People shop at yard sales for different reasons. Many shop for bargains, while some shop for resale items, and some lonely people just go to be around people and talk. I’ve always loved a good yard sale. Several years ago at a yard sale, I found an interesting plate unlike any I had ever seen. At the time I was itching to try selling something on Ebay, so I researched everything I could about the plate and put it out for bid. To my amazement, the plate I had paid $.25 for sold for a little over $25.00 to a lady in California. I was hooked.
I began hitting yard sales all around and in the process learned a great many things that may help others be a better yard sale shopper. Of course, I wouldn’t even deem myself in the same category with some yard shoppers I know. They’re remind me of seven women in a department after the last pair of Queen size pantyhose. I would like to share some ideas with you to help you to plan your strategy, whether you’re looking to buy items for yourself or for resale.
First, know your neighborhoods. Even though I live in a small town, we also experienced a boom during the building era several years ago, and I found that a lot of the new subdivisions had street names with which I was not familiar. Silly things like Shirley Avenue or Harry Avenue. In addition, names of all county roads were changed to numbers to identify 911 locations, so I couldn’t go by the familiar names I had known like Tubby Road or Airport Boulevard.
Get a map of your city and county. Then familiarize yourself with the different streets, especially those smaller streets in communities and subdivisions. Your local Chamber of Commerce or Tourism Office should have one available.
The night before your expedition into yard sale mania, get a copy of the local paper and circle the ads or make a list of the addresses you intend to visit and plot your route. One thing about living in a smaller area, you may be able to visit the majority of the yard sales, but in a larger area, you may want to confine your shopping to a more specified area. The primary thing is that you don’t want to waste a lot of time and gas backtracking your route.
In my case, I was looking for resale items and unusual items, so I avoided the newer subdivisions and places where I knew the yard sale items would be more contemporary. My experience on Ebay showed me that I could more easily sell the antiques, collectibles, etc., so I was always looking for old jewelry, dishes, souvenirs, books, etc.
When I was plotting my route, I would go to the yard sales farther out of town, because I found that most people would hit center of town first. Many times, I would luck out and find a family cleaning out an old shed or an older home where an elderly person had left and the family were getting rid of some of the older items. I once bought a set of six crystal, gold-rimmed goblets for $2.00, which I did keep these; a package of Disney character stickers once packaged as collectibles in loaves of bread, for which I paid $1.25 and sold for $125.00; Noritake and Lennox china pieces for $.25; and one of my favorites, an unmarked black vase with a lily decoration I purchased for $1.00 that went for $55. But just to show you some of the oddities people are searching for, I sold a record album of Jeff Chandler, the movie actor, singing. I paid about $.25 for it, and it went for $24.00. I guess they still had a turntable. So for those of you interested in supplementing your income this way, yard sales can be an exciting adventure.
Notes on the above: Yard sale shoppers are early morning people. I usually started out around 5:30 a.m every Saturday morning. And secondly, I find boxes full of odds and ends are usually a great buy. Many times if you make an offer, you can buy the entire box, and it will usually contain a treasure. If you only pay a few dollars for the entire box of contents and sell one item, you’ll make a nice profit, but more often that not, I found several items that was on someone’s collectible list.
Yard sales in more affluent neighborhoods or newer subdivisions are also a great place to get bargains for your own use. Since babies and young children don’t wear their clothes very long, and people love to give newborns wardrobes full of cute, little frilly things, parents can really clean up. Also, baby equipment such as carriers, strollers, high chairs, etc., are very common sitting in the hub.
I also bought many types of exercise equipment in almost new condition at a much reduced price than retail. What I discovered was that many people would buy an expensive piece of equipment, only to find they didn’t use it as much as they thought, or it took up too much room in their home, or let’s face it, they’re not as young as they thought they were.
Household appliances, dishware and linens are just some of the many available items you can easily find. Why, heck, I’ve already told you Tupperware will outlive us all. Many people replace these items on a regular basis or purchase new when they redecorate.
Although yard sales are a great place to find things that you are needing for whatever reason, remember one other thing: Know how much money you’re able to spend and always carry cash to a yard sale. Smaller denominations are very handy, and even change comes in handy because so many things are under a dollar. My only other recommendation is that you visit yard sales in a large enough vehicle to be able to transport it home. Although many people will hold an item for you to return, it’s not something I would recommend.
So set that alarm, get out there and start shopping, and good luck.