Tips from some yard sale shopping pros {How to shop yard sales series}

how to shop yard sales button

When I started thinking about this series, I thought that it would be good at the end to share some tips from others that shop yard sales.  Of course I immediately thought of these three people who I think of as yard sale shopping pros! Smile

Rhoda, from Southern Hospitality, has been shopping yard sales and thrift stores for years! I got to meet her last year at the “I love thrifting” party here in Atlanta and had a blast shopping some thrifty stores in her area.  She does a great job at finding some gorgeous antique pieces for pennies at yard sales.

rhoda yard sale

Like this antique pie crust table she bought at a yard sale. She paid $75 but it is worth 3-4 times that much.

I loved this wall of plates she created in her old house out of plates she found while yard sale and thrift store shopping.

Also, Rhoda hosts a Thrifty Treasures party every Monday throughout yard sale season where you can link up your finds and she shares some of her finds or some features from the last week’s party. Check out some of the fun finds people are linking up!

SouthernHospThriftyTreasures copy_thumb

Laine, from It’s Just Laine, is another friend of mine from college who I have reconnected with through blogging.  She is a big yard sale shopper and the prices she pays things for AMAZE me! Smile

laine yard sale

Here are some of her finds:

This huge frame that she picked up for $1.00 at a yard sale


– and this is what she did with it!  She created and printed her own personal family version of family rules and framed it!


Matching lampshades for her white lamps (also a yard sale find) – $3.50 each.  It was these very lamps (and her post on patience and waiting for the perfect thing in your price range) that had me looking for a white lamp.  And I found one for $2.00 for my dining room!

And I couldn’t leave out her red coffee table!  A $10 yard sale find… BUT the best part is what is inside!  You’ll have to click over and see!

Molly, from Pennies ‘N Grace, and I met because our husbands were roommates during college.  We had so much in common and became instant friends.  She started shopping yard sales as a child with her family and then when she was in college starting picking up things for her future home. Her prices and bargaining skills amaze me!

molly yard sale

She got this antique ladder for 50¢.

The rod iron décor she has on her piano she got for $2.00!  She has seen them for sale at a local antique store for $120.

So on to their tips…  I asked each of them 10 questions so I will just let them answer away.  I really enjoyed reading through their answers and learned a good bit!  I hope you do too.

1. When did you begin shopping yard sales?

RhodaI’ve been shopping yard sales for 15-20 years and loved the bargains I found out there.  I figured why would I want to pay full price when there are perfectly good items out there that I could bring home and give new life.

Lainein 2008, so for the last 4 years or so.

MollyWhen I was 5! Yup, you got it, 5 years of age. I have sweet memories of all six of us (at the time) piling into our old station wagon clutching our fistful of coins for our weekend adventure! My momma always made yard sale shopping so much fun and she started teaching us early that God could and would answer our prayers for needs and wants. I remember the first thing I purchased at a yard sale—a pretty pink little purse and I bartered the lady down to 10 cents! It was such an accomplishment and instilled in me a desire to be frugal with my money and get quality things in return. I was always called “banana eyes” because I would spot yard sale signs seemingly miles ahead! Alas, the memories are endless. But, I think I answered the question accurately—I have been yard sale shopping for 25 years!

2. Why do you shop yard sales?

RhodaPaying retail has never been fun to me and I found so many great items at yard sale at a fraction of the retail price, so it became addicting.  I found all sorts of name brands and beautiful accessories and couldn’t get enough of shopping that way.  Going back to the mall was not something I wanted to do anymore and now I despise the mall.

LaineIt’s fun! While I do enjoy the bargain hunting and bartering, it’s mostly so I can decorate my home or find things we need at a fraction of the cost.  Also, it’s where 90% of my children’s clothes come from!

Molly – I HATE spending lots of money on one thing! I have never been a mall shopper, but I know that that is the case because of yard sales from a young age. I realize I can get the name brand items, gorgeous furniture, and in date and in style clothing and décor for pennies in comparison to the mall or other department stores. That does not mean I never hit the mall or buy brand new, but it is VERY seldom! I think one of the biggest reasons is looking at all God has provided through yard sales. It is fun to look through my home and point out just about everything and say, “Wow, I found that for a quarter at a yard sale, or that’s from Goodwill.” You can furnish your home beautifully by shopping from other people’s junk! I promise!

