4 tips for finding the best bargains at yard sales

October 9, 2015

Who doesn't love a great bargain picked up from a yard sale? Especially when it cost next to nothing and is practically brand-new. Here are four tips that will help you snag some serious deals at yard sales this summer that others may completely overlook.

4 tips for finding the best bargains at yard sales

1. Plan your yard sale route

When your Friday newspaper arrives on your doorstep (or online) – with its classified section brimming with ads for yard sales – plan your route. You could also do a quick online search to see if anyone has posted details about a forthcoming yard sale.

  • Circle the ones that fall within pricier neighbourhoods, and use a map to list the order in which you'll hit each sale.
  • By carefully planning your route to all these sales, you'll cut down on wasted kilometres driving back and forth.
  • To really cut down on driving time, look for community sales in which dozens of households in a neighbourhood or subdivision are selling their items at the same time.

Although some people prefer to buy or sell items by using online sites, there's no guarantee that you'll get the merchandise as described (or pictured).

  • The advantage of a yard sale is that you'll see exactly what you're buying and from whom. Plus it's a chance to haggle about the price – just keep it friendly!

2. Equip yourself for yard sales

Finding great deals at yard sales depends on speed – so you can find the good items before other shoppers get to them – and a discerning eye that lets you pick out the quality merchandise from the junk you don't want.

Load up a fanny pack with the following tools so you can move quickly from sale to sale and pounce when you find a great deal:

Small bills and coins
Your debit and credit cards are no good in the yard sale world, and sellers may not want to take cheques either. You don't want to lose that beautiful lamp because you ran out of cash.

Tape measure
From curtains to couches and mirrors to mini-blinds, you need to know if certain items will fit in your home before you buy them.

  • Know what sizes you're looking for before you take off for the yard sales, and measure these sorts of objects at the sale before you purchase them.

Magnifying glass
Bring a small magnifying glass to quickly check for dents, loose threads and other imperfections before you shell out any cash.

3. To call it your own, take a piece home

Imagine you find a beautiful chest of drawers late in the day after you've spent most of your money on garage-sale bargains. Unfortunately, you don't have enough cash left to buy this new treasure.

You could always give the owner a few dollars as a deposit, but who's to say he or she won't go ahead and sell the chest of drawers to some other buyer who happens to have cash on the barrelhead? The strategy in this case?

  • Give the owner as much money as you can for a deposit on the item you want. Then, before leaving to get the rest of the money, take a drawer with you or some other part of the item.

No other shopper will be willing to buy the incomplete chest, so you're assured that it will be waiting for you when you return. If you use this strategy, ensure you return the same day (as promised) with the full balance owed.

4. Yard sale intel

Not every yard sale will reap the same kind of deals.

Moving sales
At a moving sale you'll find household items that are useful but that the soon-to-be-moving owner can't move or won't bother bringing – think plants, lawn mowers and cans of paint.

Estate sales
An estate sale is likely to showcase items from an older person who has passed away, such as antiques and vintage collectibles.

Divorce sales
The contents at a divorce sale will vary according to which member of the split-up couple is hosting the sale.

  • If the man is doing the selling, expect to find items such as appliances, dishes and women's clothing. If the woman is hosting the sale, look for sports memorabilia and power tools.

With these tips and tricks, you'll be sure to find some of the best deals while going to yard sales this summer. Now head out with your plan and enjoy the hunt!

The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
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