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14 Yard Sale Tips & Tricks for buyers

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14 Yard Sale Tips & Tricks

I love going to yard sales I have been going ever since I was little kid. I would remember waking up really early on a Saturday and spending the day going to yard sales with my family. You will find lots of great treasures at yard sales with every yard sale being different than the last. So with Yard Sale Season around the corner these 14 yard sale tips will help you become a better yard sale shopper and to help avoid making bad purchases.

1.) Finding Yard Sales

Finding Yard Sales can be hard for beginners you may find yourself driving around looking for the next Yard Sale sign. With the help of the internet many people not only put up signs for there yard sale but place ads in newspapers, websites such as kijiji and other free classified ads around the web. Make sure when you are driving around town you keep your eye out for signs especially keep a eye out for the board signs at churches in your area. Even check out your grocery store bulletin boards for yard sale signs.

2.) Creating A List

You always want to create a list of ads for yard sales you have found from either the internet or newspaper or signs you may have already seen. I will start by putting the address down and what time the yard sale goes from I will also make a note if its a church, community, Street Sale, multi person, single yard sale. The reason for this is the Church, Community and multi person yard sales are bigger. With that being said lets say on week there is lots of church, street sales, and community yard sales you are going to want to stick with those.  After you have accumulated your list of all the great sounding yard sales you want to check out. I then like to input all there address into Google maps starting with your address first. Then click get directions and then follow by entering each address. ( you will see a + mark to keep adding all the address). By doing this you will get a idea of where all the yard sales will be taking place near you. I then like to reorganize my list of yard sales to where they are located. By doing this you will save yourself time and gas, so you are not driving to one end and then back and then back to the other side of town. We like to do a circle, so we are no driving all around.

3.) Keeping Notes of Yard Sales:

I recommend setting up a spread sheet or calendar on the computer, or getting a note book to write in for upcoming yard sales. I have trained myself to keep my eyes open for upcoming yard sales. I am always checking kijji and newspapers and even when I am around in town. I make note of the date of the yard sale, there address and what type of yard sale it is ( Community, Church, single family, multi family etc.) You will even notice organization will hold a yard sale at or around the same time every year. (Last Saturday of August).

4.) The Night Before:

After you got your list ready of all the yard sales you want to go to. I recommend getting your cooler out, and everything else you might need before you go. Most people get up and go in the morning for yard sales and you don't want to waste time getting things ready in the morning. This also helps so you don't forget anything in the morning as well. The MOST IMPORTANT thing you can do is go to the bank and get change. When you are bargaining at a yard sale you always want to have exact change on you. This will help with your bargaining. You want to plan on having lots of twoonies, loonies, and five and ten dollar bills. You don't really want to have many twenties. You will also want to have a couple dollars in quarters to.

5.) Cardboard boxes and bags

Keeping a Cardboard box or tote bags in your car to hold your purchase will help keep them from rolling around and breaking. The last thing you want is to get home and find your treasure broken. Having this will also handy for carring your purchases in your house. Some sellers don't have bags, boxes or newspaper for you to use this is why I recommend bringing some with you for your breakables and just keep everything together.

6.) Things to bring when its time to go to yard sales

Being prepared for yard sales is a necessity. This will save you valuable time. Things I recommend bringing with you on your day out.

-list of yard sales

-pen (mark off the yard sales as you go)



-Small cooler with snacks and water

-Comfy shoes (I am not a fan of wearing sandals or flip flops when shopping at a yardsale.   Your feet will get wet if people have their yardsale set up on their lawn and it's a dewy morning.)


-GPS or local map

-plastic bags or boxes (great if you find lots of great deals)

-Measuring tape (for when you are looking at furniture or drapes etc.)

