10 Tips for Negotiating at Yard Sales

10 Tips for Negotiating at Yard Sales by She Holds Dearly

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By now you have probably know how much I love thrifting! The kids and I have been shopping yard sales like it was a profession for the last ten years and, consequently, now own almost exclusively thrifted decor, clothes, etc.  I figure we easily save $7,000 a year on household items due to working the yard sales all summer long.

Note: All the photos in this post feature items that I have found at yard sales.

One of the things you get good at when you are out there is the art of negotiation. Negotiating is not a normal part of shopping in our society and a lot of people are really intimidated by it. Hopefully, this post will help alleviate some anxiety.  I can finally say I am used to it and actually enjoy it so much that my husband will call me in to negotiate prices in awkward situations.

10 Tips for Negotiating at Yard Sales by She Holds Dearly

10 Tips for Negotiating at Yard Sales

1) Choose the right sale.

Even before you step out of the car, start scanning the goods. I do a quick once over of everything  in case there is some steamer trunk or something that I need to lay down on top of to make sure no one else takes it. Just kidding, I’ve never done that. But, I might!!

2) Evaluate the seller.

Now, when I do my quick scan I am looking for anything super amazing that jumps out at me.  I can usually get a feel for how the seller is pricing things, too. Sometimes things are just too high and I move on to the next sale.

So, I am looking, but I also start listening. If I hear the seller say, “I paid $100 for that! So, I think $90 is a fair price”, I know that they are in a retail mind set. Things probably aren’t going to go well if I want to negotiate. But, if I hear another buyer offer a lower price and the seller is laid back about it, then I am probably at a good sale.

10 Tips for Negotiating at Yard Sales

3) Start your stash.

Once, I have a good feel for what kind of sale I am at, I start the scanning all over again. And I always go through the FREE box! This time, though, I go more slowly, opening boxes, turning things over, looking at everything.

I start “my pile” usually on the seller’s check out table, this gives the seller hope that I will buy some things and reserves the items I am interested in.

4) Know what you are willing to pay before you open your mouth!

This may come as a shock, but my standard price is going to be 90% off retail. Yup, you heard that right. Hardback books and clothes are even less, I try for $1 each on these.

There is one exception and its kids. When I see sweet little kids trying so hard to sell treats, I always want to encourage them. One time a little guy was selling snow cones, his booth was awesome and at the end he actually handed us a homemade punch card!! I told him he was destined to become a great entrepreneur one day. We still talk about “the snow cone kid.”

So, sometimes I will pay $2.00 for clothes and $4.00 for brownies. Kind of defeats the purpose of saving money, but its not always about the money.

The important thing to remember is that YOU have to decide what the item is worth to YOU, not what the seller thinks it is worth. Be prepared to stand by the price you decided on.

10 Tips for Negotiating at Yard Sales by She Holds Dearly

5) There is power in numbers. 

Group items and offer a lower price, say something like “$2 each, hmmm, what if I buy two? Can I get them both for $3?”

But, don’t let the seller group things for you! If you weren’t wanting to buy something then it wasn’t a good deal! It was a waste of money and now you have to get rid of someone else’s junk.

10 Tips for Negotiating at Yard Sales by She Holds Dearly

6) Always, Always, Always be kind!

Be sweet from the get go. I wanted to put this tip first because it deserves it, but I was also trying to put them in chronological order.

Don’t criticize their stuff to get them to lower their price, it just makes people defensive and frustrated. Don’t low ball more than 50% on their price, if you can’t do that because they are so overpriced, then I would just move on.

Be gentle, this a person you are dealing with. People are valuable. Laugh, be honest and agreeable. Be genuine.

Keep everything super relaxed. No one likes to feel pressured! If they hesitate when you ask for a lower price, say “Its Ok if you don’t want to.” It seems counter intuitive, but I think it helps them relax and it reminds you that life will go on if this doesn’t work out.

10 Tips for Negotiating at Yard Sales by She Holds Dearly

7) Try to pay full price for several things. 

Only negotiate on a couple of high ticket items. After you have willingly offered to pay full price for things you have established some rapport and can ask for a discount on something else.

8) Pose it as a question, not a statement.

“I have a question about. . .”  “Would your be willing to take x amount for this?” Not “I will give you three dollars for this.”

Sometimes the seller won’t have any prices, this is good.  Ask ” Would you take $3 for this?” Not “How much is this?”

