Archive for the ‘Yard Sale Tips and Commentary’ Category

I came across this article from Reader’s Digest about Things You Should Never Buy at Yard Sales:

Reader’s Digest Yard Sale Article

Some of the items I agree with: carseats, car tires, Laptops/computers

Some of the items I disagree with. We’ve gotten some bike helmets that are in excellent condition (never used, even). We’ve gotten swimming suits and shoes for our kids. And, we always buy cheap DVD’s at yard sales.

What would I stay away from at a yard sale? Underwear (duh ;), VHS tapes (I can’t believe people still use them), electronics (unless they plug them in for me and I can test them), worn out clothing, etc. . .Pretty obvious stuff. I did buy our crib second-hand w/ my first child, but I don’t think they had so many regulations then (10 years ago). That’s just the list off the top of my head.

What will you NOT buy at a yard sale?

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Last week was the first real “yard sale week” around here. DH and I went to a 40 family sale where we found this NEW IN BOX Radio Flyer steel wagon which we bought for $10:

Radio Flyer Steel Wagon

We also found this Kettler pedal go-cart for $5:

Kettler Pedal Go Kart

Now, getting ready for this weekend, a few people have asked me where I find the yard sales I shop at. Well, first I look on Craigslist (our local Craigslist). I search under “garage sales” using the words “multi-family”, “development”, “community”, and “neighborhood”. I prefer neighborhood sales to single-family sales. I then narrow it down by location. I also search our online local paper as well. Hope that is helpful as you hunt for deals this weekend and this summer!

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I am so excited for yard sale season to begin. It is only a few weeks away now, and I am already imagining the bargains I will find.  Yard sales bring the same fun to me that some people get from going to the mall.

Why shop at yard sales (in case you are not a yard sale addict like myself)?

1. You save money. Seriously. You can’t beat beautiful artwork for $2 a picture, a $2 coffee-table book (with gorgeous portraits), lots of name-brand clothing for children for next-to-nothing (see picture below of my daughter in a Lucky shirt and Janie and Jack skirt). I bought this outfit for $1.00  at a yard sale last year!

Lucky Shirt and Skirt from Yard Sale

2. It is a way of “recycling”. If you are big on “reusing, renewing, and recycling”, you ought to be shopping at yard sales. You are purchasing items that many sellers would otherwise throw away!

3. It is fun. . .like treasure hunting. Yes, some yard sales are really only junk, but some have fabulous treasures to be discovered.

Anyway, those are just a few of the reasons you ought to try yard-sale shopping. You just never know what is waiting at the yard sale for you to discover. I will be posting some of my own yard sale finds each week throughout the yard sale season! Hope you join me.

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This is the continuation of my first post on the topic of having a successful yard sale. Hopefully, if you are planning a yard sale soon, these ideas/suggestions will be of help to you.

1. Price everything. As a yard sale shopper, almost nothing annoys me more than having to “ask” for a price. I like to know what the price is in advance. You can get stick-on price tags at Dollar Tree. Also, for clothing, you can put a sign up “$1.00 per item” or something similar. I would recommend setting your “asking” prices slightly higher than what you really want for something, so shoppers can “haggle” down.

2. Set up and Open on Time. Shoppers like to come to a yard sale where the sellers are set-up and ready to go. Be prepared for early yard-salers.

3. Have a plan for inclement weather. Set a rain-date in advance.

4. Have lots of plastic grocery bags on hand to bag purchases. Also, make sure to have plenty of newspapers in order to “wrap” fragile items.

5. ALWAYS keep your money in a safe spot. Do not “man” the yard sale alone. Some people prefer to keep the money on their person (a money belt), while others use a money box. Never leave it unattended.

6. Watch the buyers. People steal. It’s unfortunate, but true. Have someone watching your items, the money, and the buyers at all times.

7. Get your children involved.  Have them help sell their toys, their outgrown clothing, or cookies and lemonade. There are lots of “real-life” skills they can practice—counting money, making change, earning their own money, etc.

8. Reduce prices towards the “end” of the sale to move your items. Most people don’t want to haul unsold items back into their homes. Decide if you want to donate what is left (and where), and make plans on how to do this.

Yard Sale Sign

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I have an android phone, so the other day I searched the Google Play store to see what free Yard Sale Android Apps were available. Disclosure: I did not download any of them, or try any of them yet. I did read about the apps (and the reviews posted by users).

I found the following free yard sale Android Apps to be the most potentially helpful:

1. Yard Sale Treasure Map— “quickly find the garage sales near you! You can search day by day, view detailed sale info, get directions to each sale, and plot sales from other sources to keep you organized.”  This was rated 4.2 stars and some of the comments were: “awesome app”, “so much easier to do my treasure hunting with this new application”, and “the best yard and garage sale program ever”. I think, if I download one of the apps, this might be the first one I try!

2.Garage Sale Rover Free— “Locate local garage sales, yard sales, tag sales, and estate sales on a map. We have created what some consider to be the ultimate garage sale locator and map tool.” Also rated 4.2 stars. Reviews say, “I have found this app very useful — There are more listings than my local paper” and “has saved me a lot of time and gas when physical signs are inadequate or confusing”.

3.Shpock— Somewhat different type of app. “With shpock you’ll find the most beautiful things in your neighborhood and sell your things quickly to people around you.” I would also be curious to give this app a try when I have time. Rated, again 4.2 stars. . .Reviews: “Already bought a few things and am happy with the way the transactions work” and “I could browse stuff on Shpock all day!” Please post in the comment section if you have tried this yard sale app–it seems like more of a marketplace for buying and selling.