-Small screwdriver (great for checking the battery compartment of a toy or something your interested in). It really sucks to get something home and see that old batteries have corroded inside

-Supply of batteries (to check a product to see if it works)

- Hand sanitizer gel

- Old Newspapers

7.) When To Arrive at a yard sale

I like to arrive at a yard sale early with that being said I never show up until after the time they said they are starting. I know some people like to show up hours ahead of time. I myself know I hate when people show up early and I am still setting up for my yard sale. They try to rummage though your stuff before you even have it out. I have also found a lot of people holding yard sales are not organized well enough to handle early birds. I like to show up early this way you are not missing anything and that item you want can still be there. With that being said if the item you do want is over priced in your eyes and they aren't willing to negotiate with you I recommend asking them if you can come back later and if it is still there if they will sell it to you for a better price.   8.)Neighborhood profiling

I hate to say it but its true, you will find in nicer neighborhood's will generally have nicer stuff. With that being said it can come at a price to. Especially for the people who deiced they are going to throw a yard sale but have never even been to one themselves. Some people think that because they paid $50.00 for something that they will get $30-$40 for it. Also if you are generally looking for baby clothes, toys, you probably wont find this in a retirement community. With that being said don't be picky on where you go, because you never know what you may find and where.

8.) Don't be in a hurry

When you find yourself at truly great yard sale don't be in to much of a hurry to run off to the next yard sale. Especially when it is a bigger yard sale with lots of stuff and great prices.  Make sure you have thoroughly shopped it before leaving and even take a second look around. You will find you only come across a few really good yard sales on your list. So when you do come across a good one don't be in a hurry to rush of quickly to the next.

9.) Shopping for Clothes and Shoes

When Shopping for Clothes and shoes you can find some great deals at yard sales because often times they are priced cheap. Once we found a yard sale that had kids clothes for 0.50$ - $1.00 and another for buy a bag for $5.00 and fill it up. If you are at a yard sale that has a "fill a bag of clothes for $5" deal (or similar), you can get more clothes into a bag if you roll them up like a sausage rather than just stuffing them into the bag.

Adult sized clothes are harder to find and tougher to sell then kids clothes Where parents can put there kids into anything and they are always growing, where adults are pickier and need to find the exact size. When you are buying used clothing for kids don't rely only on the size listed on the tag. Keep in mind it has been washed many times and may have shrunk. You may want to consider bringing one of your kids shirt, pants to use as a guide to hold up to your potential purchase. When buying kids clothes also beware for stains and rips and tears.

When shopping for clothes it also helps to know your labels. This way if you see someone selling a shirt for $3.00 and its a Wal-Mart brand you know its not actually worth $3.00 and can probably negotiate it for a $1.00.

When looking at buying your kids shoes or sports shoes that they grow out of every season, I recommend keeping a tracing of their foot with you if your child isn't at the yard sale with you. Finding shoes that will fit your kids at yard sale with save you money so you don't always have to buy brand new ones at full price. I have found brand new shoes for my kids at yard sales before with tags still on and only paid a dollar or two for them.

10.) Buying toys for kids:

When buying for kids at yard sales you want to make sure of a few things. Make sure all the pieces are with it. They are in working order. If they take batteries open up the battery compartment to make sure the batteries inside have corroded. Make sure your kids don't play with the toys until you have cleaned them. I like to bring some Lysol disinfected wipes with me just in case our kids see a toy they have to play with after we purchased it. I also recommend any kids toys that open and store things you double check make sure there is nothing inside that shouldn't be there such as nails, thumbtacks etc.

Also note that sellers will sell kids toys that have been recalled at yard sales not knowing they have been recalled themselves. So be sure your not buying something that has been recalled and to check the data base often.

11.) After You Pay, Be Sure To Put Away

Every once in a while you may know the person having the yard sale or you are just happen to be having a nice conversation with the seller. In those cases you are buying something, make sure you have the seller's full attention to you when you are paying them. This has happened to us before. Especially once you have paid for something and decide to stick around after you have paid. The seller may come up to you because they forgot will say "excuse me did you pay for that?". So frustrating of course for you, This is why I recommend once you pay put the item in your car and go back to look and see what else you want or even chat.


There are many ways to haggle I have a couple that I suggest as you haggle more the easier it will become. Just remember the worst they can say is no.

