yard sales { how to be successful as a buyer at a yard sale}

Somehow, I found myself diving into a thrifting series. I started with how to shop a thrift store. It just sort of happened as a response to questions from a few readers as well as the fact that my Crackle Tex video has been put on hold for a little bit at the request of my rep. She is contacting the makers to see if there is anything else we need to know about the product before proceeding. We all want to know everything we can about it, including me! So bear with me, it will come at some point. I am also kind of in a holding pattern waiting on my milk paint. I have some projects that I have specifically held out so that I can use those products. Exciting stuff around the bend!

Several people have asked me to do a post on how to be successful at a garage sale, yard sale, tag sale or whatever a good junk sale is called in your neck of the woods. This series is also timely because we are about to head out to experience The Longest Yard sale, starting in my home state, Alabama. We are not going all the way to Michigan but we will see how far into Tennessee we can go in a day or two. I wish my mom and sister could go with us. They are my yard sale buds. Mom got stuck house sitting for me and taking care of the dog. I’ll have to find them a prize.

I’ve been going to yard sales since I was a little girl. My mom was an antique dealer and a thrifter, still is. Again, I don’t think this is rocket science, being successful is just being armed with the right tools and being at the right place at the right time. I have put together a list of the top six things that we do to ensure the most pleasant garage sale experience. HA! So here we go:

  1. Decide what area of town you want to concentrate in. Narrow it down to only two. You may or may not have time for more. We have two areas that we gravitate to because we have learned they have better stuff and great deals. This takes some trial and error, but believe me, you will figure it out quickly.
  2. Check your local paper and craigslist the night before to find yard sales in the areas you have decided to concentrate on and start jotting down addresses. Don’t leave the house without your GPS! Ours is our best friend. We call her Diana because she speaks in such a lovely British accent. We would be lost without her. Aw… isn’t that sweet.
  3. Make sure you have plenty of cash. No one, unless they are abnormally trusting, will take your check. You also want to make sure you have negotiating power. Don’t walk into a yard sale, haggle a price with a one hundred-dollar bill in your hand and expect to get very far. Try and take 20’s 10’s 5’s and 1’s. Heck, I even take a giant change purse with all of my spare change in it. You would be amazed at what a dime will buy you at a yard sale.
  4. Leave at the break of dawn. Not kidding here, well maybe not that early, but at least by 6:30 am or so. Most sales start at 7 am. Dealers and serious thrifters are there before the sales even start, looking for the best deals. Some people have no manners at all and will actually knock on a seller’s door hours before a sale starts to see if they can get in early. I do not do this but it has happened to me. I was having a garage sale at my house, I was still in bed, the baby was sleeping and someone rang my door bell! That is just rude, but it happens. We always say that most of the good stuff is gone by 9 am if not before. I can usually get back to the house before the little people even start moving around here.
  5. Don’t be afraid to haggle. Most sellers are willing to come off their price, a lot of times by half. Start out asking for half off. You may get it or they may meet you in the middle. It is very rare that a seller will not negotiate some way with you.
  6. Don’t go out looking for something specific. You won’t find it. Instead, look for things that you love. My house has a collected feel. Sometimes I find things at garage sales that I didn’t even know that I needed, but I did. If you LOVE it buy it. It will find a home somewhere. I also ALWAYS keep my collections in the back of my mind. I am always looking for mulberry transfer ware, brown and white transfer ware, silver, ironstone and white pottery. Some of my collections are in the photos below, all of which came from yard sales. You better believe I will be looking for these things at The Longest Yard sale this week! I can’t wait!




So here is another question for you seasoned yard sale people. What are your tips? I am by no means an expert, I’ve just enjoyed yard sales for a long time. I am sure there is something you can teach me. I want the comment section to be a wealth of information for people who are just getting started as well as those like me who have been doing this for years. I know you have something to say! Spill it! Happy Garage Sale shopping!


  1. My husband and I are also going on the 127. We went today and found some pretty good stuff and will go tomorrow and Saturday. It is unbearably hot. Be sure to take your sunscreen and happy shopping! Don’t buy all the good stuff before I get there!

  2. I like your article. You make good points. But I’d like to make one point that took me many years to learn: if you are thinking of buying something that will end up in a yard sale in your own lifetime, be sure you think twice before you lug it home. When the fad or fashion passes, will you keep it around? (Whatever ‘it’ might be.)

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