Also, do your negotiating all in one conversation. It is obnoxious to have someone keep popping up and trying to low ball yet another item.

10 Tips for Negotiating at Yard Sales by She Holds Dearly

9) Know when to call it quits. 

Its ok to walk away. I do it all the time. Stand by your original price or very close to it.

10) Wait on it.

When in doubt, you know, those “maybe” items? Say you need to think about it, then come back later and low ball a little to justify it for yourself if you want to.  A lot of times, though, I calm down and decide I really want it anyway.

Also, take their name and number and call them a week later. I did this on beautiful piece of butcher block counter, brand new, too! It retailed for $200 and I was able to call her later and get it for $40. It is going to go in our laundry room makeover.

10 Tips for Negotiating at Yard Sales by She Holds Dearly

Did I miss anything? I’d love to hear your tips and tricks in the comments, as well!

You may enjoy the posts in this series.

5 Secrets to Shopping Yard Sales

What to Pack When Shopping Yard Sales

How to Yard Sale with Children

Sharing at these parties.





  1. Tanya Hulbert
    July 20, 2016 / 1:05 PM

    This was super helpful. I’m excited to put it into practice. I aslo have been enjoying garage saling for years. It would be in my top five favorite things to do!

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      July 22, 2016 / 10:03 AM

      You are one of the pros, Tanya! Hope you get to go this weekend and get lots of great deals!

  2. July 20, 2016 / 6:51 PM

    Thanks for the tips. Very helpful. Now I’m ready to conquer my next yard sale.

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      July 22, 2016 / 10:04 AM

      Oh good!! I’m so excited for you.;)

  3. Pamela
    July 20, 2016 / 7:42 PM

    Thanks for all the great tips! ????

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      July 22, 2016 / 10:04 AM

      You bet, Pamela! Have fun out there!

  4. JaneEllen
    July 21, 2016 / 9:24 PM

    It’s all in the attitude as much as what you’ll pay. As you said if somebody wants too much it’s not worth trying to get them down on price . Happy for you getting butcher block top at great price. Sometimes when I go to yard sale I can tell what kind of mood seller is in. If they’re too anxious I figure they’re needing money now badly, try to be fair as can . I watch for little bit to see how seller deals with buyers, if they’re rude or impatient I leave.
    Haven’t really been to too many yard sales here but attitude of seller means as much to me as prices. Thanks for great tips.
    Happy weekend

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      July 22, 2016 / 10:06 AM

      I totally agree with you, the seller can make or break the deal.

  5. August 1, 2016 / 6:17 AM

    These are great tips!! Yardsaling can be so intimidating to people, but it is seriously one of my favorite things to do! Your tips make it totally accessible to everyone! Thank you for linking up with Dream. Create. Inspire. Link! Pinning and Sharing!


    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      August 4, 2016 / 9:08 AM

      Cat, you are a girl after my own heart! That must be why I love your blog so much.

  6. July 8, 2017 / 12:17 PM

    Ha! These are great tips! My husband and I are terrible negotiators at yard sales! On more than one occasion the seller has actually approached us and OFFERED a lower price because it was clear we didn’t want to pay the asking price and neither of us wanted to negotiate! LOL! I almost always pay the asking price. When I spot the item, I determine in my head how much I’d be willing to pay for it. Then I look at the tag, if the price is the same or lower than the one in my head- I just buy it. This happened at a consignment shop once. I saw what I thought were two chairs. I determined I was willing to pay $20 for the pair. When I inquired about the price–it turned out there were actually 3 chairs and they wanted $15. I was screaming in my head, “Don’t act shocked! Don’t act shocked!” I got them!

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      July 25, 2017 / 7:05 PM

      Oh my goodness! That is so funny, well, I’m glad those prices ended up working in your favor.:)

  7. Lea
    June 4, 2018 / 11:57 AM

    This is great. My oldest son has no shame at negotiating, but he is very kind about it. He’ll offer 50% or less of what they’re asking and at least half of the time gets it! So I of course love taking him. But now that he’s almost 16, I have a hard time with him being available to go with me. So gotta grow up and learn to do it myself, thanks for the tips! And kids…I’ll pay a lot to reward entrepreneurship!!!

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      June 5, 2018 / 11:04 PM

      Haha, your son sounds amazing!! So fun, thanks for sharing, Lea. Good luck this summer, you can do it!

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