Filed in Gather Money Essential by on June 9, 2010 0 Comments

Essential Yard Sale Tips – if you’re going to one

“One man’s garbage is another man’s anniversary present’ – Hal, Malcom in the Middle


The following is a brief, succinct guide to going to yard sales, from what to bring to how to deal.

Keep these items in the glove compartment or in a small milk carton in the trunk
• Tape Measure- It comes in handy to measure items such as furniture (will it fit through the door) and clothes.
• Sunscreen – The sun can be brutal on a long day of yard sailing
• Maps or a SmartPhone -One joy of yard sailing is going form place to place, like an explorer, but getting lost is a drag.
• Note Book – For the serious yard-sailer. Keeping notes on what areas seem good or
just something wanted.
• Batteries – It’s a good idea to bring some batteries if there is something specific
on your list & it requires batteries.

TIP: Never pay more than $1 for an item that needs batteries or electricity & it has not been tested.


Upscale areas
Check garbage night (boxes
Estate Sales

Local newspapers (some folks still don’t know about the internet)
Bulletin Boards in convenience stores
Look for signs in desirable neighborhoods

Look at any possible purchase with a keen eye. Look for worn areas frayed cords, possible damage.

Ask the good questions like “Does it work?”, “Know of any problems with it?”, “How old is it?”, etc.

Plug all electrical items in to be sure they work. If it doesn’t and the desire for it is still there, get a dramatic price reduction. Word of warning, if the yard sale location isn’t offering a plug to test something out, be especially leery.

On a similar vein, be sure an item is complete including instructions. If not, buy at your own risk, but be sure a good price is gotten just in case you’re stuck with a useless door stop. Oh yeah, don’t fall for the old, “It’s around someplace, come back next week
after I find it.”

Some items have manufacture dates on them, TVs and computer monitors
for example. Look for the date. If a sticker is missing, its old.

Here is an old sleazy yard sale trick, covering chips & cracks with price stickers. Be sure to look under all tags.


Don’t fall in love with anything.  It may be big and beautiful, but if there are getting rid of item, there’s a reason. look carefully and don’t rationalize, those black rings is water damage & difficult, if not expensive, to fix.

No yelling, “I’ve been searching for this chiffon robe for eons,” or
“I had this toy gun during the happiest moments of my life”. Any
bargaining chips or advantage is now lost.

Make tough choices. Is this something really needed or really desired?

Make sure the bones are good.  For example, a solid oak end table with no warping or cracking, it simply needs good old fashioned elbow grease to clean up & make it sparkle.

Don’t be shy, negotiate. Even if items are marked, ask the seller if they will accept less especially when buying several items. Most folks holding yard sales are cleaning attics, garages & basements. They will probably be heading down to the recycling center with it if they don’t sell.

If buying more than one item, ask for a group discount.

To get a good price, pick up an item not wanted. Ask the seller how much they want for it, or offer a lower price if marked. After the seller has responded or refused look disappointed and put back the item.Then pick up an item really wanted and once again. Usually the seller will lower their prices. It is a game, the seller wants to make a sale
and know you are willing to leave if the price isn’t right.

Best bargains are often near the end of a sale. Few people want to schlepp the stuff back into the garage, so dickering is cool. Obviously, selection is limited by previous sales, but if there is something desirable, go for that really excellent price.

If negotiating fails, leave your name and phone number. You never know. Or call the owner later that day. The item may not have sold and perhaps they’ll consider a reasonable offer.

In upscale neighborhoods, some yard sales will literally leave stuff on the curb for trash pick up or for someone to swing by and simply trash

Going to yard sales can be fun and frugal. Fun because it is and adventure of discovery and frugal because you can find some real scores
for the family or house.


Check out these other Yard Sale pages on the Frugal Yankee:

PODCAST: A Successful Yard Sale

PODCAST: How to Score

REPORT: How to Hold a Yard Sale

PODCAST: Yard Sale Tips How to Hold a Yard Sale

Please be sure to sign up for our newsletter!

About the Author ()

Leave a Reply