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10 Tips for Smart Shopping at a Garage Sale

A yard sale may turn out to be a great means to get some awesome things at great bargains, provided you are well-prepared for it. Yes, you need to be ready and relaxed, not only physically but mentally too. This Buzzle article gives you 10 tips to amplify your garage-sale shopping experience that will ensure you get the best out of the event.
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Tip for shopping at a garage sale
Know This
According to MSNBC, the fair pricing of garage-sale items is when they are marked 12 to 15% lower than their brand-new counterparts. Therefore, if the item is overpriced, bargain; if it's under-priced, check for defects, evaluate, and proceed.
While every seller wants maximum profits while making a sale, a true shopper would want to buy the most at minimum costs―it's pure business at the end of the day, and there is nothing wrong with that. However, to become a satisfied shopper, being money-minded isn't the only requirement.

We believe shopping to be a skill that not everyone is blessed with. It is beyond going to the venue, picking up an item, and paying the price for it. It's about fun, enjoyment, and that extra preparation to grab the 'creamy layer(s)' of the options displayed, without getting way too exhausted at the end of the day. Don't worry, you needn't put an armor as if you're entering a competition or a battlefield, but yes, a few helpful tips and tricks can make a real big difference.

Things to Keep in Mind While Garage-sale Shopping

Avid buyers wouldn't miss any moment to tap the potential profits they can make by grabbing the indispensable items they need. The best (and worse) part of a yard sale is that you leave thinking about buying a book and end up getting a shelf, as well. Be prepared to buy more than what you seek, but not what you don't need. Just because something 'looks' good for a cent doesn't mean you should buy it. Whenever you look for an item, see if it would be of actual use. Having said that, listed under are some effective tips that will prevent you from making some common mistakes, and help you get some great deals.

1. Know your venue well in advance

While your local newspaper would definitely intimate you of the yard sales that are likely to take place in the near future, another great source to know of these venues would be websites such as Craigslist, Garage Sales Tracker, and Yard Sale Search, to name a few. You can also go for a drive through the neighborhood to look for fliers, boards, and signs that advertise an upcoming sale. It would be advisable to get a map to know the exact location of the sale. This would save your traveling time, which is absolutely crucial, especially when you wish to be among the early birds. Speaking of which ...

2. To be or not to be an early bird

While being an early bird will enable you to be the first one to grab the best items on sale, for further discounts and 'free items', it is always best to go at later hours, perhaps late mornings or early afternoons. The timings of your visit should depend upon the nature of item you wish to buy. For instance, if you wish to buy 'that' vintage closet whose picture you saw on the flier, and you know you want it, rush to the venue before someone else makes the deal. However, if you want to just see if there is anything worth buying at lower prices, go towards the end. A later visit would make room for more negotiation (and perhaps some free items) as the sellers are desperate to make a sale and will be more open to bargains.

3. Wear comfortable clothing, footwear, and attitude!

These sales could be really tiring if you're not ready for them. For instance, wearing high heels, a heavy makeup, flashy jewelry, and the like wouldn't be an appropriate choice, considering the fact that you have to be on your toes, scanning through items for quite some time. Be as casual and comfortable as you can. Remember that people tend to judge you by your appearance. It would be a good idea to check the weather forecast for that day and be prepared. If what you wear infuses comfort, the same will also be reflected in your demeanor, and how you deal with the seller.

4. Don't rush, take your time

It's not a fight, you are not here to make a point or to prove something to anyone. Know that some of the best items need to be looked for, which is impossible to do with a rushy approach. If you don't have that much of time, scan through the various sales happening around that day. In some cases, one view at the place is enough to tell you what kind of goods are being sold. For instance, if you're not looking to buy furniture, and all you see there is furniture, it is best to skip that spot. And if you see clothes displayed at the next sale, you'll know if that's what you need.

Once you're at the venue, scan through the area. If there is something specific you seek, ask the seller. Many times, your inquiring may strike a cord in the seller's mind, and you may also talk him into some great discount with a friendly demeanor and a welcoming smile. Also, remember that some of the best items can be found only by looking patiently. Any kind of rush will also prevent you from carefully scrutinize the item and look for possible defects. For instance, if the board says that a beautiful lamp is in working condition, ensure to check if that's the case.

5. Let the bargain begin!

After finding the item(s) you need, determine if they have been priced properly. Again, we emphasize to check for defects like that's your job. If you find any, ask for further discount, especially if you feel that you'll need to spend some money in its repair. Many times, the seller asks you to quote a price for the said item. In these situations, be very calculative. Most of the time, the buyers end up paying a higher amount than what the seller expected. As mentioned earlier, do quote your figure after deducting 12 to 15% of what you think would be the cost of a brand new item of that make. Your offer could go even lower, but should definitely not go more than that. Again, make sure that your haggling is reasonable and not desperate.

6. Take more for better discounts

The more you buy the more discounts you get. If you are a reseller, or perhaps you have liked quite a bit of stuff from there, try to negotiate based on this point. For instance, if there is a set of two bedside tables, each being priced for USD 75. Instead of buying one, you can pick both and rather than paying USD 150, pay USD 120. You save money, and the seller saves the trouble to sell a single table without pair. Also, if you have bought a hell of a lot of things from that sale, you must insist on additional discounts; to which most sellers agree.

7. Keep the change handy

Common sense, the last thing you would want to do is to wait for the seller to arrange for change, or go asking around yourself. Keep small bills and coins ready with you to avoid the hassle. In fact, many a time, it so happens that you end up paying a few cents more than the agreed price because the seller doesn't have the required change.

8. The things you must carry along

Other than small bills and change, there are a lot many things you must keep handy. These include water, snacks, sanitizer, moist wipes, carry bag, gloves, mask, measuring device (in case you're buying furniture and fixtures), cell phone, and other essentials depending upon the weather and surrounding. While most buyers avoid carrying these, thinking them to be unnecessary, but trust us, they will not be an additional burden, but will make your shopping experience all the more smooth.

9. Keep your eyes open for exquisite items

Always keep your eyes open for exquisite items. That ancient-looking lamp or chandelier may seem like a dusty piece of junk, but you never know what simple cleaning and a touch up may reveal. If you don't have the eye for it, take a friend who is known to get some extraordinary items from ordinary yard sales. Trust us when we say this: A little restoration effort from your part may get you a masterpiece of a lifetime. Use your creativity and ideas to imagine what the potential contribution of an ornament could be to adorn that empty space in your home. Thus, garage sales are a great means to collect some astonishing artifacts.

10. If you wish, try visiting again on the last day

The last day of sale calls for some unexpected free items and some serious drop in marked prices. The logic is that, because it happens to be 'the' last day, the seller just wants to clear off the leftovers desperately―who wants to take all that back inside the house? We have seen some amazing things happen on the last day. An item worth USD 50 being marked at USD 20, a painting free with a table; you never know what you might get! Again, pick items you would use, and not store (unless you're a reseller).

Apart from the aforementioned points, remember to wear a friendly smile all the time; at times, that is enough to turn the tables your way. Be as polite and nice as possible. A few good words, compliments, and courteousness is all it takes. In fact, if there is an item you want and the seller wishes to wait to decide if he should agree to your offered price, giving your contact number would be a sweet gesture. If he fails to get a desired amount for that item, he would definitely consider you, if not for the price, for the kindness. You can also ask the seller to let you know if he plans to conduct any future sales. Building a personal rapport always pays off. If you have some tips of your own, feel free to share them with us through the comments section below. Happy shopping!
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Published: February 13, 2014
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