Who – What kind of shopper are you? There are many varieties in the yard sale world. If you aren’t having luck, you may need to change who you are as a shopper. If you don’t dig around, start trying. If you slowly look at everything and talk forever to the hosts, maybe you are taking too long and would find more if you perused quickly and moved on. I used to be really bad about being a drive by garage saler. You know…don’t stop unless something looks good from where I can see in the car. I have close to stopped doing that, you miss out if you don’t even get out and take a peek. I mean – it is ok to NOT buy something! I also rarely bargain at garage sales. I know some of my friends are shocked right now. Unless I feel like something is way overpriced, I buy a good amount of items or just really want something but it is more than I was hoping to spend…I pay what they are asking. This is not my MO in estate sales, flea markets or stores. When shopping from someone professional it is part of the game, from a homeowner it isn’t really necessary. Who to take…the kids??? I say a big YES on taking your kids. I give each one of my kids a dollar or two and turn them loose. They get to learn how to ask about pricing, paying and getting change. They have fun because they are in on the hunt too. With money to burn. Most of the time people are amazingly generous to kids. It is rare that the kids don’t come home with books or toys given to them by sweet sale hosts. Good family time that doesn’t break the bank.
What – what are you looking for? I find the best time to go looking is when I’m not really looking for anything in particular. My mind is more open and less focused. This leads to more interesting finds. However, I always have a wish list running in the back of my mind. Experience has shown me it is best to be patient when searching for decorating items. Even though you likely won’t spend a fortune, buyer’s remorse on any item is never good. Always have measurements with you if there is a particular item you are searching for, especially furniture. There is nothing worse than having to call your husband and ask him to measure a wall while people are staring you down to see if you are going to buy or not – so they can! Looking at things from the angle of what they could be verses what they currently are is a necessity. Almost anything can be painted, clothes cut up and re-sewn or made into something altogether different, pots and pans can become a canvas or maybe even storage. So whatever you are searching for, look at things differently on the open road than in a store. What are you willing to pay? I always have a price in mind when I approach an item BEFORE I look at the price tag. This either lets me know an item is not for me, right on or WOW what a great deal. It is all relative to your expectations but I have found this to be one of the best tricks I have to keep me in line while shopping. I’ve walked away from items and found them later for the price I wanted to pay.
When – When is the best time to go? Hands down if you can find Thursday sales you will have less shopping competition. It goes down from there. Friday is the next best, then Saturday. The closest you can arrive to start time is obviously the best to see what they have. Don’t be discouraged though if you can’t get there till later. I have found great stuff late in the day and people are typically cutting prices to get rid of stuff. The very best time to go is when you can go with a friend. It is so much more fun to junk as a team. You have an extra set of eyes and someone to bounce ideas off of. I also feel like it is safer and never recommend going to sales in remote places alone. You also want to go whenever you can. Be open to stopping when you are on your way somewhere. It doesn’t take 5 minutes to do a once over on a sale. I have found some of my favorite things when I wasn’t even planning on going! When to buy? NOW!!! there is no thinking it over and coming back if you want something. You snooze you loose. So don’t be hasty if you see something you want, but it NOW!
Where – Craigslist is an awesome place to look for sales in your area. Now some sales have pictures posted that can help you decide if it is an event you want to hit or not. The newspaper is the next best place. Lots of people still post their sale there. The best advice I have here is don’t judge a book by it’s cover. You might think sales in the nicest neighborhoods are the best place to go, but you would be wrong. They are not always best and depending on what your looking for can be completely wrong. I like old stuff. I usually find it in the older parts of town. Lots of sales I come across are completely unadvertised outside of a sign in the yard. They are some of the best. My suggestion here is to drive around some different neighborhoods than you are used to and see what’s shakin. Estate sales are typically lumped in with garage sales but they are two different beasts. I find estate sales to be more expensive, less flexible on pricing and more trafficked. They do tend to have more items. Just know the two are different and your preference may be different than mine.
Hope these few little tips help…let me know what you find!!! Be sure to read my friend Karen’s thoughts on garage sales here! If you are planning your own garage sale, read these tips to make sure your garage sale doesn’t stink!!!
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