Yard sale season is in full swing. For those
of you who want to save money on your family's
expenses, yard sale shopping is a great way
to find gently-used clothes, toys and household
items for pennies on the dollar. Following
are some tips for making your yard sale shopping
trip as fun, efficient, and profitable.
If you don't subscribe to the newspaper,
buy or borrow one the day before your
shopping trip. Or, if your local newspaper
lists all garage sale ads online, save
yourself a little money and get the
yard sale listings there. Just make
sure that the paper's online listing
is complete. Some newspapers charge
advertisers extra to have their ads
posted online. A quick call to the newspaper's
advertising department can confirm if
the newspaper's website contains all
the yard sale ads or not.
On the day of your shopping trip, you
want to be spending most of your time
actually finding bargains, not driving
all over town. Before you leave home,
use the classified ads and a map to
locate areas that have the most sales.
To save time and gas, concentrate on
focusing on the sales in those areas.
Once you know the general area to which
you are headed, take some time to map
out your exact route. A map-making computer
program such as Rand McNally's StreetFinder
comes in very handy for this. Or simply
use a city map or Yahoo Maps online
to locate sales and get directions.
Your yard sale shopping experience
will be more pleasant if you-and any
family members who go with you-are comfortable.
Make sure everyone wears weather-appropriate
clothing and comfortable shoes. Sunscreen
and hats are also helpful if your crew
will be out in the sun for long periods.
Don't forget to make sure everyone hits
the bathroom before you leave the house!
To keep you and your young yard sale
shoppers' hunger and thirst at bay,
take along a small cooler with easy-to-handle
snacks and drinks. Of course you could
stop for fast-food when stomachs start
to growl, but doing so would take time
away from bargain-hunting.
Rather than carrying your purse, you
may want to carry your money and any
essentials in a fannypack or small change
purse you can put in your pocket. This
leaves your hands free to inspect the
merchandise and also frees you from
worrying that your purse being stolen.
You can't judge a book by its cover,
and you can't judge a yard sale by your
first impressions, either. You never
know what kinds of bargains lurk in
the seller's garage. Sometimes you find
the best deals at the sales that are
least organized because the sellers
just want to get rid of their stuff.
If your kids shop with you, save yourself
potential hassles by making sure they
each have their own money to spend.
Give them a pre-determined amount to
spend before you leave the house, or
have them bring their allowance money.
This saves you from being the bad guy
when the kids ask for things you don't
want to buy. Many times they will decide
they don't want the items badly enough
to spend their own money.
Negotiating is the name of the game.
Most sellers are willing to deal as
long as you are fair with them. Asking
the seller to take $2 for an item marked
$20 is pushing your luck. The seller
may be more than willing to sell the
item for $15 or even $10, depending
how late in the day it is. Remember
too that yard sales provide an excellent
opportunity to teach children about
negotiating. For the young or shy shopper,
you may have to help out a bit by saying
something like, "My son wondered
if you'd take $1.00 for this game."
Eventually your child will learn to
make these requests on his own.
Going to yard sales early in the day
(as soon as the sales open) has the
advantage of getting the best selection.
If you are looking for a big-ticket
item such as furniture or electronics,
you'll probably have to go early. Going
later in the day has its advantages,
too. Sometimes sellers are willing to
practically give their stuff away rather
than have to pack it up and carry it
back in their homes.
Be sure to carry lots of change and
small bills. Of course it is the seller's
responsibility to have change, but wiping
out the seller's entire change supply
with a $20 for a $1 sale is inconsiderate.
Save your change throughout the week
to use for your Saturday yard sale trip.
If your time for shopping is short,
you may want to concentrate only on
one-day sales. If a sale runs on both
Friday and Saturday, there is usually
little left by the time Saturday rolls
around. To get the biggest return on
your time investment, visit the one-day
sales first; then if you have extra
time, you can stop by any sales that
have been running for two days.
If you try to negotiate with the seller
on a large item but the seller won't
budge, leave your name and phone number
along with the price you are willing
to pay. Tell the proprietor to give
you a call if the item doesn't sell
and she decides she accept your offer.