On Monday, I shared some tips for hosting a good garage sale. Most of those came from my experience as a garage sale shopper. While hosting our garage sale a few weeks ago (my experience as a garage sale seller), I also picked up a few tips for how to be a good garage sale shopper. So here they are…

My Top 10 Tips for Garage Sale Shopping:

10. Don’t forget to bring cash. No credit cards or checks in this business, just an exchange of good ole fashioned paper money and coins.

9. If you are looking for a certain something…ask. One woman who came to our garage sale was in the market for a George Foreman grill. We didn’t have one set out, so if she had not asked, she would not have found. However, we did have one and it should have been on our sale (I can’t remember EVER using it, and in fact didn’t remember that we had it until my husband responded “YES, in fact we do, let me get it for you…”) She got her George Foreman and we got some cleared cupboard space and a few bucks.

8. Suggest a lower price. As sellers, we accepted most reasonable offers…or at least settled at a “meet in the middle” price. As a general rule, I think it is fair to offer about 75% of the labeled price on an item, but not much less.

7. Suggest lower prices on “bundles”…for example, you might ask “Would you take $12 for all of this?” on a bunch of small items that may have added up to well over $15. Sellers are more likely to accept such offers on items with “firmer” prices than they would be if you try to haggle each individual price.

6. Be respectful. Remember that the items you are browsing through are someone’s personal possessions. They might still have value to the seller even if he or she has decided to part with it. When suggesting a lower price say “Will you take __ for ____.” You don’t have to and shouldn’t point out that ___ is a piece of crap and only worth ___ before offering a lower price.

5. Have kids buy and/or bargain for what they want. Not only is this a great learning oppotrunity for them…most normal people have a soft spot inside for children and will accept a lower price. (Please don’t take this the wrong way as me suggesting that you use your chidren to get a better deal on a blender or coffee pot. But let them make the deals for their own purchases of dolls or toys.)

4. Go with the flow. It is fine to search craigslist and ads for where neighborhood sales are, especially if you are in the market for something in particular (i.e. baby items or tools)…but don’t have too much of a strict game plan for your shopping. Just start driving and turn when you see a sign.

3. Bring a drink. As a garage sale shopper, I LOVE to take advantage of the lemonade stands that often accompany garage sales…but you don’t always come across them. You don’t want to have to call it quits early because you are thirsty…

2. Start early. I’d say our inventory was decreased by about a third after the first 2 hours of our sale Friday morning. There are still many treasures to find later in the day…and sellers are more willing to cut a deal on the last day of their sale…but if it is options and inventory you are looking for, you’ll want to head out the door first thing in the morning.

1. And the number one tip for garage sale shopping: think outside  the box. Look for ways to take other people’s “junk” and turn it into a special new treasure! If you aske me, this is what garage sale shopping is all about!

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