|Tue Apr 3 2012 12:32:08|
Top Five Tips for Getting the Most Out of Yard Sale Season
By: Julia Wilkinson
The weather's warming up - freakishly warm in some parts of the country. It's getting to be the time of year for yard sale, garage sale, and flea market junkies to start making their weekend rounds.
Here is a roundup of what I've learned in over 15 years of yard sale-ing, as well as tips from other experts and readers.
1) It's Better to Be Early But You Can Find Good Stuff Later Too.
The conventional wisdom is, the early bird gets the worm. And that is to a large extent true. If you can, get there as close to the beginning of the sales as you can; a lot of the (most obvious) good stuff will sell early.
But does this mean it is not worth going later in the day? Not at all! For a few reasons:
Not everyone takes the time to look through boxes, under tables, or even closely at stuff that's prominently displayed on tables.
I straggled in around 10 am to one yard sale where there were many boxes of books, most of them current, beat-up children's books like newer Dr. Seuesses. Well, in one of those many boxes was a copy of "The Little Prince," the 1943 French edition, which I later learned is especially prized by collectors because it was the edition the author, Antoine St. Exupery, had in his pocket when his plane tragically disappeared over the Mediterranean in 1944.
It wound up selling for over $400 in a fierce bidding war on eBay.
2) Negotiate Bulk Deals Late in the Day
Later in the Day strategies: There can be some definite benefits to going near the *end* of the sale. Sellers are eager to rid of anything and everything and much more willing to barter, even make bulk deals. For example, offer a low but reasonable price for all the vinyl albums left at a sale. No need to look up their prices, vet them once you get home and donate the ones that aren't worth it.
3) How to Get "First Dibs" even When You're Not First
Here's an old yard saler's trick; this one has actually worked for me accidentally several times. Simply ask the people running the sale if they have what you are looking for inside, that they maybe hadn't thought about putting out.
"Do you have any stamps/coins/books/old vinyl albums/etc/ inside that you'd be willing to sell?"
I was once asking a seller about the books he had out, and he mentioned to me that he had a bunch more inside and I was welcome to look at them. I came across the mother lode of Sherlock Holmes books in his inside library; a whole collection.
4) The Best Places to Find Sales.
The main place people look these days is on Craigslist. One of the best sites for estate sales is now http://www.estatesales.net/. Also, you should try to get on the mailing list of any estate sale companies in your area, so you get email notification of upcoming sales.
Tip: Unadvertised sales can be the best! Look for them when you're out; they're the ones you stumble upon and the teeming masses have not heard about them. Sometimes they're the ones piggybacking next to the advertised sales.
5) What Supplies to Bring
Michelle Staley, writing for Worthpoint, suggests that "a few of the necessities are sunscreen, comfortable shoes, a small cooler filled with bottles of water, a couple of granola or protein bars and a folding shopping cart. Oh, and cash!"
I also like to bring many canvas or fabric tote bags (alternative to the folding shopping cart; personally I find I can move about more nimbly with the bags).
Bring some folded newspaper and plastic grocery bags to wrap and protect your finds should the sellers not have any on hand. (A current newspaper is also handy to keep busy if you have a long wait before an estate sale opens).
If you are traveling any distance to a weekend flea market or antique show, Staley advises, "Be sure to get a hotel reservation in advance. You probably aren't the only one coming in from out of town to attend the event. Get out and shop for a few hours, but be sure to leave some time to visit the local antique shops."
She says Saturday is your best bet for finding shops open, especially in small towns, as some stores are closed on Sunday and Monday. You can then get up early the next morning and go back out to the event."
What are your tips for successful hunting trips?