7 Garage Sale Buying Strategies!

This weekend is my town’s annual “World’s Longest Beach Garage Sale”!. More than 20 miles of nonstop garage sale heaven! I thought I’d give you some of my strategies for making a successful “score” at a garage sale:

  • When you drive up to the sale, look for signs of organization. Someone who can’t set up tables to hold items and has things strewn everywhere is not going to have a clue about what to charge for things either. Unless you spot something from your car that you want, skip this sale. The aggravation is not worth your time.
  • When you approach a promising sale, look for the basic organization of the sale. Are like things together? This is a good sign. If you don’t immediately see the type of item you’re looking for, ask where the “whoosits” are. You should be directed to the proper location. If there aren’t items that you’re interested in, consider moving on to the next sale. Don’t waste your time browsing a sale unlikely to have anything you’d be interested in buying. But before you go, have a quick scan of the items available just in case there is something of interest.
  • Are items priced?    I generally do not like sales where items are not priced. But I will browse a sale anyway if promising items seem to be included.  I just find that dickering takes time and I don’t want to spend mine dickering over each item individually.  My idea of a good price and the seller’s are based on different realities.  To me, the whoosit is something for me to use or resell, and to the seller it holds fond memories about it’s acquisition or use in their life. This can lead to a prolonged back and forth while working out a price.
  • Are there signs about policies such as “prices firm until noon” or “make an offer”? And I like sellers who can state their intentions about dickering and pricing.  It helps me to know without asking whether or not the seller is amenable to a lower offer.  Sellers don’t like to have to say “no” to a request for a lower price, and I don’t like to hear it either. It saves both our nerves to be upfront about “the rules” being followed.
  • When you see something that you might buy, pick it up and carry it around with you as you continue to browse. If you do, you won’t have remorse that you missed an item you wanted because somebody else saw you put it down and picked it up because their attention was drawn to it. You can always decide not to buy it and leave it at the checkout table for the owner to replace on the table.
  • If your load is getting heavy, ask for a box or if you can start a stack of items at the cashier’s table. Most sellers are happy to accommodate your needs in this regard. If you sense reluctance to do so, be wary about the sale as a whole. Something is wrong with this seller’s attitude. I’ve been known to put the stuff I was carrying around down right there and leave!
  • Be polite and friendly. Smile! Even if you’ve decided not to buy anything, it is polite to thank the seller for letting you look.

It turns out I have a lot more points to make, especially about the fine art of haggling, but I’ll leave this topic for a future article.

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