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Author: LQueiros Big gold star, 5000 posts Top Favorite Fools Feste Award Nominee! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 10582  
Subject: How to Optimizing your Yard Sale Experience Date: 5/28/2000 3:14 PM
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So, the thing is that people won't discuss yard sales or trade tips with each other - the snobbery!!

Well TBosh, this one's for you.

OPTIMIZING YOUR YARD SALE EXPERIENCE

1. Dress down
Jeans, simple shirt, no jewelery, no designer clothes, etc. Do not look like you are made of money, even if you are. Seller will judge price to offer based upon your assumed ability to pay.

2. You are not what you drive
All things being equal, f you have a choice of vehicles, take the lower status one. (refer to ability to pay mentioned above) Of course, if the other vehicle has a large cargo capacity that is a more important factor.

3. Be a Boy Scout
Be prepared. Waist pouch (no purse) so hands are free & funds are secure. Have plenty of small bills & change. Nothing worse than paying 25 cents for a crystal bowl with a $20 bill! Stock the car with supplies: spare towels/blankets/newspaper for padding, rope/twine/bungees for securing the load, paper/plastic bags, lunch/beverages for yourself so you aren't stuck getting fast food. If you are a morning yard-saler, you will inevitably find yourself going past lunch as you come across "just one more" unadvertised sale poster stapled to a phone pole. Keep maps of all the local towns in the car - most town halls have them for free. Stick one plastic bag in your pocket. Carry a magnet for differentiating brass plated steel from real brass. Bring a tape measure. I have a minature one permanently on my keychain. Carry a list of your wants. I keep a running list in my Pilot. Pre-measure areas at home (windows, doors, room sizes) & keep that on your list. You won't wonder if that sofa will fit in your room or if those curtains are right for your windows. Bring pre-written notes/business cards with your name/phone to give to sellers of potential items. (see #15)

4. Plan uselessly
Make your tentative route the night before from the ads in the local paper. Take the time that each sale starts/ends into consideration. Know that you will NEVER drive that exact route! You will find unadvertised yard sale signs along the way & have to make adjustments. But by knowing your general route, you can make your decisions more easily, saving time & gas.

5. Know the best time to yard sale
Best merchandise goes early. Best bargains are late in the day (see, there is NEVER a bad time to yard sale ;))

6. Early bird gets the worm
Respect the folks who advertise "no early birds" (ok, I'll show up 15 minutes early, but no more).

7. Be an equal-opportunity yard saler
The ugliest looking junk sale sometimes has gems among the crap. You just never know what you will find. Don't be a snob.

8. Beware the perpetual yard sale
You will not get your best bargains here. But you may find some harder-to-find items. I give them a look because of that if I have the time, skip them if I don't. Prepare to walk out without buying anything if you can't get your price.

9. Read the Fine Print
When you come across a sign for a yard sale, try to stop in a safe spot & read the details. Do not assume because the sign points to the right that you will find more signs leading you to the sale. You will find yourself driving aimlessly when the next sign has blown away. Read the directions & hours on that first sign. (take it from my first hand experience :))

10. Skim from the top
Make a quick circle of the displays. Pick up the obvious things you like right away. Never leave anything you think you might like sitting on the table, even if it has an expensive price. All prices are negotiable. If you leave it sitting while you mull the decision, someone will snatch it away.

11. Circle the wagons
Slow down & pay more attention to details. Circle around again. Look for those goodies you may have missed the first time. Mull over what you are carrying from your first circuit & put back down anything you decided you don't want.

12. Pile it on!
If you are carrying too many items, ask the seller if you can leave your pile near them while you look at more items. Prevents others from snatching your goodies while you look for more.

13. Volumn discounts
Keep a running total of the prices in your pile. I do this in my head. Others might want to write it down. When you have all your items, calculate what you will pay for them & offer the seller a lump sum for the pile (e.g. "how about $x for everything?") You will usually get a better bargain total this way. Do NOT pay for/bargain on every item as you pick it up. I try to avoid having the seller count the price on every single item if I can. If you can't, still bargain on the prices for each.