3. Where and how do you find yard sales?

RhodaI have always checked my local paper’s classified ads.  Usually on Thursday, they will have a whole list of sales starting Friday and Saturday, so that’s how I found them for the most part.  The neighborhood sales are my fave, because you can drive through them and hit a lot at once.

LaineI look on Craigslist, but also where I live there’s a main road where all the neighborhoods and smaller roads branch off of.  Typically people put signs all up and down this road.

MollyHonestly, I love to just jump in the van and drive around looking for signs. I guess that’s the little girl in me, because my momma used to play a game with us. 25 years ago there weren’t long list of yard sales in the paper, craigslist, or computer listings. You just drove around and spotted the big bright signs and fun balloons! However, this day in age, I often sit down and type in local communities into Craigslist or the city papers looking for any jackpot classifieds for yard sales. Often if something is listed for a few weeks out and it has something listed that I am specifically looking for I calendar it, so I don’t forget. Church yard sales are big on that list! They tend to have tons of stuff and for reasonable prices!

4. When do you shop? Every Saturday? Once a month? Thursdays or Fridays? Do you find it better go early for the best selection or later in the day for the cheaper prices/make a deal bargains?

RhodaI’m an "early bird gets the worm" kind of girl.  If you don’t go really early, you’ll miss out on the best stuff.  The prime things are snapped up pretty quickly, I have found over the years.  I will sometimes go on Friday if a sale looks promising, but most of the time Saturday a.m.’s are the best time, since most people do them that day.  Sometimes if you do go later in the day, you might luck out and find something good left behind that you can then bargain for. By then, the homeowners just want it gone! I used to go every weekend to yard sales,but since I’ve been in transition for awhile, I have had to curtail my yard sale shopping until I get in my house and know what I need.

LaineOn most Saturday mornings, I sneak out of the house at around 6:45. This is a more rural area so yard sales are really popular.  And I definitely find that the earlier you go, the better.  Most folks around here are happy to bargain!  Although, if there’s anything left at the end of the day, they will let it go for pretty cheap or even free.

MollyI cannot say I shop every Saturday, but I come pretty close to that! When I lived up north Thursdays were the best day to go and the best day to have a yard sale! However, I have had to change my ways quite a bit since moving down South! People do yard sales weird around here. Typically it is just from 7 until noon every Saturday morning. I couldn’t believe it and it took some getting used to for sure! Up North I could go out at 6 am and yard sale until 6 at night! So, adapting your yard sale plans may be needed to get the best stuff. Here in the sunny South, I find it profitable to go either early or around 11 am. I like to get out early just to find the best stuff, but sometimes people want rid of things faster right before closing up. I am a HUGE bargainer so I typically don’t let wee morning hours scare me in the bargaining department.

5. If you have kids do you leave them at home or take them with you? What are some tips you can share for moms shopping with young kids?

Rhoda – I see a lot of moms taking their kids with them.  I don’t have kids myself.  I think a lot of kids enjoy shopping and if they get 50 cents or a $1 to spend, that makes them happy too.  And it teaches kids that shopping 2nd hand is fun and makes your money go further.

LaineI usually always take my oldest daughter with me (she’s eight) and we always have a good time.  It’s been a good learning experience for her…when she first began to go with me she was way too anxious to spend her money, even it was something broken and junky!  But now, after a couple of years of going with me, she’s really changed!  Now she’ll look at something really nice that’s marked for $1 and say, "Hmmm…I wonder if they’ll take 50 cents?" Lol!  Or she’ll see something she likes brand new in a store and say, "That’s SO expensive, Mom!  I could probably find that at a yard sale for a quarter!"  =D

MollyI take them with me most of the times! The night before we usually set their clothes out and they are able to count out a few dollars of coins from their piggy banks. I often set the limit to $2-3 just so they aren’t spending a huge amount each time. Plus, I have found that they do better with what they have if they do not have tons to spend. They each put their name on a ziploc bag and they are ready to go the next morning.

Help them write a list. This may seem insignificant to some, but I have found that helping them look around and narrow down their wants or needs and jotting them on paper will help them look better and not waste their pennies on something they really didn’t want or need. Things we have prayed for are a big must on the list. We had prayed for a few long summery dresses for Chloe and just a few weekends ago she saw God specifically provide for that need/want. She even got to chose from an assortment of adorable dresses. She ended up picking a pretty red one and a yellow and black flower one.

