Monday, June 30, 2008

Garage Sale Tips

I am posting some tips on garage sales inspired by a question I received from Mommy of Many.

I guess I need to figure out what I do wrong. When I go to yard sales, I rarely find anything WONDERFUL like that. Maybe I'm shopping in the wrong neighborhoods? Please share tips!

We are blessed to live in a town that has many nice neighborhoods. The median household income for our town is $105,000. What this means is that there are people who redecorate their homes as often as they change shoes. What it means for me is that I can buy their stuff for a great bargains. If you are looking for decorations for your home and name brand clothing go to the area of your town that has more expensive homes. They change out more often than us normal folks.

We go to garage sales every Saturday. One asset is to know the community street names and not have to spend time looking at a map or trying to find sales. We do look at the paper, but generally have a route we take where we just drive down the main streets and look for signs.

Have cash, preferably not all $20 bills.

It is important to be early to get the best stuff. People talk about going later to get better bargains. I think most prices are great to begin with so get it while you can. Don't show up really early, though and give them the impression you are stalking them. We leave at 6:45 for 7:00 sales.

If you walk up to a sale and see something you think you want, grab it while you continue to look and think. If you don't pick it up someone else will come in and get it before you. And, it is really ugly to push them and grab it out of their hand.

Don't spend too much time examining and wasting time. Scan the area while you walk up. My husband and I don't walk together, we seperate and try to cover the area quickly. Develop secret signs so you don't have to ask out loud about an item. You know, pull your ear if you like it, stick your finger down your throat if you don't. I am joking but if you can communicate without talking out loud it helps. We secretly hold up fingers for how much to offer or shake our head for no or yes.

If items are marked very reasonable I don't try to bargain. My two topiaries that I bought on Saturday were $80 each at Target. I know because I wanted them a couple of years ago, but wouldn't pay for them. So, to find them for $5 each I didn't try to bargain. I have lost things when you try to bargain and someone else is standing there and jumps in to offer full price and take it. The two Pottery Barn frames were priced at $2 a piece. I offered $3 for both. Know when to wheel and deal and when to just pay it. If a lot of people are around you stand the chance of losing the item. If you are purchasing a lot of things that come to $40, offer $35 for all of it.

Knowing the price of things in the store helps. It doesn't really matter what someone paid but I have seen things that I can get the same thing if I buy things at the store on clearance. Garage sale prices should be about 10% of the initial cost.
Some people are clueless and try to get retail sale prices- just leave, they think their stuff is precious and don't want to bargain. You are looking for people who are either needing to make money from the sale or just getting rid of stuff. I have found that "estate sale" means "we think our stuff is precious and you are going to have to pay to take Grandmaw's old dishes."

Sometimes it is worth paying extra or too much for a garage sale price. My daughter needed slim pants so you do not often find them. When I found her size I was willing to pay more than my normal price for them. Same with my son's pants. You don't often see size 29" waist with a 30" length, so I grab them if I find them. Another example would be a collectible or item that you normally would have to buy that is still cheaper at the inflated garage sale price.

Always be courteous and friendly. I see some people who take the attitude that the seller has junk and is asking too much. Of coarse, they really want the item and are just trying to get a deal. What they do is leave a bad taste in the seller's mouth and look like a jerk to everyone else. Instead, always say hello when you walk up. If you are pleasant and make nice small talk they are more willing to bargain with you because you are the nice person and made the job of sitting in the sun more enjoyable. But, know when to be quiet as you shop. Some people are extreme talkers and you can't get away. You should be able to comment as you walk and look, not have to wait for their 3 minute story.

Wear comforable shoes. In the spring I will start out with a light jacket that you take off later. I like to wear a simple tee so that I can slip on items and try them on. Take a snack and some water. It is a lot of work to walk up and down all those driveways.

Don't talk too loudly in the early morning. The neighbors are still asleep and it is nice to be considerate of them. Also, BIG PET PEEVE, don't pull off the road into people's grass! Stop at the curb. It is rude to drive up into their grass. In Florida we had sprinkler heads that could be broken.

Saturday, there was a sale off of a busy street with no where to park. We parked across the street off the side of the road.(No, not in someone's yard, it was the road without a home there) Two people pulled into the driveway. When we were leaving one of the cars was backing up. A lady pulled her truck into the end of the drive crossways blocking the two cars. She saw they had their back up lights on and yelled, "I will only be one minute." We went and got in our car and were amazed that she did that and she was way more than a minute. She looked like she could beat up your husband so no one said anything. Rude and disrespectable.

We have another pet peeve about garage sales... Signs. When I am driving down the street I don't have time to stop and read your sign with 3 lines of directions. One, it is too small to read and two, people are honking at me. Instead, draw a big arrow pointing the way and write "Garage sale" on it. At most, write 111 OverHere Street on it. Then at each intersection leave another sign until we get there. We will ride down the road getting more excited with each sign. Add a balloon and we know it is going to be good. But, really important, go take down the sign at the end of the day. Unless, next Saturday you would like me to knock on your door and wake you up at 7:00.

So, have fun finding all your bargains. Post some photos and let us see what cha got.


Connie said...

We love to share our little slice of God's beauty with everyone. Why hoard it for ourselves? If you get them gumption we would enjoy meeting you and yours!
My sister lives in Huntsville, so we are up there all of the time.
Have a great 4th!

Valarie said...

I loved this....

I have found that "estate sale" means "we think our stuff is precious and you are going to have to pay to take Grandmaw's old dishes."

This is so so true.

Rhoda @ Southern Hospitality said...

Oh, great tips! I'm such a yardsale queen too & love to get out there. I love your things you just found...great topiaries & great prices. We have wonderful yardsales here in B'ham too, so I'm used to that. I can't imagine living in a place where they are crappy.

Oh, thanks for letting me know about Pate Meadows..I had no idea they are from B'ham. Love those patterns!

PS You've got the dreaded letters on here, I see...LOL.


Rhoda @ Southern Hospitality said...

Oh, yes...I know all about Forsythe & Lewis fabrics & have shopped there for years. Great fabric stores, the best! I know a few more over there that are less price than those even. Grew up in Atl.


Anonymous said...

Love the tips. We're going to be crazy and do a yard sale this weekend. I would much rather try to shop them, but it's always fun to see who visits our sales to buy our stuff.

Wish us luck!
-- Brandi

jennifer said...

First of all, you are so blessed that your husband enjoys yard sales with you. REALLY!

Also, you make me want to find a really good yard sale, even though I have carted TONS of stuff out of my house.

OK. Now. Valarie has comment moderation. If you want to, give her your email address FOR ME, and ask her not to publish that comment. THEN, she can email it to me, and I can get in touch with you. All of this sounds NUTS, I know, but right now, I would prefer not to let my email address go public.

Valarie and I have talked about a fall meet and greet lunch. I can't do it right now - my husband would flitter - but I think it should be a go for fall. I don't mind driving up!

Be blessed.


mommyofmany said...

Thanks for the great post! Lots of great ideas! I'm sure my main problem is just figuring out where to go for the good yard sales. I'll have to ask around.

chelle's winks said...

Good tips...we follow these same rules....

Southerner said...

mommy of many- Rhoda at Southern Hospitality is a huge garage sale person. She is in BHam, I don't know what part but you could see if she has any ideas for good neighborhoods/areas closest to you.

Rhoda- if you see this please see if you can help out MOM.