Top 10 Yard Sale Buying Tips

yard sale

I always know spring is here when I start seeing yard sale signs popping up all over the place. Yes, it’s officially yard sale season, and to celebrate, Anna and I jumped in Gypsy Girl first thing Saturday morning and hit the road. This was the first time out this year (yes, late for me!), and we had a great time. Before we’d hit the first sale, I was thinking about my top ten yard sale buying tips. So, since the season is here, I thought I’d share them with you.

  1. Mapping neighborhood sales and  figuring out which sale to go to first…there’s an app for that!!! I still have flashbacks of using a city map to plot out sales listed in the local newspaper. Oh, the good ole days, right? Uhm, no! If you have a smart phone, those days of plotting are over. My favorite app is Yard Sale Treasure Map, which shows local sales and lets you map which ones you want to go to. I will admit that there are times I head out and go from sign to sign, but most of the time I’m using my app.
  2. Be early, but not annoying. We’ve all seen the adds that say “No early birds.” Listen, I like getting to a sale early, but showing up and poking around at 7:00 when the sale starts at 8:00, and people are still getting ready and haven’t had nearly enough coffee? Well, don’t be that person. Just don’t.
  3. Bring a friend, a truck, a tape measure, rope, and small bills. Saturday mornings, when you’re getting ready to strike out, consider a couple things. First, if you finally find that 20-drawer dresser that you’ve been looking for, who will help you load it? And, how the heck are you going to get it home? And are you sure it’s going to fit the designated space? It’s strange how our perceptions of size and space become altered.  I’m fortunate that I have, my van, Gypsy Girl, as well as a husband and several friends who are always willing to join me for a morning of yard sale hopping; however, in the past, I’ve had to ask strangers for help loading pieces, and I’ve had to get pretty darn creative when it comes to getting some of them into my Honda. So, tape measure, friend, and truck.  And rope…seriously, you need to tie down your finds. It’s a sickening feeling to turn a corner and look in your rear view mirror only to see that piece you just bought, skittering out of the truck and onto the asphalt! The only thing worse is being the person in the vehicle behind you! And about those small bills. I know that ATMs spit out what are already being called Tubmans , but if you have a pocketful of 20s, imagine the following: You find a piece that is marked $5. You negotiate it down to $3, but then pull out a $20. Need I say more?
  4. Those who hesitate…well, you know the saying. Whenever I see something I want, if it’s a small item, I pick it up. If it’s a larger item, like a bureau, I will sometimes remove a drawer and carry it around. If you think you want something, pick it up! You can always change your mind later but not if someone beats you to it!
  5. Consider potential over primary use. If you’re anything like me, you’re constantly looking for new ways to use pieces. Before you walk away from that interesting piece that you keep going back to but don’t have a need for, consider the possibilities of what it can be.
  6. Check it out! I cannot tell you how many times I’ve bought a piece only to get it home and discover that it’s cracked or needs more repairs than I’m willing to make. Inspect joints, open drawers, and look underneath pieces. Is it real wood or laminate? Is it warped, cracked, or otherwise damaged? When buying dishes and glassware, gently run your finger over the rim. You’ll be happier for it when you get a piece home.
  7. Negotiate the price, sometimes. After years of going to yard sales, I know that most people are expecting to negotiate. I also know that they want to get rid of as much as possible, so, especially at the end of the day, most people are more than happy to negotiate. Now, having said that, there are times when I don’t negotiate the price. For example, this weekend I found a great piece for a ridiculously low price. I would have felt like a jerk asking the lady if she would take less. So, yes, if I feel that there is wiggle room on a price, I will negotiate, but if I know that I’m getting a great deal already, I don’t.
  8. Buy what you like. I know, it seems obvious, but the truth is, sometimes we’re tempted to buy something only because it’s a good deal. Don’t do it. Put that 1970s macramé plant hanger with the twenty-five cent sticker down, and walk away from the table! Trust me on this. Do get that old door that reminds you of your grandparents’ farmhouse though. Trust me on this too.
  9. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Again, the macramé plant hanger.
  10. Lastly, remember the golden rule: Be nice. Having a yard sale is A LOT OF HARD WORK! The least I can do is be courteous. I always say hello, I’ve helped load pieces (because someone forgot to bring their friend!!!), I’ve kept watch while someone ran to use the restroom, and I’ve disco danced at a wildly fun yard sale (the disco ball from that sale is hanging in my dining room!). I can’t begin to tell you how many lovely and interesting people I’ve met. So yes, be nice because good things can happen.

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