Have you ever spent a Saturday morning going to yard sales? Here are some tips for making the most of your yard sale shopping spree.
• Don’t forget the cash: Yard sales are not like a quick trip to the convenience store. You will need more than just your keys, cellphone and credit card. You will need coins, money in small denominations and an open mind in order to take home the best from a yard sale. Don’t force a yard sale seller to break a 100-dollar bill; it could be the end of your negotiations to get a bargain.
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• Don’t get up early:
I have made it a lifelong rule that there is no good reason, other than a house fire, to get up before 8 a.m. Plain and simple, don’t get up at the crack of dawn to try to beat everyone to a yard sale. You won’t miss a thing.
• Shop at lunch: You can get the best prices around lunchtime as most yard sale hosts are ready to call it quits.
By noon, sellers are exhausted. They have been up since the crack of dawn putting out stuff for the yard sale and the morning is the busiest time for them. By lunch time, they don’t care what you pay for that Wedgewood cachet pot as long as you take it with you. It is a great time to negotiate or even get extra stuff for free.
• Don’t buy a damaged item: Condition is a key to value. If you pick up a completely tattered linen from a yard sale thinking that it is some great 19th-century quilt made by a group of Amish seamstresses, you are probably paying hard earned money for the same rag that you’d let your husband use to wax the car. Just because it’s someone else’s tattered piece doesn’t make it a wonderful antique.
• Don’t buy parts: I always say that buying parts is for auto mechanics, not yard sale shoppers. Don’t buy incomplete sets or games with missing pieces at yard sales. Buy objects with all of their original parts and their original boxes whenever possible.
• Don’t sell everything: Some things aren’t supposed to be sold on the front lawn. Don’t sell original art, jewelry, solid wood furniture or precious metals at yard sales. These objects need a strong market to reap their true value. There are not enough people shopping at a local yard sale to attract high prices that these objects deserve. Yard sales are not the place where you will get big bucks for your heirlooms.
• Tag it: Some
things should be tagged and some things — such as oversized items — should be left untagged to leave room to negotiate with a potential buyer. Some people like to have a $1 table or a $5 table at their yard sale, but this opens up the temptation for some buyers to get a bargain price just by moving an item from a higher priced table onto a lower-priced table.
• Don’t let it go until you know what it’s worth: Most hosts don’t bother to find out what their objects are worth before they schlep them from the attic or basement out to the front lawn. Do your homework and enjoy yard sale season.