This post is part of 31 day series – 31 days to decorate your home on a budget. You can catch up on all the posts in this series here.
Shopping yard sales is probably the cheapest and also the easiest way to find a good amount of home décor stuff for cheap.
Here’s some of my yard sale secrets, methods for finding the good buys, and how you can too!
How to find yard sales in your area
First, let me say, I am not an expert and definitely not even close to the best yard sale shopper out there. I don’t sit down Friday night (or Thursday night for Friday sales) with the newspaper or Craigslist and plan my route for Saturday morning (although that method works very well for others.) I also am not out at yard sales at 6 am on Saturday (see I am breaking all the rules, there should be plenty for you to grab up before I even get there! )
I find that you really need to know your area, the economy of your town, etc. to know what yard sale methods will work for you. Does your town have lots of Thursday, Friday, Saturday sales or just Saturday sales? Do lots of people advertise their yard sale on Craigslist, etc.? When you go out shopping at a yard sale at 7 am, are you the only one there or are you joined by a decent crowd? In our area, we don’t seem have that 6 am yard sale crowd. When I have had my own yard sale, I normally didn’t get my first customer until after 8:30 am. I also usually sell much more on Friday than Saturday when I have a 2-day yard sale.
All that said, here is my current yard sale routine! (And it works well for me right now in this area.) We have a large antique shop that rents out their parking lot every Saturday ($10/parking space) and it is packed EVERY Saturday all year long! (I live in GA, so there are only about 8 –12 weeks of the year when the weather is extremely cold and not conducive to yard sales.) I am talking 40-50 different “yard sales” set up in parking spaces all throughout the parking lot. (If you can find some type of sale like this where you live – you have hit the jackpot!) I browse through the parking lot, shopping each individual’s spot/sale stuff, and usually finding some very cheap stuff. My favorite parking lot space to visit is a church/ministry that is there every Saturday raising money for missions trips and sells everything in their space for 25¢ Then I usually go grocery shopping and head home stopping at any individual yard sales that I see on the way home. I try to do this almost every Saturday. You are going to have to be a frequent yard sale shopper to get the good deals!
What should you be looking for at yard sales?
All depends on what you need or want! When it comes to home stuff, I do have a list of things I am looking for that I carry in my purse (measurements of my windows for blinds or curtains, furniture measurements, other specific items I am looking for.) And I also carry a small tape measure in my purse too.
Other than that, I read a lot of other home décor blogs (that help inspire me), look at home décor magazines, and pay attention when I am in department stores to some of the popular décor trends or items I see that I like. So I already have a mental picture of some styles I like and items I would like to find so when I see it a yard sale for “x” price, I already know that I want it, have an idea of what I would do with it, and know that price is good!
If you don’t get anything from this post except this, please get this!
DON’T buy it unless #1 – you absolutely love it, and #2 – you know exactly where it is going to go or what you will do with it.
Just because that pretty little trinket is 50¢, if you don’t LOVE it and if you don’t have a place for it, it is NOT a good deal. (And it will probably end up back in your yard sale later!)
How to get the best price (and is it ok to negotiate?)
I would love to know what you think about this in the comments, but here is my thoughts. Yes, it is ok to negotiate to a degree. A friend and I recently had this discussion – she was offering some items up for sale and someone offered her almost half of what she was asking – she was a little taken back and even offended! And I probably would have been too! Then I thought, do I do the same to others when I am negotiating prices at a yard sales? The Golden Rule might be a good thing to remember – if you wouldn’t appreciate someone offering you $2 for the item you have tagged for $10, the seller probably won’t appreciate it either! A more reasonable offer on a $10 price tag would be $6 –$8.
Probably one of the best ways to negotiate a price is this – ask the seller the price, ponder the item/look interested in it for a moment, and then put it DOWN and WALK AWAY! (Don’t do this at a crowded sale or you might lose your item!) More often than not, the seller will say something like “Would you buy it for $5 instead of $8?” and you haven’t said a word except asked the price!
Recently, I was at a yard sale and saw a Princess House Fantasia pitcher (retails for $50+), I asked the price and he said $5. I was more than happy to pay the $5 and fully intended to buy it. But I set it down so I could look at some other glassware he had for sale, and he quickly yelled out, “I’ll take $3 for the pitcher.” I walked away with a smile on my face and a $3 glass pitcher.
Some people will also say to wait later in the day or towards the end of the sale to get the best deal (they will want that item gone and be willing to practically give it away!)
See past the ugly, and imagine the potential.
One more tip: look past the color or the condition of the item because some of those things can be changed. Learn to see the diamond in the rough!
Here’s some examples:
Dirty plate with nasty old ribbon – bought for 50¢…
becomes a cute message board (after a hot, soapy bath and new ribbon!)
And you saw this mirror transformation in my fall mantel post.
Brassy mirror bought for $8 at a yard sale…
becomes a modern, beautiful, white mirror!
And just for fun, I walked around our house and snapped pictures of things in our house I have gotten at yard sales. I also added the price that I paid as best as I can remember.
And here are two furniture pieces I bought at my favorite yard sale:
Small chest used as buffet in my dining room – paid $20
and coffee table that I refinished – paid $3.00!
And that is just a few items, I have many more yard sale treasures all throughout our home!
So, who is ready to go to yardsaling with me?
I would love to hear your tips for shopping at yard sales!
Do you find lots of good deals in your area? Do you have to hit the sales at 7 am to get anything good? And what are some of your favorite finds?