5 Garage Sale Shopping Strategies

Garage Sale Shopping Strategies

The days are getting warmer, which means folks are cleaning out their garages and it's about time for yard sale season to begin!   I get so excited when I have a free morning to hit up some garage sales – they're just chock full of fun deals and treasures.
So often you can snag an inexpensive piece of furniture that's seen better days – and turn it into JUST the thing to complete a nook in your home. (Like these fun end tables that were just perfect for our guest bedroom update!)

But before you head out to treasure hunt – you may want to brush up on these 5 Garage Sale Shopping Strategies.




1. Plan Your Route

Before you even hop in the car – find out when and where the yard sales are taking place.  Enlist the help of Craigslist or (my favorite) Garage Sale Finder – which will allow you to view and print a map of allll the garage sales going on in your area.  It even has them sorted by colored flags to tell you if it's a single family, estate sale or neighborhood yard sale!  (Don't you love that??)
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Once you have your yard sale map in hand – save gas and time by planning a route through town that hits all the sales first.  Focus on neighborhood and multi-family yard sales for the biggest selection.  Choose church rummage sales and group charity sales for the cheapest goods.  For single family yard sales, you might want to keep in mind that nicer neighborhoods may have nicer stuff to offer.



2. Shop Very Early – or Very Late

This is pretty much common sensebut to find the real gems before they get snatched up – get to the yard sale right as they open!  On the other hand – arriving close to the end of the yard sale is great strategy too.  The folks who are hosting it are usually ready to call it a day by that point and you can get great deals on anything they don't want to pack away for next year!  (I can totally relate – I'm just ready to give everything away come noon on the second day . . . )



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Photo credit ~ get your free Yard Sale Pricing Guide over HERE

3. Be Ready to Haggle

Haggling at yard sales is pretty much expected, so don't feel weird asking for a deal.   (Especially haggle for big ticket items, which are often priced a little high specifically to give shoppers an opportunity to talk them down a little.)   Also, know what prices to expect – take a look at this guide for a starting point on pricing.  Here are a few strategies for getting those prices down:
  • Start by being friendly.  It's so much easier to haggle when you strike up a bit of a rapport from the moment you walk up the driveway.  No need for lots of conversation – just ask how they're doing, comment that they've got nice weather for a sale, etc….
  • Bring small bills –  that way if you're able to talk a $7 item down to $5, you won't offend them by brandishing a crisp $20 😉
  • Ask how much an item costs –  if the answer seems too high, let it show on your face as you put the item down.  The seller will often notice and try again with a lower asking price.  (It seems so simple – but this really works 50% of the time!)
  • Group things together.  If you've found several items – ask the seller if they'll accept a certain amount for your whole pile.  Let's say you found 5 shirts marked at $2 each – just ask “Would you do all five for $8?” or something along those lines.
  • Walk away if you need to.  When the going gets tough – it's okay to just walk away.  If the price is too high, it's too high!  Actually seeing you walk away will sometimes prompt the seller to reconsider his stance.
  • Leave your number.  If you've got your eye on a pricier item that the seller won't budge on – here's one last chance tip.  Scribble down your name and number and let them know that at the end of the day, if they still are looking to sell it, you'll be happy to take it off their hands for “x” amount.




4. Keep an Open Mind

While browsing through other people's castoffs, try to think outside the box.  Look beyond ugly paint or upholstery fabric (those are things you can fix!) and seek out items with potential !  For instance, this chair had very humble beginnings – but it's so sweet now!
Buy nice name brands – because even if you decide they don't flatter you later at home, you can probably resell them at your OWN yard sale much easier if it's a good brand.
And hey – while you consider if your instinct is right – carry it around with you so no one else takes it! 😉



5. Test & Try

Be thorough before you take something home.  Ask to plug in electronics, try on something if you can (jackets, etc), check battery compartments for corrosion, feel the edges of dishes for chips and cracks, and generally take your time assessing before you buy.
Yard sales can be such goldmines when you go in with a good plan – I'd love to hear any garage sale shopping strategies you might have as well!
Looking for more ways to save? Here you go:


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  1. One shopping strategy that works well for me is to ask garage sale hosts if they what I’m looking for if I don’t see it out. For example, I collect charm bracelets, so I always ask at garage sales if they have any old charm bracelets. It’s surprising how many people say, “just a sec,” disappear into the house and come out with some for me to look at!

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