5 Tips for Finding the Best Summer Yard Sale Finds

by Jessica Sommerfield · 1 comment

Yard sale season is gearing up and before all you minimalists cringe, keep in mind that yard sales aren’t just for hoarders.

Garage sales hold tremendous savings potential for anyone who’s willing to take the time and effort to shop for items properly. With that in mind, here are a few tips I’ve learned and picked up from hard-core yard sale shoppers.

1. Come Prepared

There will always be that random sale you spot on your way home from work, but for the most part, plan ahead for your yard sale shopping in order to get the best deals and avoid regretted, un-refundable purchases.

  • Personally prepared with comfortable shoes, sunscreen, hand sanitizer, snacks and cold beverages, plenty of small change and bills, and a hands-free purse or wallet.
  • Technically prepared with GPS capability, spare batteries, a tape measure, basic tools, your own reusable shopping bags, newspaper for wrapping items, and cardboard boxes or totes for storing purchases in your vehicle.
  • Strategically prepared with addresses, an early start, a list of items you’re hoping to find, your family’s clothing sizes, and dimensions for spaces and furniture pieces in your home.

2. Shop Early and Reserve Items

Yard sales are typically advertised at least a week in advance via newspapers, community areas, with road signs, or on social media. If there are key, limited-quantity items, you’ll want to be the first to arrive and stake your claim to them.

Secondly, if you see an item you think you want but aren’t sure about yet, grab it and carry it around so no one else can snatch it up before you have a chance to make up your mind. In a yard sale, everything’s up for grabs unless it’s in your possession. If an item is too big to carry around, express your interest to the seller and have it set aside or labeled “reserved” for you.

3. Hit the Right Sales

Yard sales are hit and miss when it comes to finding treasures, which is part of the fun. If you’re shopping for the best prices, prioritize church and nonprofit fundraiser sales, since most of the items are donated, and pricing is more flexible.

If you’re looking for high quality items, pay attention to moving and estate sales. These types of events usually mean people will need to get rid of items for much less than they’re worth.

4. Browse Carefully

Most yard sale purchases are final, so be sure you’re buying what you think you’re buying, and that you really want it. It’s a good practice to bring along a cardboard cutout of your children’s foot sizes as well as a sample t-shirt or pair of pants to compare.

We all know clothing varies widely within one size, and multiple washings cause shrinking. It’s better to be cautious than to get home and find out that your steals were actually a waste of money.

Open all boxes, and test the items. You may need to ask the seller for permission first, but this will help you avoid purchasing old electronics placed in the new box when the owner replaced it. This especially applies to CDs and DVDs, which could mean the difference between a great action flick or a kids movie, or no movie.

Always test electronics and battery-operated items on site (which is where the batteries come in handy).

5. For Resale, Focus on Vintage

Baby boomers are clearing out their old junk, which often includes gems worth much more than the yard sale sticker price. For items you can re-sell, focus on vintage or retro.

If something is cheap and looks promising, take it home and submit a picture to valuemystuff.com. For $10 and 48 hours, they’ll tell you if it’s worth a whole lot more.

These are just a few handy tips you can use to turn a hoarding-hobby into a beneficial money-saving pastime.

What’s one of your summer yard sale money tips? How do you go about finding the best deal?

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{ read the comments below or add one }

  • Yard sale season is certainly upon us. Not only can you find great deals, but it can be a lot of fun too. One thing I always recommend is be prepared to haggle, but be reasonable about it. While asking if you can have an appropriately priced $10 item for $7 would be expected, asking to have it for $3 might come off a bit rude depending on the item…and that certainly won’t help you in the long run.

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