You do have to shop carefully to get the most out of yard sales. These tips can help you find bargains on things you can really use...
Prepare for a day of shopping:
- Be prepared by bringing: cash in small denominations, a tape measure to get the right sizes of clothing and home decor items, and batteries to test gadgets.
- Don't drive a fancy car or wear your most outrageous goth outfit when you go to these sales. It's harder to bargain if you look like you're made of money, & you may not get a great deal if you appear like a super scary freak.
- You can find the best selection right when a sale opens, so go early. But if you see something and can't get the price you want, ask when the sale is ending and come back later. If the item is still around, you might get a lower price then.
- Stay cool and comfortable by wearing a hat and sunscreen and bringing a refillable bottle with water, plus snacks for the day. I prefer a big hat over a parasol so I can keep my hands free.
What to look for at yard sales & how to bargain like a pro:
- Looking for antiques, collectibles, or furniture? Head to older neighborhoods because the longer-term residents may be cleaning out attics and basements of older things.
- Know brand names and genuine values. Brands made for Wal-Mart and Target (especially clothing) aren't great deals second-hand because the items won't have much life left in them. But high-end brands & vintage labels can last for years more. Also, if you are a collector, know the value of your favorite items so you can spot a real deal.
- Start by complimenting the item, no matter how beat-up it is. Never talk down what you're trying to buy -- the seller may have loved that thing at one time.
- Don't go too low. If an item is marked $20, don't offer $5. Try $15 or maybe $10 if the original price seems wildly inaccurate.
- Ask if you can combine purchases for a better price. For example, if you want a $5 item and a $7 item, ask if the seller will take $10 for both. Or if you're buying a large number of items, ask if the seller will throw in another small item for free.
- Know what you'll do if your offer is rejected. Will you walk away or pay the full price? Plan ahead, and stick with your plan.
--excerpted from Yard Sale Shopping Tips
What I'm wearing: Purple knit dress, Land's End | Purple tights, Calvin Klein | Gunmetal wedge heels, Anne Klein | Black skull-print scarf, gift from my husband | Silver hoop earrings, random accessory store