Thursday thoughts: Yard sale shopping 101

Now that the yard sale season has started, it’s time to head out for the Saturday morning treasure hunt! This week I’m offering some ideas for finding great bargains at yard sales as well as some tips on hosting a sale.

Posted Updated classifieds
Faye Prosser

Now that the yard sale season has started, it’s time to head out for the Saturday morning treasure hunt! There are some fabulous deals to be found at yard sales with a little planning and preparation.  Last week on 5 On Your Side, I spoke with Brian Shrader about tips on how to have a successful yard sale. This week I’m offering some ideas for finding great bargains at yard sales as well as a few more tips on hosting a sale.

Tips for yard sale shopping:
  • Find out where the yard sales are before ever getting into your car. Check out classifieds,, and for area yard sales. also has an iPhone application. Your local newspaper will also have yard sales listed in the classified section on Fridays and Saturdays.
  • Map out your route and bring a local map (just in case you get lost, which does happen!).
  • Make a list of any specific items you are looking for.
  • Bring plenty of change and small bills.
  • Take food and drink – you don’t want to spend money and time looking for a snack.
  • If you are bringing the kids, pack plenty of things to entertain them – coloring books, DVD player, snacks, drinks, books.
  • Take a tape measure if looking for items like curtains or furniture to make sure the dimensions will work.
  • Wear comfortable clothes and shoes and don’t forget the sunscreen and sunglasses/hat
  • Start early – the best items go fast.
  • Don’t start too early – it’s ok to get to a sale 15 minutes before the posted start time. It’s not appropriate to get there an hour early.
  • Be patient – you may not find anything for the first 4 houses.
  • Look for additional yard sale signs while traveling planned route – not everyone advertises in the paper or online.
  • Look very closely at each item for tears, scratches, chips, cracks, etc.
  • Negotiate, negotiate, negotiate! By about noon, most sellers are really willing to negotiate so they don’t have to haul the items back into the house.
  • If a seller won’t come down on a price and you are not willing to pay the higher price, give the seller your name and phone number. Let the seller know that if the item does not sell by the end of the day that he/she can call you if they are willing to take the price you have offered.
  • For many more suggestions on successful yard sale shopping, check out:

Tips for having a yard sale:
  • Go in as a group with your neighbors. More houses = better traffic.
  • Advertise on classifieds,,, and your local paper.
  • Hang large legible signs with thick writing at key intersections near your home.
  • Include the date and start time of the sale so people know when to come shop.
  • Make sure you have change including quarters, $1’s, $5’s and $10’s.
  • Start preparing early in the week so you are not still pricing items the morning of the sale.
  • Price everything or group together on tables and price all items on the table at the same price.
  • Price items 10% - 30% of their original retail price. Be prepared to negotiate. If you have a higher value item, price it a little higher so you have wiggle room to negotiate. You can always lower the price if you aren’t getting any interest with the posted price.
  • Display things so they are easy to see, prices are showing and electronic items can be tested with an extension cord. Don’t just throw 40 items in a box and expect people to sort though all the boxes. Many won’t. Make it easy for shoppers to see what you have to offer.
  • Hang clothes on a rack for easier viewing.
  • Be a salesperson – friendly, chatty and willing to help. I have been to too many yard sales where the seller wouldn’t even make eye contact.
  • Don’t smoke at your yard sale. It’s a sure way to drive away buyers who can’t stand the smell of smoke and it tells shoppers that your items probably smell like smoke as well.
  • Be open to bargaining, but don’t go too low on the more valuable items.
  • Carry the money on you in a purse or fanny pack. Don’t leave it in a cash box on a table while you walk around.
  • Provide plastic bags for people to use for the items they buy.
  • On a hot day, make a little extra by selling cookies, bottled water and canned sodas (bought on sale for $2.50 for a 12 pack (.20 per can) and sold for .50 per can).
  • Check out for tons of tips and funny stories about having a yard sale.

Please share your yard sale tips or funny yard sale experiences. Are there any really weird things you have ever seen at a yard sale?

Good luck on your hunting and selling and remember to have fun! Going to a yard sale with a friend always makes it more enjoyable so grab your neighbor and start shopping. As I always say, it’s your money – spend it wisely!


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