Saturday, May 11

Garage Sales Tips Worth 'Brake-ing' For

Garage sale season is in full swing and I have been religiously hittin’ up the local sales on Friday mornings on the hunt for great deals. I do love the hunt and haggle a good Garage Sale brings. You too can find superb deals if you know what to expect and plan ahead. Here are a few tips on how I manage to get the awesome deals!

Look for forgotten items. That box of miscellaneous junk under the table, a shelf of unmarked items, or a few odds and ends that seem like an after-thought are going to be some of the best bargains at a yard sale. Why? In the rush to get everything tagged, many sale holders just don't know what to do with certain items. Items with price tags are those that they are hoping will bring in a profit. Those that aren't — they are just kind of there with no realistic expectations. Those orphaned items are your best bet for coming in well under market price. Go ahead and offer a low-ball price, or ask what they want. I guarantee you'll be surprised at the final price tag.
Always carry cash. Most garage sales only accept cash, so be sure to bring enough for your budget. Smaller bills and pocket change are helpful when it comes time to haggling. You just can't negotiate with a check.
Scan all sales, then circle back for competitive pricing. A quick drive up and down a major garage sale route will tell you which house has the 'goods'. It also gives you the chance of spotting the item you're looking for without getting out of the car. Driving around can also save you money. Your conversation could go something like this: "I see you have just the item I'm looking for. Since six other houses in the neighborhood are offering a similar item, however, I'd love to just buy it here and save myself the trouble. Can I offer you $5 to take it right now?" By giving the seller the impression that the item will have to be competitively priced to sell, they will most likely give you your asking price provided it is, indeed, fair.
Ask for exactly what you're looking for, even if you don't see it. If you're looking for something in particular and have no luck finding it, ask if they happen to have what it is you are looking for. One of three things will happen by coming out and asking directly:

  • It will save you time at each sale by not having to scour tables of 'junk' looking for, as well as, possibly saving money by the temptation of items you don't need.
  • You give the seller a chance to consider whether or not they might want to sell an item that is in the house and not out for sale.
  • If the seller doesn't have what you are looking for they may know of a neighbor, friend or even a thrift store that is selling such an item. If they do give you a tip on where to look, when you arrive be sure to let the seller know that you came in search of a great price on the item, and that their neighbor sent you their way. They will appreciate the business and might be willing to haggle on the price.
    Be dressed for the occasion. Wear comfortable clothes and shoes and do not be afraid or embarrassed to rummage through things. Trinkets, books, clothes and other smaller items often get thrown together, so you'll never know what's there if you don't sift through. The good AND cheap stuff always seems to be at the bottom of the box, so get in there and DIG!
    Bring dimensions and a retractable measuring tape. When looking for that certain something make sure to bring the dimensions of the space you plan to make it's home. Also any color swatches, surrounding paint or stain can be helpful. I keep an ongoing list and update it often. Now this tip may not sound like it is going to save you money but when you have purchased the wrong-sized end table 3 different times the fourth and perfect end table has ended up costing more than you realize. I detest wasting my money AND time!
    Download Garage Sale Tracker.  It’s an iPhone app that gives you the closest garage sales in your area along with the sales description and good clear directions on how to get there.  This is great for mapping out where you will go and what sales will be along the way, saving you money on gas.
    Leave your info. If you want something, and they are not willing to budge on the price, give them your information and ask them if they will call you if it doesn’t sell. I have gotten great deals with this method!  Chances are, if you think it is too high, so will others.  Once their garage sale is over, they may be willing to go rock bottom just to get this specific item out of their garage.

    My methods are by no means scientific… Or perfect.  It's what I have come to learn over the years and it works well for me. I do hope that you have found something here that might help you in your quest for that perfect something you are looking for. All in all, yard sales are a great reminder of how to negotiate in the real world.  So get out there, enjoy the hunt and practice a few skills at the next Garage Sale that comes your way...'ll be glad ya did!


    BTW: I just finished watching Garage Sale Wars. I loved everything about this new program on HGTV. You can find it in your cable listings, it airs on Friday nights here in the D/FW area!


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