This post may contain affiliate links. If you buy thru these links, we may earn a commission at no additional cost to you.
Thrift stores and yard sales are 2 of my all-time favorite summer pastimes.
Who doesn’t love a bargain, right?
That’s one of the coolest things about yard sales is finding those really great bargains!
There is definitely an art to being a yard sale shopper and being able to spot the best garage sale deals.
Here are 14 ways to find the absolute best yard sale deals…
I enjoy stopping at as many sales in a day as possible and trying to keep an open mind about the things that I might need in the near future which I might be able to find at a sale for cheap. Some days there is nothing good to be found. Other days you find a ton of things that you can put to good use at some near time in your life. I outfitted my children for most of their younger years for very little money and some great garage sale finds. I also managed to keep my craft habit happy with the random treasures found on those early Friday and Saturday mornings. Source
#1 Plan your route.
You want to plan exactly which yard sales you’re going to shop at before you even get in your car.
While driving around looking for yard sales can be fun, it can also mean you don’t get the best bargains before the other yard salers do.
One of the best ways to plan your route is to use the Yard Sale Treasure Map. Just type in your address, how many miles away you’re willing to travel, and the day (Friday, Saturday or Sunday). Instantly, the map shows all of the yard sales in your area, along with the best route that would allow you to visit them all! (The yard sales listed are from Craigslist, but you can also add others to the route manually — like those you find listed in your local paper.)
There are 2 kinds of garage sales. There are the ones where people want to make money and the ones where people want to get rid of stuff. The object is to find the ones where people want to get rid of stuff. Source
The worst thing you can do as a bargain shopper is to spend more money than you initially wanted to on things that you’re never going to use.
Having a list means you only buy those things you truly want and will use. Be sure to make note of the sizes you need and the spaces where household items will go, and take along a tape measure!
Of course, there are always some exceptions. For example, items that you should always be on the lookout for at yard sales are:
- stainless steel bakeware
- commercial grade cookware
- dog items ( leashes, bowls, pet toys)
You can lose a lot of money shopping at yard sales, if you aren’t careful.
Knowing how much you can afford to spend (as well as what you want to buy) can make your yard sale shopping experience a positive one, rather than a regretful one.
You will undoubtedly see a lot of interesting and unique items. To avoid going broke, ask yourself, “Can I really use it? Where will it go the minute I arrive home? Will it fit in?”
Know right away how much you are willing to pay for a particular item. Stick to your guns and do not pay more.
And for goodness sake, don’t buy things just because they’re cheap or a good deal. That money can be better spent going toward items that you truly do need.
You will usually have better success at multi-family yard sales and those that are hosted by an organization (like a church, a neighborhood, or a charity) rather than at single-family garage sales.
Not only are there lots more items to choose from (which means you’ll be more likely to find what you are looking for), but by attending fewer larger yard sales you’ll be able to cut down on the number of sales you actually have to visit.
This is most helpful if you are strapped for time, cash, or gas.
If you’re visiting a community garage sale where there are several vendors in one location, start at the farthest point from the entrance. Why? Because most people start at the front. So if you’re not there early, most of the best sale deals will be picked over by the time you get there.
That old saying about the early bird getting the worm is true, so arrive early if you want the best sale deals!
Don’t wait until 11 a.m. to get out of the house and head to your first yard sale! While you might still find some good deals when getting a late start, you will definitely find more deals (and better deals) if you get an early start.
Every savvy yard sale shopper knows that the really good stuff can be gone within the first couple of hours. Since you won’t be able to be at all of the yard sales on your route early, you should pick one or two that you think will have the most of what you’re looking for and start there first!
Of course, you won’t be able to buy everything you see (and you might find the same item cheaper at another yard sale anyway), so take a picture of any items you spot early in the day that you might want to go back and revisit later. Keep a running list of yard sales that might be worth going back to later.
Never settle for the price that’s marked on an item. Instead, offer a little lower than that first. Odds are, they’ll come back with a price a little higher than your offer. If you want it, you should take it!
It’s amazing to me how some people are intimidated to ask the person running a yard sale to lower their price on something, or to haggle in order to get a pri
ce that is acceptable to both of you.
The worst thing that can happen is they say “No.” And if they do, then you just move on to the next yard sale where you may find exactly the same thing (or something similar… or even better!) at the price you are willing to pay.
