If you love bargain hunting and the outdoors, what could be better than going to a bunch of yard sales?! Autumn is a great time to find amazing deals on all kinds of garage-sale goodies.
The trick is to know when and where to go—and how to negotiate! Here are four strategies all yard-sale shoppers should know.
Have a plan of attack! Use apps like Yard Sale Treasure Map and Garage Sales by Map, which aggregate info from Gsalr.com, Oodle.com, YardSales.net, EstateSales.org, Craigslist, and other sites. These apps will help you create an itinerary. If you’re looking for higher-end items, you'll want to check pricier neighborhoods. And if you’re after antique furniture, clothing, and jewelry, plan to search in neighborhoods where families have lived for generations. Or look for “estate sale” ads. Also check the app’s websites—Yardsaletreasuremap.com and gsalr.com have info about community garage sales.
Time your visit right! The best stuff will probably be picked over after the first hour or so of the sale, which is when the professionals show up. Keep in mind that some sales start on Friday so you might want to show up before the weekend if you can. But if you're just there for the biggest bargains, arriving must before closing time can score you the best prices.
Prepare to negotiate. First, make sure you have downloaded the eBay and Amazon apps to your smartphone so you can do price checks. Then check for a price tag or ask the sellers what they want, and come up with an offer. You should always ask for a lower price—but be reasonable and nice so the seller wants to work with you. If you’re buying several things, gather them up and offer a bulk price. Sellers want to get rid of stuff and they’re often willing to slash the price if you’re buying a “collection” of stuff or multiple items.
Carry lots of cash! While some savvier sellers may take credit cards or accept payments via a cash app such as Venmo, cash is still king at yard sales. Stock up on small bills because sellers may have trouble making change and they'll appreciate cash—they might even be willing to knock off a buck or two if you're a little short on money. Holding the amount you want to pay in your hand when you negotiate is also a great way to tempt the seller. My husband once flashed a $100 bill in an antique store for a ring I wanted to buy and he was able to talk the seller down from $150. Nice!