If you are shopping at garage sales, chances are you really like a good deal. Spring and summer are the best times to get out and hunt the garage sales.
With my post Monday on getting things in gear for Back To School Shopping, this post comes at the perfect time! Garage sales by their nature present some great bargains on gently used backpacks, clothing and other household items. But you can do even better! Here are some tips for getting great deals at garage sales.
Be Friendly and Courteous
One of the fun things about yard sales is getting to know the seller(s) a bit. For most of them, this is their house and their stuff (and their garage!) Don’t speak negatively of any of the items (“That’s so ugly!” or “That’s so dirty – it needs a good cleaning.”). Instead, compliment the seller on his/her house, yard, and so forth. Striking up a conversation and being friendly may make the seller more inclined to give you an extra-good deal. It is also important if your children are coming along that they learn these basic tips of being courteous as well. How many times have our kids embarrassed us – yet, had we taken a moment to fill them in on our expectations it could have all been avoided?
Use Small Bills
This is not just to facilitate making change. Using small bills helps prevent you from looking like a rich person trying to get a deal. If you haggle with the seller to get an item down to, say, $1, and you hand the seller a $50 bill, it just doesn’t look good (plus, that’s a lot of change the seller has to muster!). It also makes transactions much quicker, which keeps you on your way.
Pile It Up
As you find items you like, ask the seller if you can set them in a certain area or place them in an empty box (you could also bring your own cardboard box). This can be a boon of a bargain – the seller may let the whole lot go for a great deal less than if you’d bought and priced each item individually. Make sure you offer a price for the entire amount that is reasonable, they just might take it!
Early versus Late
Many people will tell you that going early always scores the best deals. While it’s true that there may be more choice items early on, there may be super-good deals later when the sale is closing up. You’re likely to get good deals either way. Ideally, you could hit the same garage sales early and late. It’s perfectly acceptable to make two trips if you have the time!
Have a Plan
Just popping in your car on a Saturday morning and driving around looking for garage sales can be fun, but it isn’t a very efficient way to find good deals. Instead, look for signs that people put up toward the end of the week, look online, and look in the newspaper. Make a rough plan of where you’ll hit first. Pack a lunch if you like; that keeps you from having to shell out money at a restaurant, which would offset all your great savings.
Make an Offer
Don’t be bashful about making a reasonable offer (make sure it’s not insulting, like proposing $2 for a $35 item). This may come in particularly handy when the sale is about to end. Even if prices are set, it never hurts to ask. The worst the seller can say is no.
If you love a bargain and want some more great tips, check out Ms. Cheap’s Guide to Getting More for Less by Mary Hance. It is filled with ways to get good stuff on the cheap!
What is your best garage sale tip?