Whether they are known as yard sales, tag sales, garages sales, or something else entirely, the sale of one man’s junk truly can be another man’s treasure. Especially popular in neighborhoods across America during the summer months, a yard sale can be a great place to pick up almost anything at a great price. It’s a win-win situation. The seller cleans out their space and makes a little extra cash and the shopper picks up a book, an article of clothing, a chair. or an iron for a fraction of the “new” price and the environment is spared from more perfectly usable items polluting the soil and ground water.
Before heading out on those weekend treasure hunts, make sure to be fully prepared by following the guidelines listed here. It will make the whole experience fun, worthwhile, and money-wise too.
Before you go
- Map out a route by looking in the newspaper and any local posting areas. Some communities have a bulletin board and others a telephone pole, where everyone tacks a sign announcing their sale. By mapping out a route, time and money is saved because there will be no back tracking.
- Dress comfortably and appropriately. Nothing can cut the treasure-hunting day short quicker than an ill-fitting pair of shoes or pants that are too tight at the waistband. Also, dress in layers so the chilly morning that required a sweatshirt can easily transition to the afternoon when a tank top will suffice.
- Bring cash in small denominations. It’s always best to pay in cash; strangers generally aren’t willing to take a personal check. Also, don’t have a wallet full of twenty dollar bills. Especially at the earliest sales of the day, the seller isn’t going to have a lot of change. Everyone will be happier and things will go quicker if small bills are used.
At the sale
- To get the best price, don’t hop out of the car, make a mad dash for that vintage Monopoly game, and yell, “Mine, mine, mine!” Walk around and casually glance at all the merchandise before making any decisions. Yard sale pros can spot an overeager shopper a mile away and love it! Take some time and thoroughly check out items to make sure all the parts are there, it’s the right size, etc.
- Ask questions! “Does this work? Can I plug it in and test it? Are you firm on this price?” Asking questions at a yard sale is no different than asking questions at a car lot. Be an informed buyer and leave happy. Also, ask if the seller is willing to bargain, especially at the end of the day. If there are several treasures begging to be taken home, the seller may make a deal just to get rid of the stuff.
- Be friendly. Greet the person taking the money and make polite conversation. Deals are more easily made between friends than between enemies.
- Bring a tape measure to make sure those to-die-for curtains will really fit the kitchen windows or that couch will fit in the family room.
After the sale
- Unload purchases from the car or truck immediately. Wash and put away any clothing or dishes. Dust off books and knick knacks and put on the appropriate shelf. Nothing is worse than leaving it in the car only to find there is no room for new treasures on the following weekend.
- Get rid of something. Whether it’s by holding a sale, donating to the local thrift store, or passing it on to a friend or neighbor, when something comes in, something should go out. Even if it means sorting things into piles for the recycling bin.
- Sit back and enjoy the day’s purchases. If treasure hunting was done with a friend, congratulate each other on purchases that might still be treasure in disguise and then enjoy dinner out together with all the cash that was saved by shopping used.
Here are some upcoming sales for treasure hunters in northern California.
Friday and Saturday, Aug 20-21
8AM to 4PM
(Near I-80 & Elkhorn, off Butterball then Holworthy)
Saturday, Aug. 21st
Techline Studio, 2538-B Mercantile Drive Near Sunrise & Hwy 50.
SATURDAY August 28th
Lake California Clubhouse
19999 Lake California Drive
Open to public, 25+ vendors
Benefits Retired & Senior Volunteer Program
Saturday, August 28
9am to 2pm, no earlybirds
4 Crescent Circle