Of course, if you see something you really want and you know that it’s priced right, then don’t hesitate or someone else might snatch it up!
Here are the rules for engaging a garage sale owner:
- Be prepared to walk away
- Always smile, and be pleasant
- Make eye contact
- Look confident, but not smug or demanding
If you will be buying several items from one person, ask for a package price. Your best bet is to offer something a little lower than you’re actually willing to pay for it. Chances are, they will settle for a price slightly higher than you ask for.
At the very least, take a couple bottles of water with you.
Your best bet is to take a cooler with cold drinks and munchies — so you can keep shopping without having to stop anywhere other than the yard sales on your route.
Some yardsalers take a complete garage sale kit along with them!
This makes things much easier when it comes to paying for stuff.
Most yard sale hosts aren’t going to have the ability to charge your credit or debit card, so make sure that you have enough cash on hand for all of the sale deals you’re going to find.
Likewise, since yard sale hosts may not have a lot of change on hand, it’s best if you start with plenty of one dollar bills and quarters. This will also come in handy since many items are priced 25-cents and 50-cents apiece.
Finally, take your checkbook along and ask if you can pay by check whenever you buy larger items. Many yard sale hosts would prefer to make the sale rather than let you walk away simply because you don’t have enough cash for a higher-priced item. Some will accept checks on a case by case basis.
Your best bet when shopping at yard sales is to keep your money (and car keys, etc) in a hands-free bag like a fanny pack. You’ll keep your money safe and still have both hands available to lift up items and examine them closely.
In addition, take shopping bags to hold all of the items you buy. Your own sturdy tote that hangs over your arm is easier to shop with than the thin, plastic store bags that yard sale hosts usually give out.
Worse yet, many don’t have bags at all — so be sure to take your own!
It’s going to be much easier to shop if young children aren’t by your side asking you to buy every toy and book they see.
Unless your kids are exceptionally good at looking and not touching, then it’s best to leave them at home when you’re yard sale shopping.
There’s nothing worse than wearing a pair of shoes that pinch (or binding clothing when it’s hot) when you’re going from sale to sale.
So, wear clothing that is loose and comfortable, and a pair of comfy shoes — because you’ll be doing a lot of walking. Don’t wear sandals or flip flops because your feet will get wet if people have their yard sale set up on their lawn and it’s a dewy morning
If you feel comfortable before to begin with, then you will have a much more enjoyable yard sale shopping experience!
There’s nothing worse than your car being filled up with Happy Meal boxes, ice skates from last winter, and other miscellaneous items when you’re trying score the best sale deals and find a way to get everything back home in one piece.
If you’ve ever had to leave a really good yard sale find behind because you didn’t have room in your car, then you know what I mean!
A little TLC can go a long way. You may be able to turn other peoples’ junk into some beautiful works of art or home decor.
Sometimes the seller just doesn’t want to take the time to bring the item back to its original glory. Other times, you might see ways that an item can serve another purpose than it was originally intended. For example, an old weathered window frame could become a beautiful photo frame, or maybe it could be used to frame an inexpensive mirror.
So just use your imagination and think outside the box to see what others might not see in the items that you come across at yard sales.
No, these aren’t given to everyone you meet!
You hand them out to yard sale hosts who are selling items that you would love to have, but not at the price the items are currently marked — and you’ve already tried haggling (asking for a lower price).
Simply hand the yard sale host your card and ask her to give you a call in the event that the item doesn’t sell and she’s willing to sell it for X amount. That way, it’s a win-win for both of you. You get the item at an affordable price based on your own budget, and she gets rid of the item after all!
More Tips For Finding Great Yard Sale Deals
In addition to the links provided above, these are the best resources if you want even more ways to find great yard sale deals:
- Best Tips For Finding Garage & Yard Sale Bargains
- Yard Sale Tips For Finding The Best Deals
- 14 Tips To Help You Find Great Deals At Garage Sales
- All My Best Yard Sale Tips For The Highest Profits
- How To Get The Best Deals At Garage Sales
- Popular Mechanics: How To Find The Best Tools & Gadgets At Yard Sales
My favorite things to write about are topics that have to do with pregnancy, weddings, saving money, living green, and life with dogs. When I’m not writing, I love to spend time with my husband, read, create 3D artwork and Native American beadwork.