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Sat July 10 2010 12:27:52

Lets Talk Yard Sales!

By: David Steiner

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It used to be a Saturday ritual: Ina and I would grab some coffee, a newspaper, and spend the morning driving from yard sale to yard sale, looking for things to resell or keep for our own use. Even if we came back empty-handed, the excitement was always in the "hunt." It's been several years, but recently, the bug seems to have bitten us again.

I've always enjoyed the social aspect of yard sales. Over time, you learn to recognize the dealers from the casual buyers, and I have never been shy about asking people if they resell, and get their take on the market. To a person, they tell me the same thing:
  1.  There are fewer yard sales.
  2.  The quality of items at these sales has decreased substantially.
  3.  The prices people want for their items has increased.
Of course, this could be a regional thing. It could be that we're arriving too late to find interesting stuff. Maybe we're hitting the wrong sales.

There used to be a cool thread on the now-defunct OTWA (Online Traders Web Alliance) boards, where people would post and boast about their Saturday yard sale finds. It's been a long time since I've seen a discussion like this. Do AuctionBytes readers still make the weekly trek out to these sales? And if so, how are the pickings?

I'd like to live vicariously through you, so post your finds here! Let us know how sales are in your area. And is this topic worthy of a weekly thread on AB?

Comments (34) | Permalink

Readers Comments

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by: love em but

Sat Jul 10 12:57:06 2010

For more years than I care to think about my mother in law and I were yard sale junkies. Every Thursday and Friday we would bring home our goodies to resell.

But now most of the yard sales are things left over from the last yard sale and the sale before that one. Seems like everyone has cleaned out the basement.

Now we are doing estate auctions. Its a nice way to spend the time on a Saturday. Prices aren't to awfully bad either.

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by: Marilyn in Jersey

Sat Jul 10 13:31:47 2010

I'd LOVE to see a weekly thread about yard sales!! I just got back and had a pretty good day. 2 Longaberger baskets for $1 each, some Trixie Belden Hardbacks from the 50's - quarter each, what I believe is a blue glass HON from Westmoreland (haven't had time to look it up yet) for $2. And possibly my best find - 5 huge bags of packing peanuts that someone was giving away. I could hardly see out my rear view mirror, but I snatched those up in a heartbeat! LOL!

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by: Kim
Web Site

Sat Jul 10 13:51:39 2010

I love yard sales. We talk about it at Here Comes the Stork every week! Try it!

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This user has validated their user name. by: Bob

Sat Jul 10 13:55:29 2010

Tougher here in Houston: fewer Fri & Sat Yard Sales than in the past & alot more junk. Also, anything decent gets snapped up VERY quick...

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by: A distant memory

Sat Jul 10 14:14:52 2010

Twenty Years ago i'd say the Yard Sales were great in Upstate New York and western mass. But now with Antiques Roadshow, assorted TV shows explaining treasures in your attic, eBay ! (yes even them--early on, of course), the rummage sales, church sales, garage sales etc. are terrible. High priced junk, new stuff, and people who act suspious if you even smell like a dealer.
We dress down, you know, to look like  bums, say the kids are cute, pet the dog, etc., but the days of finding another Roy Rogers Original Metal Fort Game in the original box for 1.00 are long gone. As far as estate sales; They are poison. High priced, long lines, poorly run snobbish companies that pick through before anything comes out. Waste of time and frustrating. For example "house of rose" is so hated that most regulars do NOT go to her estate sales anymore.
The BEST stuff interesting enough now is on TRASH DAY. Go early and don't make a mess. I often find great old movies, all kinds of posters and empherma, toys, gems that folks put out for the trash removal.
I once found TWO huge boxes of 1950-1960's ELVIS Fam Magazines in their original mailing envelopes- in someone's recycling bin!

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by: Harriet This user has validated their user name.

Sat Jul 10 15:26:50 2010

I LOVE yard sales, estate sales, church sales, thrift shops, you name it. It is all about the "hunt" and I also get many practical items for myself or my family. Just recently, I got a set of twin Extra Long sheets. My grandson will be going to college in the late summer and the beds are twin Extra Long. Those sheets are hard to find.

