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10 Tips for Negotiating at Yard Sales

Negotiating at Yard Sales doesn’t have to be an intimidating process! Let me teach you how I go about it!

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.

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


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