Ok friends, so I am curious…how many of us get excited when yard sale season arrives?
Does your heart beat a little faster, as you lean forward and squint a bit, scanning the
bright green yard sale signs you pass by?
Have you been saving for it perhaps, or noting which weekends you are heading out early to
scope out the best finds?
Or maybe you like to live on the edge and only stop when you drive by a sale, and you have a
few extra minutes.
Over the years (I just did the math it’s been over 25 sheesh!)
I have bought a few things I regretted, but had a whole lot of fun in the meantime.
It has been the way, along with thrifting, that this mama has been able to make ends
meet at times. Especially when it was just my daughter and I years ago (who now has a
little peanut of her own) scouring the local sales for jeans in good condition, books,
home decor, and treasures we couldn’t live without was always, and still is such an
adventure for us.
So as veteran yard sale-ers, Mandy and I put our heads together and came up with
exactly how we do it, and are sharing our guerrilla tactics to save you time and money.
How to identify a crummy sale.
This can be tough to tell right away. When there are two of us, the passenger will look
closely at the “come see how awesome our stuff is” items that people usually place close
to the entrance of their yard sale. If these items look really run down, and beyond even
the loving hand of a DIY-fanatic, it will probably not alter your future to just keep going.
I also consider a crummy sale not just really worn-out stuff but way over-priced items too.
I understand that everyone works hard to put together a sale, but we have to be realistic
about pricing. I like to use a 10% or less rule. What this means is, if an item is in very good
condition, say a nice pair of kids jeans that are brand name, they should cost no more more
than 10% or less of the original price. If they are second hand jeans with a $5 sticker, they need
to be in great condition and be some seriously nice jeans. This can vary a bit when it comes
to furniture and appliances which hold their value longer than clothes, housewares, books,
If a sale seems like a dud, keep going. There are more waiting for you!
How to avoid wasting time.
I like to shop a sale that is good twice.
The first one is a once over that helps me decide if they have anything I am looking for.
The next is the deeper dig and search if I can tell they have kids clothes in the sizes I need,
nice home items or furniture that is priced well, and overall reasonable prices and order to the sale.
And the big time saver is my next tip…
How do you get organized ahead of time for a stellar yard sale day?
Planning, planning, planning.
Before the fabulous internet, I used our local newspaper, plotting out
our route early that morning as I drank my coffee.
Taking into consideration the location of each sale, when it opens, and
if it’s in one of my favorite areas to look, I create a numbered system
usually beginning closest to my home, at 8am.
This same method can still be used, but utilize online selling groups
in Facebook, yard sale ads on Craigslist, and your local paper’s online
classifieds to create the same list. And you don’t have to wait until
the last minute either since many families will begin to advertise their sale
earlier in the week (hint if you are holding a sale, do this!)
Wear comfortable clothes and shoes, eat a good breakfast, bring water,
and make sure you have a good supply of small bills and change. If you
are bringing your kids, this can be a great way for them to learn about
budgeting, and spending. I remember my younger sister was so good
at bartering she would haggle a seller down to their rock bottom
price even if she wasn’t going to purchase an item. To be fair she was
only 9, but her guerrilla tactics were impressive at a young age!
The Speed Scan.
I mentioned this briefly above, but sometimes a sale is held in a back yard
or you just cannot tell if there is anything you will be interested in from the
road. Here are a few ways to tell if a sale is not for you. You are looking for
housewares and baby clothes. You approach a sale that looks like it’s all
antique furniture and collectibles. Move on friend.
You are searching for furniture to upcycle and DIY. You arrive at a sale
that has the items being sold displayed (and priced) like a boutique.
This is not a yard sale, it’s an outdoor retail store. Run, quickly and
head to the next yard sale. There are probably no thrifty finds
here for you.
Rock your yard sale season
Keep a list handy on your smart phone of what you are looking for.
This might sound silly, but it helps as the year goes on to take stock
of what is on your “to look for” list, and what sizes/quantities of items
you are looking for.
For instance, I am always on the lookout for kids clothes in great
condition. I need a good supply for my 8 year old son, who has some
clothes from friends, but most we look for. My four year old son
wears some things I find, but 90% of his awesome wardrobe is stuff
his big brother wore a few years before. All great brands, good quality,
and in excellent condition. Sorted by size and ready for him as he
grows. And I am always on the lookout for girls clothes as well since
Abbie, our youngest, doesn’t have an older sibling to receive clothes
from in great shape. Her older sister is 22!
Have fun, don’t be afraid to negotiate a price, most folks holding a yard
sale expect this. You greatly reduce your chances of coming across
a seller who is unwilling to negotiate if you follow the steps above.
You are basically looking for like-minded people who would like to
purge their stuff and make a few bucks too.
Here are a few rules of thumb that have never failed us:
- Give it a wiggle-wobbly furniture will probably cost a lot to repair
- If you can smell something being sold, this is not a good sign
- Books that are .25 cents are priced that way for a reason (thanks Mandy!)
- Don’t buy something that you will have to spend a lot to repair, or take to a tailor
- Don’t buy something just because it’s a good deal
- Enjoy the process, it’s so much fun, affordable, and you never know what you may find
Well, these are my tips and strategies to yard sale like a boss this summer, what are some
of your favorite tips and ideas to score the deals of the year? I would love to hear them!!