town. I have her number and we'll definitely be exchanging tips and merchandise soon!

5. Pay attention to the area.

Historic areas are good places to hunt for yard sales rather than fresh new subdivisions if you want vintage finds. Watch trends and think of what the people living in the area would have to offer at their sales before you hunt.

As a busy person, hosting and attending yard sales gives me an opportunity to meet my neighbors. I love peeking into their lives via what they have on display on their lawns. I enjoy it when they provide a glimpse of my city's history. One of my favorite yard sale finds is a vintage Jacksonville, Florida poster. It's a look into my city's past and I couldn't have found it anywhere else but in my historic riverside neighborhood.

I even discovered what lies within a famously quirky neighbor's house because of a local magazine I found at a yard sale!

Have Fun for Better Finds: Enjoy the hunt and have fun while yard sale hopping and you'll yield better finds and prices! A positive attitude shows, it makes people want to give you better deals! What are your yard sale hunting tips?
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  1. i always stop, my husband hates it!! but you just never know...

    another fun place to go treasure hunting is on craigslist. I like using littlewants.com to search. that way I can still get my shopping fix when it's raining and the yard sales are closed!

  2. My tip is to open boxes, bins, tins, baskets. Anything that is covered, open it up because you never know what is inside. It might say one thing on the outside but it is just a storage container.
    Sometimes you hear people say they feel weird about opening a box. The person that is selling, wants to sell their stuff, they just don't know how to display it or have enough room to display it.
    Look into everything.

    Thanks for the tips. Can't wait till spring and sales start again. Way to cold in ND to have garage sales now.

  3. Sarah: Thank you for sharing the littlewants.com link, pretty nifty!

  4. Karen: Yep, you're right. Look in every box and container when hunting! Sellers will never complain when you dig in, they WANT to sell the wares.

  5. These tips are priceless. I can't wait to have my car again so I can go yard sale hunting.

  6. Man I could have used those tips this weekend, I missed that sale you went too. Looks like it was pretty awesome! I would have snatched up several pair of those rhinestone cat eye glasses.

  7. I have to admit that I rarely stop at yard sales, the ones around me always seem to be people unloading all their kids clothes and toys and very little cool vintage stuff. I will definitely try looking in some of the historic neighborhoods, because not only are those house old, but also expensive, so they might have AWESOME stuff!

  8. great tips. My tip - be respectful.
    Just had a yard sale this weekend and I always deal with customers - except this time I had about 3 people that went thru and made a mess!! Looked at folded clothes then actually threw them on the ground because it wasn't anything they wanted, complained that we weren't selling anything good, shifted items from one container to another in hopes of getting a better deal (it was new yarn @ $.50 a skein as opposed to bagged yarn that were not full skeins at $.50 for the bag of 4). Told them nicely - sorry, no deals, prices as marked and fixed the yarn in front of them.

    Still made over $300 on items that were mainly $1 or less so others thought we had good stuff :)

    We donate to a non-profit thrift store - they are closed on Sun & Mon but Tuesday all the leftover yard sale stuff comes in - what a bargain treasure trove.

  9. Don't be afraid to bend down to look for stuff set on the ground. Also, even if your unsure if you are going to buy an item just hold it and carry it with you. You can think about the purchase and look for other things. I don't know how many times I've simply turned my head only to realize the item in front of me was snatched during the seconds it took for me to decide if I wanted to buy it or not.

  10. Becca: There'll always be more sales next weekend :)

    Chelsea: Yep, that's the idea. Older houses can mean older stuff within...

  11. Bellen: I definitely agree, every time you host a sale you have to be prepared for rudeness. I choose to be amused by it rather than annoyed :)

    Jay: Yep, that will happen. Perhaps bringing a market cart of shopping bag so you can pile up finds would be ideal...though I've never done that myself at a yard sale! ;)

  12. These are all such great tips...the ones in the comments too. Thanks. I've been inspired to do some huntimg :)

  13. Go early for awesome finds, go late for awesome deals.

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