Last week, I found a pair of beautiful vintage Orrefors candlesticks in great shape, yesterday an Anri Ferrandiz music box and two highly collectible plates. Today, at the local animal shelter annual sale, I found 2 14KT gold necklaces and a vintage Wilton cake pan.

I have found Swarovski pieces in the original box in excellent condition for 25 cents at a high school rummage sale, and found 2 crystal pigs, (one vintage Swarovski large pig, and a Trimlite small pig), Trimlite is a forerunner of Swarovski and rare and quite valuable. That was an estate sale and the person collected all sorts of pigs. The house was loaded with pigs of every description, and her family was totally overwhelmed and just wanting to get rid of it all.

Where I live, yard, rummage and other sales are in high gear. We even have whole town sales almost every weekend. It's a blast.

The best house sales are the estate sales where the entire house is open to rummaging around, cellar to attic. That's where you find some of the most unusual items.

The best whole town sales are really in the boonies. The people are friendly, the air is fresh, many people have great baked goods for sale, some of the churches have home cooked breakfast or lunch. It's makes for a very nice day, lots and lots of walking, which is good, lots of fresh air which is good, and very pleasant surroundings and scenery.

And by the way, it doesn't matter much if the crowd buys up many of the items before you get there, if you have a good eye, you can find unbelieveable treasures.

I look for sales on Craigslist, the newspaper and the local Penny Saver paper that comes out once a week.

I hope I have inspired you to once again enjoy sales. They are a lot of fun.

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by: Rich

Sat Jul 10 19:16:17 2010

Ebay sucks now so why go to garage sales? It used to be fun--buy for $5 and sell for $25 and pay $2 in fees.  Now it's buy for $5 and sell for $15 and pay $5 to Ebay and Paypal and lose $2 on shipping?  Garage sales in upstate New York have less buyers and less sellers--killed by Ebay and the threat of state jobs being cut. Craigslist is where it's at now in Upstate NY

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by: kw

Sat Jul 10 19:53:39 2010

Since ebay has been in decline yard sales, estate sales, and live local auctions have become popular again.  The trick in my area is to avoid estate sales run by pros.  Other than that there are some great finds at good prices that can be resold on any site for a profit except ebay.

I recently found an old set of movie lobby cards at an estate sale for $10.00.  After some research it looks like they should sell for around $150 to $175.  I'll be listing them on Bonanzle in the next few weeks. These days I wouldn't even dream of listing them on ebay.

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by: Imagine That

Sat Jul 10 20:15:00 2010

Good garage sales are definitely hard to find anymore. You need to be careful what you sell on eBay though. I personally sell only new items. Buyers cannot receive negative feedback, so they are becoming very picky and demanding, and some don't even bother read the listings. Remember eBay only has a buyer protection policy.

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by: On Lies and Secrets This user has validated their user name.

Sat Jul 10 20:49:11 2010

I was never much into yard sales myself, but they are very, very popular here - even in this heat.  My neighborhood association had one today.  You have to be careful driving through my neighborhood, because cars will suddenly do strange things when  near a yard sale (I think drivers go a little mad when they see one and have to hurry to find a place to park. I have seen some very crazy driving).  There seems to be a mix of old and new items and there are probably some decent finds around here - the area is diverse so there are elderly people aging in place, empty nesters as well as young families just starting out (and just about everything in between). There seem to be more this year than in years past, but this could be because of the economy (people selling unused things for extra money or downsizing prior to moving to smaller homes).

I think there are different strategies for buying at yard sales.  Some people buy for resale, but my sister-in-law (who lives in another state) buys a lot of her children's clothes at them.  She often finds brand new or barely worn  kids clothes marked down to nothing. I have colleagues who go yardsaling regularly and they get great bargains on furniture, housewares and clothes.  These colleagues also like to entertain a lot and they have a lot of great items for entertaining.

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by: JT

Sat Jul 10 21:26:44 2010

There are still great items to be found at weekend yard sales, but I find you have to show up at 6 am or so for a 7 am sale or you're out of luck on the good stuff. Even if a yardsale listing on Craigslist says "no early birds" people still sweet talk sellers into selling to them early.

And get this: I went to a yard sale last weekend and overheard a woman asking if the seller would take $1 for a $5 item. She said it was for a poor relative. I recognized her as the same woman who had an upscale yard sale at her multi-million-dollar mansion a few weeks earlier!

