..is another man’s treasure. Truer words have never been spoken.

The most definitive example of this statement is the age old trend of garage sales. I remember it like it was yesterday; waking up a 4:30 on a SATURDAY with my mom, route in hand, a clean car, wads of cash, and bargain faces on.

There’s no doubt some of the best bargains can be found at yard sales. Items with color, personality, that you won’t find anywhere else are just waiting for you to throw a few dollars down, load up, and give a new shot of life to.

Garage Sale

Garage Sale (Photo credit: besighyawn)

But it is definitely an endeavor. After years of doing it alongside my favorite partner, mom, I have some tips to share with everyone that will help them make the most of treasure hunting:

1. Plan your route the night before. Gather your addresses and plan out a smooth route. MapQuest has an awesome route planner that will sort and organize all addresses you input into the system. That way you’re ready to go in the morning with no chance of running back and forth all over town.

2. Bring plenty of cash. This is pretty obvious. You can’t use your card and most people are pretty weary of personal checks. Cash is the boss. Take lots of ones and other smaller bills. Put your cash in separate wads- one for furniture (little higher in amount), one for clothes, and one for knacks. Helps you keep organized.

3. ALWAYS negotiate. If anything you want is over $10, try to reason with the price. The best way to do so is to pull out the amount you’re willing to pay, present the cold hard cash right then and there, and let them decide if they’ll accept. You can always add a dollar or two more, but starting low is the best bet that you’ll get the best deal. One of my moms favorite things to do was grab a lot of stuff and offer one flat price for it. Worked every time.

4. Check the items. Make sure buttons aren’t missing, zippers zip, and pieces are complete. Do a quick once over to assure that any item, from board games to t-shirts, are in the condition you want them to be in.

5. Dig! Don’t be scared or shy. That’s one thing my mom taught me. Boxes, bags, crates, etc, they’re all filled with the things the person WANTS to sell. You never know what hidden treasure you might pass up by not looking through things.

Yard Sale Northern California May 2005. This i...

Yard Sale Northern California May 2005. This image is in the public domain. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

6. Tip: YARD SALES HAPPEN RAIN OR SHINE. You might score some sweet deals by venturing out in less than desirable weather. My mom once bought a sofa worth at least $200 for $40 once because of bad weather.

7. Go early, stay late: The best deals happen first thing in the AM and just before things are put away for the night. In the morning, you’re there early and they’re ready to unload. In the afternoon, go back to any ones you left desired items at hours before and see if they are still there. If they are, you’re probably going to score a sweet deal, as many folks just want to get rid of stuff and pack up.

8. Interact: This was my moms key to successful yard sailing. She made friends with the other shoppers and the yard sale host. Chatted about items, families, and the weather. It helped her drive harder bargains, make new friends, and ultimately spice up the experience. Yard Sales are not dog-eat-dog environments. Its a fun way to spend the morning and use the recycle system. So make it fun!

9. Pack snacks. You don’t want to waste precious time stopping for food. Bring a batch of fruit, nuts, and bars to help you stay energized during the peak yard sale hours.

10. Dress modestly. Again, it helps with the bargain negotiations that you’re not wearing super expensive clothes. It may be a harsh point, but its one I’ve seen make a difference.

These tips will hopefully help you not only find better deals, but make going to yard sales something you look forward to not just for the things, but for the overall experience. Happy sailing!

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