Pack snacks and drinks!!! You don’t want to spend a ton of your yard sale money halfway through your adventure at a convenience store or fast food to appease starving little ones. I typically grab them their big water bottles, a few random snacks and a sweet treat for a reward half way through! Sometimes we enjoy packing a cooler with a picnic lunch and hit the park after our yard sale adventures.

Take turns getting out! I know, in some situations this is not practical, but you have to decide what works and is best for you. We like to allow one child to go in at each yard sale. Unless mommy notices it is a jackpot of toys or other things on multiple children’s lists. I am a fast shopper! I hate looking at everything at a yard sale and typically run in and run out! Spending too much time at one is losing time at another and may end up costing me some great finds. So, instead of hoisting 3 little ones out of the van every time, they take turns. This way too they are keeping their eyes peeled for signs and are super excited when it is their turn. Sometimes you have to change it up a bit due to dud yard sales etc. One might ask, “what do you do with the other kids?” Leave them in the van! If the yard sale allows to pull into the driveway it is best, but I am careful no matter what! Keep the windows open, music on, etc. And, remember, if you are a forever looker than this tip is NOT an option for you. If I am going to look through piles of baby clothes, the kids all get out with me.

I am so thankful for a mommy who made yard sales an adventure and a day of fun for us when we were kids. My little ones LOVE to yard sale and look forward to it! I hope you can develop some fun things that contribute to your children loving it too.

Lastly, pray with your kids!! Help them realize that our needs and wants can be answered specifically by an Almighty God. I LOVE it when my son looks at me after-wards and says, “Mommy, I prayed that God would help me find that! Look, He answered!” That is what it is about! It is crucial to praise the Lord together after-wards on His provision too even if He didn’t allow you to find everything you wanted!

6. Do you prepare beforehand and how? Have lots of $1 bills, quarters, bring a list of things you are looking for, measurements of furniture, paint colors, material colors?

RhodaIf I’m looking for something in particular, I will write down measurements. I used to have a running list in my  head that I was looking for and about 99% of the time, if I was patient and waited it out, I would find it. Amazing how that happens!   I do try to take plenty of money(any bills are fine, they usually have change), but have been known to head out the door with only a couple of dollars.  I have written many checks at yard sales too, they will take those if you are local most of the time.

LaineI try to keep $1 bills on me and a bunch of quarters and dimes.  Ever haggled something down for cheap and then had to have them make change for you?  Yeah, SO embarrassing, lol!  So keeping small amounts is the way to go.  Also helps when you can walk up to someone with the money the money in hand and say, "Would you take "X amount" for that?"  They will almost always say yes when they see money in front of them, lol!

MollyYes! I love to have rolls of quarters ready and small bills. Honestly, you can bargain better if you do not have 5’s and 10’s. I do have lists sometimes, but lately I have key things I am looking for and nothing else. So, I do better then at not spending money on something that looks cool when I really don’t need it. I love to bring my measuring tape and measurements of closets, furniture needs, dress length and whatever else!

7. What is your favorite thing to look for at yard sales?

RhodaAnything and everything!  I love smaller pieces of furniture that I can repaint and repurpose and I’ve bought many side tables and chairs this way.  I love finding name brand clothes and accessories at yard sales too.  Also, jewelry is fun and about half my costume jewelry is from yard sales for just pennies.

LaineKids clothes, clothes for myself, home stuff.  Anything really!! =)  You just never know what you’ll find!

MollyThis is a hard question!! EVERYTHING! I really love to find clothes at yard sales. Last summer I purchased all 3 of our children’s fall and this summer’s wardrobe at yard sales! It was especially nice when I grabbed the bins out of the attic for summer and started pulling out gorgeous stuff that I’d forgotten about! And, the best part of it, most of the items I paid no more than 50 cents for!

8. What is your worst yard sale experience? Maybe crazy high prices or scary people?

RhodaI haven’t had any really crazy yard sale experiences.  Some folks do think highly of their treasures and want to charge a fortune for it, so I will usually politely look and walk away empty handed.

