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5 Secrets to Shopping Yard Sales

Are you a fan of shopping yard sales? I can’t wait to let you in on my 5 favorite secrets.

I am the driver who slams on her brakes and gives everyone in the car whiplash because I caught sight of a garage sale sign out of the corner of my eye. Yeah, sorry about that. There are so many things to love about yard saling: being outdoors, the thrill of the hunt, meeting new people and best of all the prices! But, getting the good prices isn’t always so easy, there are some things to know. I have discovered 5 secrets to shopping yard sales over the years that I hope will be helpful to you.

I have friends that hate garage saling, they never find anything good, they say.

Well, this post is for you, honey!

Here are my 5 Secrets to Shopping Yard Sales

Note- I use the terms “garage sale” and “yard sale” interchangeably in this post.

5 Secrets to Shopping Yard Sales by She Holds Dearly

1. Timing 

I have tried every method out there and I really think there are two good times to be out. In my part of the country people don’t really get started on their yard sales until 9am. I have found that shopping from 9- Noon on Fridays and Saturdays are the best. It is likely that you will fill your whole car with good things within this time frame, after noon it is really hit and miss, so I don’t waste my time. Figure out when the sales start in your neighborhood. Plan to be there when they open and work your way through the sales for about three hours.

5 Secrets to Shopping Yard Sales by She Holds Dearly

2. Appearance

 Ok, now I don’t want you to be manipulative or anything. But, I do want to say that now would be a good time to not worry if your car or your hair needs to be washed.  Just get out of bed, pull on some comfy clothes, skip the make up and pull your hair back in a pony tail. You are probably going to get really dirty while you are out and, unfortunately, if you look like a million bucks, people will charge you accordingly.

One time, I was all decked out and stopped at a garage sale. Our family was in dire straights financially at the time and I could only shop yard sales. I asked what the price of a shirt was. The lady took one look at me and said, “Well, since you clearly shop at Nordstrom, these will be $10 each.”  What she didn’t know was that my entire outfit from head to toe cost me a total of five dollars. I learned that day that appearances really do matter when thrifting.

5 Secrets to Shopping Yard Sales by She Holds Dearly

3. Location 

I have tried repeatedly to study Craigslist the night before and map out my route for the next day. The truth is, even with a good ad, the sales are hit and miss and I spend so much time driving that I miss really good sales along the way.

The best method for me has been to make a big loop around my area, maybe a 3 mile radius and just check for signs on street corners. Be careful, because some people leave their old signs up and waste your time leading you to sales that were over three weeks ago.

Nicer neighborhoods are generally better and have a naturally higher turnover rate on their possessions.

Steer clear of rural areas. Sorry, folks, the country has other redeeming qualities, but long drives and worn out items aren’t what we are going for when garage saling.

If you find a good community sale, ask them if they do this annually and then mark your calendar! I have about five that I go to every year and they are amazing.

5 Secrets to Shopping Yard Sales by She Holds Dearly

4. List

I keep a list in my wallet of the things I am looking for and add to it all year long. Every morning, while I am preparing to head out yard saling, I take a few minutes to review my list.

Yes, there is room for some impulsive buying out there, absolutely, but this is a race, my friend. Time is of the essence and knowing what you need is going to help you keep moving onto the next sale. You have three hours and a lot of other smarty pants shoppers are out there shopping as fast as they can, too.

5 Secrets to Shopping Yard Sales by She Holds Dearly

5. Friends 

I am big fan of networking when it comes to yard saling. There are about five of us girls in my circle of friends that are die hards out there.

We send each other our lists some time in June and keep our eyes open while we are out shopping. We buy lots of things for each other, too, after we have verified a picture of the item.

 The only time I leave my regular neighborhood loop is when I get a text from one of my other garage sale friends with a picture, an address and a “GET OVER HERE NOW!!!!” message.

5 Secrets to Shopping Yard Sales by She Holds Dearly

Over the next few weeks I will be covering what to pack when yard saling, including what is on my shopping list and how to shop with small children.

Then, finally, I will cover how to know what a good price is and how to barter effectively.

Happy Hunting!

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