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10 Tips for a successful day of yard sale shopping

For the true bargain hunter, nothing is more exhilarating than coming home from a day of garage sale shopping with a trunk full of steals and deals. Here are some tips for making your yard sale shopping trip as pleasant and profitable as possible.

Get the newspaper

Even if you don’t get the newspaper every day, you’ll probably want to buy or borrow one the day before your shopping trip. Although the online versions of most major newspapers have yard sale listings, the most complete listings are usually found in your newspaper’s classified section.

Use a map

You want to spend the majority of your time actually finding bargains, not driving all over town. Use the classified ads and a map to locate the areas that have the most sales. Concentrate on hitting all the sales in those areas.

Make a map

A computer program for making maps (such as Rand McNally’s StreetFinder) comes in very handy for planning your yard sale route. But even if you don’t have this program, you can still use a city map or even an online map service such as Yahoo! Maps to locate sales and get directions.

Dress comfortably

Your yard sale shopping experience will be more pleasant if you are comfortable. Wear weather-appropriate clothing and comfortable shoes. Sunscreen and a hat can also be helpful if you’ll be out in the sun for long periods. And don’t forget to hit the bathroom before you leave the house!

Bring snacks

To keep your hunger and thirst at bay, take along a small cooler with easy-to-eat snacks and plenty to drink. Of course, you could make a quick stop at a fast-food drive-thru when your stomach starts to growl, but that would take time away from bargain-hunting.

Bring a small purse

Rather than carrying your purse, you may want to carry just your money and any essentials in a fanny pack or small change purse you can put in your pocket. This leaves your hands free to inspect the merchandise and also frees you from worrying about your purse being stolen.


Negotiating is the name of the game. Most sellers are willing to deal as long as you are fair with them. Asking the seller to take $2 for an item that is marked $20 is pushing your luck. However, the seller may be more than willing to sell the item for $15 or even $10, depending how late in the day it is.

Start early

Going to yard sales early in the day (as soon as the sales open) has the advantage of getting the best selection. If you are looking for a big-ticket item such as furniture or electronics, you’ll probably have to go early. But going later in the day has its advantages, too. Sometimes, sellers are willing to practically give their stuff away rather than pack it up and carry it back into their homes.

Bring change

Be sure to carry lots of change and small bills. Wiping out the seller’s entire change supply with $20 for a $1 sale is inconsiderate. Save your change throughout the week to use for your Saturday yard sale trip.

Leave your contact info

If you try to negotiate on a large item, but the seller won’t budge, leave your name and phone number along with the price you are willing to pay. Tell the proprietor to give you a call at the end of the day if the item doesn’t sell and she wants to sell the item at your price.

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