Garage Sale Buying Tips
Now that the weather is warmer, yard and garage sales seem to be popping up like flowers. If you are a bargain hunter, garage sale season means that you’ll be able to find amazing prices on the things you want and need – if you’re careful.
While garage sale shopping can be a great way to save money, it can also be a great way to spend far more than you intended to; especially if you hop from one sale to the next. That is why taking the time to learn how to get the best yard sale bargains this summer is important for both your budget and your garage sale shopping habit. Here are some suggestions for how to keep garage sales from getting the best of you while still having a fantastic time.
Shop Early…or Late
Depending on what you’re looking for, the time of day you visit garage sales can make a huge difference. If you are looking for something super specific, shopping early will mean you have a far greater chance of finding the items you are hunting for. If, however, you’re only shopping to see what deals you can find, shopping later will mean you will have less to pick over and may be able to get far greater savings.
When people have garage sales, they are usually having them for one of two reasons. They are typically looking to clear out their house and/or make a little money. Many people don’t want to drag everything back in the house after the sale. When you show up fifteen minutes before the end of the day, you may be able to get a lot of items at a steep discount, just so that the owner doesn’t have to think about them any longer.
Shop with Specific Items in Mind
Garage sales are excellent for perusing and picking over things, but if you are looking to save as much money as possible, make sure that you go with a specific item or two in mind. If you aren’t focused on something specific, you are much more likely to buy things that you don’t need – and spend money that you don’t have.
To make it even easier for yourself, approach the owners of each sale right off the bat and ask if they are selling what you are looking for. That will save you from being tempted by all the other wares.
Don’t Be Afraid to Haggle
A large amount of yard sale shoppers are under the misconception that haggling is off limits at garage sales, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth! People who hold garage sales expect shoppers to haggle with them.
If something is priced for more than you would prefer to pay, don’t be afraid to ask the seller if they will accept a lower price. The worst that happens is that they say no. From there, you decide if you want it at that price or not. No harm done!
Don’t Be a Lowballer
With that said, don’t be the guy that constantly gives lowball offers when you haggle. If something is priced at $5, don’t ask the seller if they will take $1. That is a far larger gap in prices than any seller is going to be willing to accept – and frankly, it’s kind of rude. Lowball offers only serve to make the seller take an instant dislike to you and that makes them want to discount nothing.
Instead, keep your offers reasonable and you are more likely to get the deal you want. Even better, if you are buying three or four things that total an amount around $4.50, ask if you can have all of it for $4. When buying a few items, sellers are more likely to reduce the total price.
Keep Repairs in Mind
If you hit garage sales with electronics, furniture or any other big ticket items in mind, make certain that you check them over well before you buy them. It is totally within reason to ask the seller if you can plug something in or turn something on to make sure that it is working.
If there is anything wrong with the item, you’ll want to be sure that you take into account any costs of repair plus any material costs, as well as the cost of your time. Once you do, you’ll be able to decide if the item really is a good deal or not, and then barter lower if there are repairs to be done. Most sellers are reasonable and will work with you on price – especially if the item is not working correctly.
Don’t Be a Messy Shopper
There is nothing more annoying to someone who is hosting a garage sale than to have to clean up after a shopper. If you are looking to get deals, don’t go into someone’s sale and make a huge mess. This includes clothes, toys and books that are on tables as well as on the ground.
If your child is playing with an item, make sure that you put it back (as well as all of the pieces!) the same way you found it. If you are looking through sizes of clothing, make sure that you fold everything that you’ve unraveled. Being a messy shopper makes it harder to negotiate prices because you are leaving them with a lot to clean up. They won’t want to find a way to meet in the middle – they will likely ask for full price.
Leave Your Contact Information
Not everyone will be willing to haggle prices with you right away – particularly if you arrive at the sale early. That’s why it is always a good idea to leave some contact information with a seller if you really want an item. If a couch, piece of furniture or other specialty item doesn’t sell by the end of the day, the seller may be much more willing to reduce the price. That said, if they don’t have a way to contact you, you have no chance of getting the item.
Don’t Be Afraid to Walk Away
Finally, never be afraid to walk away. Remember, deals that you find at a garage sale will likely not change your world. If you and the seller can’t come to an agreement, better to let the deal go by the wayside than spend more than you intended for items that you may or may not need. This world is full of opportunities where you may have to pay more than you expected – don’t let a deal at a garage sale be one of them.
Garage sales can be huge fun for deal seekers and a great opportunity to find something unique. Just be sure to be smart. Be kind to the sellers, respect their space, see what you can find, and enjoy the day hunting for bargains.
Thinking about having your own garage sale? Be sure to decide what in your home is useful or complete clutter to make the most of your sale!