Given that more people are accessing the web through cell phones than ever before, yard sale apps are not going anywhere. In fact, new ones will probably be developed all the time. Please feel free to post your favorites below. If you have an Iphone, what yard sale apps do you find useful?


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Since getting married, we have had two yard sales of our own. I do not enjoy having yard sales. I enjoy the extra cash, but I find having a yard sale to be very time-consuming. I would rather sell on Craigslist or Ebay where the profit is higher.

However, since I have been asked, I will give some tips on how to prepare for and have a successful yard sale:

1. Advertise in advance. I find the local papers in this area to be very high cost for advertising. Where we lived before, it was only $10 for a 3-day-yard sale ad. If the prices are high, consider going in with another family or as part of your neighborhood’s sale. Craigslist and facebook are other great advertising venues (free!).

2. Spring or fall sales tend to be the most highly attended. Summer is hot, sticky, and people are on vacation. Spring and fall have more tolerable weather conditions, and many more people are out yard-sale shopping.

3. Choose what day/days and times are best—base this on research. Where we lived for the first years of our marriage, almost every household was two-income due to very low salaries. To have a Friday yard sale would not be the best choice because traffic would be limited. Where we live now, it is middle-to-upper class, with a lot of stay-at-home moms and retirees. Many people do Friday to Saturday yard sales and report large amounts of traffic on Fridays. Do your own research and decide accordingly. For myself, I have never found it profitable to run a yard sale after 1:00 pm, but have found that the earlier you open, the better!

4. Gather needed items—extra tables (borrow from friends), price tags (these can be bought at the Dollar Store), BRIGHT and many yard sale signs (buy or make), chairs, extra change, cash box, etc.

yard sale sign

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As a yard sale buyer myself, I am sure I do things that annoy people. I probably annoy sellers when I ask for lower prices. I do think that it never hurts to ask. However, some yard sale buyers have particularly irritating habits. . here are a couple:

1. Buyers who grab things out of your pile or your hand. You pick up a shirt that you think might be cute for your child, and the rude buyer snatches it out of your hand and says “I saw it first” or gives no excuse at all for such behavior. Or, the buyer says “that was in my pile” when it obviously was not. Clearly, this buyer cannot stand for someone else to get a good deal, and wants everything “nice” for him/herself. This type of buyer also tends to hog the entire table or box. . .it is almost useless to try to look at a yard sale with this buyer.

2. Buyers who do not buy, but steal. I see this way too often, and it’s almost impossible to bring it to the attention of the seller in time, particularly if the seller is busy with another customer. It’s unfortunate that someone would go to the effort of shoving an extra $1.00 item into their bag, but it happens frequently. If you are hosting a yard sale, I recommend you never “man” the sale alone, but always have a few people to help you, so you don’t have things stolen.

3. Buyers who keep arguing with a seller. The buyer offers a lower price, the seller counter offers. These buyers do not accept, but continue to argue loudly. I have heard some of them go on and on for ten minutes or more, trying to get a lower price. Now, do not get me wrong, I am a fan of offering less, but at some point, continuing to argue loudly with a seller becomes harassment.

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Although I love going to yard sales, there are certain things that annoy me to no end about some sellers and other yard-sale-goers. I preface this with the fact that I am probably just as annoying to them, particularly the sellers, as I often ask for a lower price on an item I am buying. This post will focus on yard sale SELLER annoyances.

Things that particularly annoy me about sellers:

1. Items not priced. I see something I like/want, and pick it up, searching for a price tag. There is none. There is no sign on the table. I ask the seller who inevitably says, “I wasn’t sure. I don’t know. What do you want to give me for it?” I just hate that. What am I supposed to say? What do I *WANT* to give you for it? Really? Well, maybe fifty cents, but you probably want more than that. Do I lowball and get rejected, or do I keep trying to them to name a price?

To answer my own question, most of the time, given this dilemma, I say, “I don’t know.” I look at them with a somewhat concerned look, and eventually they name a price. If they look like they don’t care what they get, I name a low price and take my chances.

2. Items that are WAY, WAY over-priced. I like items to be priced, but on the other hand, some sellers think that a yard sale is ebay. In fact, I have been to yard sales where they literally printed out a sheet that proved that whatever they were selling was worth $10 more on Amazon or Ebay (new of course), so that knocking $10 off their well-worn item was actually a good deal. “See, this toy cost me $50 on Amazon new, and at $40 it’s a great deal. No, the lights don’t work anymore, but remember, it would cost you $50 on Amazon.”

In these cases, I don’t buy anything. It’s hopeless. If someone really thinks their items are that valuable, why even bother. They might want to actually try ebay, where they probably still won’t get as much as they think their items are worth.

Sellers, seriously, this is a YARD SALE. People don’t expect to spend ebay prices. They go to yard sales expecting YARD SALE prices. If you want a huge amount for something, take the time to take pictures, upload them, edit them, and create an ebay listing for your item.

What’s almost worse is when the items are something really bad, like completely outdated clothing, and they want $10 for a pair of pants or something. Seriously?!? Who on earth do they think will buy them?

So, those are two of my “annoyances” about yard sale sellers. Don’t worry, my post about buyers is coming sometime soon.

As a side tip, I have learned that when guys are manning the yard sale you make out better. The wives are typically more attached to the items (i.e. “I remember my little darling in that dress. I want at least $10.00 for it. I paid $25.”), whereas the man will be like, “sure, take it for $1.00. I want the stuff out of the house.”

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