Yard sale like a pro
Williamsport Sun-Gazette | June 19, 2015
By ERICA MOTTER
‘Tis the season–yard sale season, that is!
Each year when the summer rolls in, people start rolling out tables and blankets on their lawns to sell unwanted possessions for cheap.
Yard sales are probably considered low-class places to purchase clothes and accessories, but that reputation is pretty unfair. A yard sale is really sort of charming–hearkening back to the idea of town marketplaces, with people selling directly to others.
On a good day, you can end up finding some fantastic treasures while hunting–as long as you’re up to the challenge!
There are definitely some guidelines to keep in mind, though, which can help make your yard sale shopping experience much better.
A risk you take when deciding to go out to yard sales is that, on any given day, the offerings are really a crapshoot.
Sometimes, you’ll stumble across a sale by someone who just happens to be your size and is getting rid of a closetful of unwanted clothing. Other days, you can go from sale to sale without encountering anything that appeals to you.
For this reason, it’s always a good idea to bring some friends or family members along with you to yard sales.
At best, you’ll have someone to share the excitement of cool finds with you. At worst, you’ll at least have someone to talk to and laugh with at some of the bizarre things you’ll surely see while out.
Don’t be afraid to haggle
A true benefit of buying items directly from an owner is that prices are generally negotiable.
Most of the time, people who have yard sales don’t know the precise value of what they’re selling. They just want to get rid of the clutter in their houses and pick up some extra cash for it in the meantime.
Oftentimes, the seller’s asking price and your desired price for an item will be different. But luckily, it’s perfectly acceptable to offer a lower price for an item.
Most people actually enjoy the “thrill” of haggling, and some intentionally set their prices a bit higher, expecting others to make lower offers. So don’t be shy–the worst a seller can do is tell you no!
If you really have your heart set on a too-highly-priced item but the seller won’t budge, a last-ditch effort is to return later that day. When people are about to close up shop, they’re more likely to accept a lower price rather than not sell an item at all!
Have a plan
While it’s possible to drive around and stumble upon brightly-colored “YARD SALE” signs, or to spot a backyard full of things, you should develop a general game plan before leaving.
Many people advertise yard sales in classified ads, on bulletin boards, or on Craigslist, and often include lists of the types of items they’ll be selling.
It’s a smart idea to pick up a newspaper or search for yard sale advertisements before you go. This can help you pinpoint geographic areas with lots of sales, or create a route that lets you visit several in a day.
Lots of small towns also have “community” yard sale days, during which many families have yard sales at the same time. These events can be a great way to spend the whole day visiting sales that are all within walking distance of each other!
Keep an open mind
Unlike stores, in which items are organized and the selection is somewhat predictable, yard sales can be disorganized or full of off-the-wall items.
It’s not a good idea to go to yard sales with a very specific goal–for example, if you want to find shoes in a certain style and color, your chances of finding what you’re looking for can be slim.
Instead, it’s more useful to look for general things, like “clothes,” “jewelry” or “curtains,” and be open to what you might find while you’re out.
Sometimes, it’s even more fun to go to yard sales with no goals or expectations at all–these can be times when you discover the most interesting items.
No matter what you choose to do–happy hunting!
And, as a final word, bring hand sanitizer and a lot of $1 bills. Trust me, you’ll thank yourself.