For people who are afraid to ask for a lower price you can try this: The way it works is that you pick up an item and ask the seller: How much?  If they say a price you don't like, you make a face as if you just ate a lemon. Well maybe not that extreme. And set it down.  And then step a foot away or so.  The seller may then suggest a lower price.  Then pounce and get it!

If your not afraid to ask: Then Ask the seller how much and if they say $10.00 Try with $7.00 the seller will either say yes, no or will come down from there $10.00

When Buying Multiple Items: When you have 3 or more priced items (lets say comes to a total of $10) ask the seller how much for all of this? The seller will either say $10.00 or I have found they will come down a couple dollars. If they don't come down and they just say $10.00 try asking if they would do $7.00 or $8.00

13.) Purchasing Large Items

Often time if you have purchased a large item a yard sale such as a sofa, bookcase, desk etc. you may need to come back later with a truck. Before you leave the first time make sure you get a receipt if you paid in cash. I recommend to offer to write a check for the item, then in promise to exchange the check for cash when you come later to pick up your item. This way if for some reason your item was damaged or accidently sold while you were gone you can always cancel the check.

I also recommend when having to go back later in the day to pick up the item to always take a small piece with you before you leave the first time like a cushion, drawer, shelve etc. This will prevent other customers from offering the seller more money for what you paid for it. You don't want to get back to the house and have the item not there and the seller saying "sorry - here is your money back, someone offered me a higher price." Most sellers are reputable and wouldn't do that though but you never know.


14.) General Yard Sale Tips

-If you are sensitive to cigarette smoke or smell, take note if you happen to see if the seller has a pack of cigarettes and lighter nearby or is even smoking. There is a good chance that whatever you buy may smell like cigarette smoke

- Make sure you are buying what you think you are buying. Sometimes when people upgrade their stuff, they oftent put the old item in the new box. (such as a printer, scanner, fax machine etc.) So whenever you see a box be sure to open it and make sure you are buying what you think you are buying.

- Take off the price tags of your treasures as soon as possible. The longer a sticker stays on the item the harder it will to remove.

-When buying dishes or glassware, run your fingers over the edges. Your fingers will most likely catch any chips or nicks that your eyes can miss.

- When going to yard sales try wearing a fanny pack, This way you don't have to carry a handbag and you have both hands free to look over a item. You also don't have to worry about knocking something over with your handbag or putting it down. This will save you time when jumping out of your car to find a new treasure. The only bad thing about wearing a fanny pack is other buyers may confuse you with the person holding the yard sale and may come over to you offering you money.

- When making a purchase, carefully look over an item before you buy it. Most items are sold "as is".  If you get home and your purchase doesn't work or is missing a piece you are out of luck. If it is a electrical appliance as the seller if you can do a plug test to make sure it works.

-Be Creative when you browse yard sales, when you are looking at an item don't only look at it for its primary use, but look at its potential use. Some people will find a old wooden wagon and turn it into a outdoor planter.

-Be careful when digging through a box of used kitchen utensils - so you don't get cut by an old rusty knife

-If you are out at yard sales with small kids try to hold their purchases too. I have had my kids find something they really wanted and put it down for a split second to look at another toy to find that another kid grabbed it from them.

-Have your kids pay for their own purchases, Not only does it teach the kids the handling of money and learning the value of it and building confidence. It also helps with getting a discounted price from the seller because who wouldn't want to give a better price to a kid?

-Always double check, CD's, DVD's, Video games to make sure they are in the right case and there isn't any scratches.

-If you see an item that you may or may not want just pick it up anyhow and carry it around with you until you decide. Because if you don't by the time you decide you want it, Someone else has already decided and picked it up and purchased it. You will then be kicking yourself the rest of the day.

- Lastly, if you see an item you would like (but is priced too high and the seller won't negotiate), give the seller your name and telephone number and tell them you are interested if it doesn't sell by the end of the day and they are willing to come down on the price to give you a call. Often times they realize that it was over priced and will call you later that day or next.


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