14. The Great Escape
Get your bargains in the car right away. Don't wait for another buyer to come along & find out the item just sold & say to the seller "You sold it for WHAT? Do you know how much that is worth?!" (Obviously not, or you wouldn't have gotten your price ;)) Hence the extra plastic bag in your pocket - if the seller has no bags, you can pile your stuff in it. Saves making two trips.

15. Ask & Ye Shall Receive
If you don't see anything you want (or even when you do), ask if they have that thingamabob for which you've been hunting (whip out your list). You just never know when ol' Joe has it stored in the garage & has been toying with selling it, but couldn't be bothered. Sometimes having a buyer right there is incentive enough. I found a sofa table, 5' x 5' mirror & golf cart with this method last summer.

16. Never Say Die
Found a nice piece but the seller won't come down far enough on the price? Leave your name & phone # with them. Ask them to call you if they change their mind or it doesn't sell. Or at least ask if you can stop by at the end of the day to see if it sold.

17. Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder
Look beyond the crud & dirt. Many things are for sale because others couldn't be bothered to maintain them. Can you turn that trash into treasure with a little elbow grease or paint? Well constructed hardwoods, brass, copper and crystal items have value. Finishes can be re-done.

18. Get Your Creative Juices Flowing
Try to find different uses for all that urban waste. Maybe a carved headboard becomes a wall sculpture with a little alteration. Or a birdcage is a plant holder. Try to look at the possibilites instead of the original intent. Especially for stuff that has very interesting shape, design, materials, etc. After all, "shabby chic" is very popular. Many antiques can be incorporated into today's interiors quite easily. Besides, it's fun to say "Yup, I made it myself" when friends comment on your interesting pieces.

19. Spare Me
Buy junk for the spare parts. Need some lamp parts for one you're making or repairing? Ugly lamps can be bought for 25-50 cents. The lamp kits in the store sell for $5. Get your spare parts from an ugly but working lamp. Same thing goes for a lot of other little repairs around the house. Extra dolly wheels are handy. Make your own dolly from scrap 2 X 4s, yard sale wheels & carpet scraps. Or put the wheels on old dresser drawers from an ugly dresser. Use them underneath your bed as trundle drawers. Paint/decorate the drawers to match your decor.

20. You Get What You Ask For
Always, always, always bargain! The seller will not shoot you (well, maybe he'll shoot you a dirty look ;)) Don't be afraid to counter-offer their offer it you want to get the price down more. If they countered, they're willing to deal. If you have a budget or you know the item is always for sale at yard sales (books, toys, curtains, etc), stick to your price. If they won't come down, quote the highest price you'll take with "Well, my budget is for $x, can you do that?" Most people understand a budget & aren't going to be offended. (If they are, well foohy on them, they aren't your best bud anyway). Try a group bargain "If I buy 5 for $1 each, will you throw in a 6th for free?"

21. Practice Indifference
Don't get excited in the yard about anything you find. You'll just increase the price you pay. Save the excitement for the drive back home.

22. You Catch More Flies with Honey than Vinegar
It doesn't hurt to compliment the seller on their beautiful flower garden, pet the cat or comment on what a nice day it is for their sale. People are more willing to deal with those they like than those they don't like. I'm not saying to be phony - I always comment on things I believe - their cat IS nice, the flowers ARE georgeous, etc. There have been times when I know I got a better deal because I am an animal lover or my family is from Portugal & we had a nice conversation about those with the seller. (Just don't go overboard so they think you have tons of money to spend because you talk about expensive hobbies)

23. Do Market Research
You will do your best bargaining when you know the price you can get elsewhere. Even if you aren't buying certain items that day, keep an eye on prices in general. At least you will have a rough guide for when you do need to buy that item.

24. Practice, Practice, Practice
The more you bargain, the better & more comfortable you get. And the more you will be willing to push your minimum price down. If my MIL, who doesn't speak english well & is very shy can do it, so can you! She would never bargain on anything a few years ago. Now she beats me sometimes! We have a game of "guess that price" when she finds a great deal. I have to guess how much she was able to get her bargain for. She's so funny.

Well, I hope some of that helped!

Laura
bargain hunter
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