Garage sales are a nice spring and summer activity. Hunting through the yard sale listings in the paper will give you a few ideas about where the sales will be located. But, they only tell a small part of the story. Most garage sale sellers don’t advertise in the paper. A classified is expensive, and most yard salers don’t want that extra expense to cut into their take. The majority or garage sale sellers will make signs to hang around the neighborhoods and on main roads. If you drive down any main road, note the signs, but also pay attention to the dates listed. The sale may have been held two weeks ago. If there is no date, do your best to estimate the sign’s age. If it’s water stained and it hasn’t rained that week, it’s a good bet that this particular sale is over.
One misnomer is that only the priciest neighborhoods have the good stuff. This is not entirely true. You can find good stuff anywhere, though it can more reliably be found in the more expensive areas. The problem is that a lot of sales in the worse parts of town are there to make the seller money. So, though there may be good things, the prices will usually be higher. In the more expensive areas, people generally just want to get rid of stuff and are not relying on the sale to pay their bills.
There are two good times to hit yard sales if you want the best prices. The first is the early morning on the first day of the sale. I have this to be true several times and have reached a conclusion as to the reason behind it. If you can be one of the first customers at the sale, the seller will be excited at the prospect of a customer and will usually make you a better deal. After a day or two, the customers are an irritant and they have no problem arguing about prices.
The other good time to buy is right as the sale is closing. All of the arguing has been done, and some of the prices they wanted were refused. So now, at the end of the sale, they are looking at hauling their old junk back into the house. You’d be amazed at how loose sellers become with the merchandise at this point. Drag it in and hold another sale, or sell it for a buck? The buck wins out every time.
It’s an old trick as well to be as nice and chatty as possible. This works on two fronts- the nicer and easier to get along with, the easier they find it to cut you a good deal. On the other hand, less talkative people will make you a great deal just so you will go away.
Some people tend to think that showing up a couple of hours before the sale starts will get them a better crack at the good stuff. No, it will get you cursed out and the door slammed in your face. I have heard about this happening to more and more yard sale sellers, and it is dismaying. The seller may be selling things out in the open and to the public at large, but you still have to remember that this is their home and it has to be respected. The hours they choose are their own business. But if you can be respectful of their property, the hours they choose, and still bargain politely, you have every reason to expect a few good deals.