Let’s face it; if you get up at 6 a.m., on a Saturday morning and drive all over town for the privilege of digging through other people’s discarded possessions, you need some assurance there’s a pot of gold at the end of your rainbow.
The gas alone can set you back a bundle, so you want to make certain you score big — at least most of the time. Here are a few tips for guaranteeing you experience the thrill of victory, and not just the agony of tired feet.
Hit and Run
On most days you’ve got about three hours of prime shopping time to hit as many sales as you can, so you have to move fast.
Garage sales come in three types: good stuff for good prices, good stuff for ridiculous prices, and no good stuff at all (of course “good stuff” is in the eye of the beholder). Right out of the gate, you’re looking for the first type. If you find one, feel free to slow down and fill up the car.
It’s important to identify type three as quickly as possible and move one. While you’re hanging around trying to decide if there’s any room in your house for another straw basket, someone else is two blocks over getting the brand new Elie Tahari pumps for $2.
Type two is a little trickier. Before 10 a.m., your chances of negotiating a reasonable deal with sellers who overprice is slim. Sometimes if I see another shopper head over to the check out table, I’ll listen in to see if they’re getting any kind of deal. If the seller bargains with someone else, I know I can work with them. Otherwise, I move on.
Final Close Out
I often make a note of sales that have a lot of overpriced merchandise, and I may try to return at the end of the day to see if the sellers are dealing. I’ve even made deals with a couple of sellers where I agreed to come back later if they agreed to give me a special price at that time.
One lady who had a lot of Ann Taylor clothing agreed to sell me all the women’s clothes she had left for $1 each, if I returned at 1 p.m. I made the same deal with a lady who had plus-sized clothing, which is super popular for resale. I used to have a ladies’ resale shop, and I still have an eBay business, so I can buy in bulk regardless of the size. This gives me a little more room to negotiate.
One Price Fits All
One of my favorite time-saving devices for sellers is to set a single price for all items of the same type. For instance all jeans are $2, and all tops are $1, etc. You see this kind of pricing a lot at church or fundraiser sales, but individuals some times do this too.
You can get some fantastic deals under this kind of system, as long as you understand the relative value of …well jeans for instance. True Religion jeans for $2? You bet! Faded Glory jeans for $2? Not so much.
Bag Sale Bonanza
Charity garage sales often end with the most exciting discount free for all known to man – the bag sale. For a single price – usually $2-$5, you purchase a bag (or in my case two or three bags). Everyone has to leave the sale area prior to the bag sale. At a certain time the doors are reopened and all the customers charge in like a stampede of elephants grabbing as many goodies as possible and stuffing them in their bags.
I knew my husband was a keeper the first time I took him to a bag sale. His job was to hold the bag and put the items I threw at him in it. He seemed shell shocked for a couple of hours afterward, and he kept saying, “that big lady SHOVED me!” But he didn’t break up with me, and has even agreed to help out occasionally with similar events since then.
Even so, I don’t recommend you try this with a man who isn’t already thoroughly committed to you.
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Garage Sale Shopping Tips: Finding the Best Sales Fast
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3 Strategies for Getting the Most Out of the Sales Tax Holiday