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by: ken

Sun Jul 11 02:51:30 2010

obviously the easier access to information has changed pricing strategies for many people, however I think the MAIN influence in yard sales is:

#1. Reason for selling [to make money OR to get rid of items before a move]
#2. Local economy, ie how much money will buyers have to spend
#3. Location high traffic or low traffic.

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by: Terri

Sun Jul 11 06:45:42 2010

It use to be fun going around my area (PA) on Friday and Saturday mornings to pick up goodies to re-sell on ebay, but JD took the fun out of that too.
And whoever it is that says ''why does the topic always get turned back to talking about ebay'', I say to you ''GO POUND DIRT''!!

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by: c-joe
Web Site

Sun Jul 11 08:31:22 2010

Grandpa's attic ain't the same attic it was years ago. It's now my attic.

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by: Jumpin Jimmy Jackson

Sun Jul 11 09:08:12 2010

There's still good stuff- but too many dealers hit them early and the first few people there clean it out immediately of EVERYTHING cheap/good. So if you arrive say 15 minutes after they started, it is already too late, and it appears to be a ''dog''. So you only get to choose one or two sales around here, because anything later than right after it starts = extremely unlikely to have anything good at it left. I think that's the #1 reason. 20 years ago, there was no ebay, no CL, no Roadshow, etc etc, so far fewer serious buyers back then. Sad, but that's what's happened- the public is far better educated now about values.

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by: Hilary

Sun Jul 11 09:12:35 2010

In Orange City, Florida and surrounding areas like Daytona, Deland, Debary, etc., we continue to have great sales.  In fact, between the thrift stores and estate sales, I haven't been using up gas to go to yard/garage sales as I find enough items for resale via those 2 venues.  Also, it's sooooo hot right now so the cooler the better :-). I'm actually seeing dip in asking prices at estate sales but some of the thrift stores are raising prices.  In any event, both are still serving me well.

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by: Terri

Sun Jul 11 09:23:48 2010

Or is it "Go Pound Sand"?
Either way, just do it, please!

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by: On Lies and Secrets This user has validated their user name.

Sun Jul 11 11:34:59 2010

I think a factor that may impact the quality of items offered in yard sales in some areas may be Craigslist.  Although I don't frequent yard sales, I do check a few CL categories almost every day and I have purchased some great stuff through CL.  If you have a few nice, well-priced items that are worth the hassles of CL and you are reasonably computer savvy, then CL can be a great way to sell things quickly rather than a yard sale.  I think there are a number of people in my neighborhood are not online, so there are still plenty of yard sales.  

There may be a socio-cultural aspect to yard sales in my neighborhood.  I think some people seem to have a sale every year, so it may be a tradition for some as part of regular spring cleaning.  Others seem to have them in order to socialize more than to sell - there are some lovely victorians and bungalows (some with nice gardens) and when there is a yard sale at one of the larger victorian houses, there always seems to be a big crowd there.  I have been tempted to stop at one of these myself to compliment the homeowner on the beauty of their homes. I haven't lived here an eternity, but I think there is just a tradition of holding yard sales during the summer and the sales seem to serve both economic and social ends.

Just for fun - here is a link to a photo archive of humorous/creative yard sale signs:

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by: unusual1 This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Sun Jul 11 13:59:07 2010

When I lived in LI NY I always went to sales - years ago. I would call some of the "pros" to find out if I should come early - they knew what I bought, sometimes yes and sometimes no. I did appraisals for the ones that really wanted to know what they were selling.
Over the years I got some really great stuff, for sale and for myself.
Since I live in NC I wouldn't waste the time and gas to go to any sale. Even the "better" resale and antique shops are very poor to useless, Craigslist is the same. In 18 months I have bought 5 low end items that I hoped would pay the gas for the trip.
Garage sale finds are now in antique malls that are online. I don't think ebays collapse will help much - the scene has changed.

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by: Birdie Newborn
Web Site

Sun Jul 11 14:40:00 2010

Books are usually the last item mentioned (if at all) for yard sales, but can be a treasure. People have no idea how to price books, way too high, way low. The best is estate sales -- all this old stuff to get rid of.

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