LaineWorst yard sale experience:  Went to this driveway yard sale hugely preggo with Lucy and right there was a box FULL of vintage turquoise mason jars, quart AND half gallon size, marked for 50 cents or $1 a piece.  I thought I was  going to faint!! ( I had been searching for them for years!!)  So I’m picking some out and then this very large man walks up, who I didn’t even see anywhere when I got there, and goes "Those are mine."  I was like "What??"  And he said, "Yeah, those are mine already."  I seriously couldn’t believe it. The sale had just begun, I was like the first person there, or so I thought) and these were already gone. (I understand the whole "That’s my pile" rule in yardsaling, but he wasn’t even near it, it was literally just the box that they were being sold in.)  This was a rare time when my hubby was with me (well, he was waiting in the van) and as we were driving away I started telling him what happened and he had seen the man and he goes, "What?  That man pulled up after us and walked up while you were looking!"   Uggh…  I know it’s just turquoise mason jars, but I seriously cried because I had been looking for them for so long and then that happened.  {Sigh.}  Maybe one day I’ll find some more! 

Craziest experience: I don’t know, I’ve had a few, but probably when this weird older guy walks up to me while I’m browsing a yard sale and goes, "Hey, I’ve got the perfect thing for you" and proceeds to lead me over to this rack of clothes and shows me some very skimpy pajamas {ahem} and says, "I’ll let you have these for $2!"  I’m thinking "AAAAHHHH!!!!  I’m leaving ASAP!!!"

MollyMy worst yard sale experience was shopping with friends knowing that several things on my list was on theirs too! It just adds extra pressure! ): And, I am one who hates shopping with people and they are not finding anything and I am! I mean it’s fun for me to find stuff, but I want everyone to have a good time.

9. My #1 yard sale shopping tip…

RhodaGo early, truly the best stuff is found very early in the a.m.

LaineBe sweet and smile.=)  (We are to be a testimony for Christ wherever we go, even yardsaling! It’s not worth risking His reputation for a better deal!!)  I think after that it would be not to be afraid to ask how much something costs.  I know one time I saw something at a yard sale (something normally VERY expensive.)  I only had a few dollars with me so I didn’t even bother because I figured it would be too much.  Well then about a minute later a lady asked how much they wanted for it and the lady said $3. It was something we needed and I seriously could have kicked myself for not asking. To sum up I’d say, be sweet and smile, and don’t be afraid to ask the price!

Molly – 1. Don’t be scared to barter!! Don’t be rude, but know what you want and what you will pay for something! (my momma taught me this one and it has come in handy everywhere!)

2. Be patient!!  Remember that shopping at yard sales requires patience and prayer! You won’t walk away with something from every yard sale or even every time you go, but remember the money you are saving and think what you could have bought at the mall with that quarter—gum from gumball machine!

3. Ask for their phone number! If there are tons of things at a particular yard sale and you don’t have the money, time, or info to purchase it then, take their number and then call them later! I have gotten many treasures this way and for really cheap. I recently was able to go back to a sale after I found out I was expecting a baby girl to purchase tons of beautiful baby clothes for 50¢ each because I asked for their phone number.

10. What is your best or favorite yard sale find to date?

Rhoda – I found a piecrust table for $75 at a yard sale that would be worth probably 3 times that price at an antiques store. I still have the table and love it.

LaineMy red coffee table is definitely my favorite, but do have several that I think are awesome. Like my $15 dishwasher and so many others. =)

MollyMy hubby and I were talking about this last night and I think I would have to say my living room chandelier! This chandelier is well over $200 in value and I got it for $10!

I really hoped you enjoyed reading through their tips and answers!  I know I did!  Rhoda has inspired me to try to get out earlier and look for antiques and things of value along with my fun, pretty things.  I hope those of you that say you don’t shop yard sales because of having to take kids with you read through Molly’s tips – truly some great ideas there and think of the memories and legacy of bargain hunting you could pass on to your kids.  And Laine’s worst yard sale shopping experience would have had me crying too, how rude!  And her craziest yard sale shopping experience had me laughing!

I hope this series has been an inspiration and help to you!  If you have missed any parts you can catch them here:

I will be back next week with one last post on how to host your own yard sale!  And of course I will be sharing my weekly yard sale and thrifting finds on Friday – got some fun ones last weekend! Smile


Sometimes I link up to these wonderful parties:

Sarahndipities, Skip to my Lou, Today’s Creative Blog, How to Nest for Less, Home Stories A to Z, Apron Thrift Girl, Tools are for women too, Not just a Housewife, A bowl full of lemons, Uncommon Designs Online, Someday Crafts, No Minimalist Here,Somewhat Simple, 36th Avenue, Sew Much Ado, The Style Sisters, The Thrifty Home, Domestically Speaking, House of Hepworths, The Shabby Creek Cottage, Weekend Blogging party at Serenity Now, Home Happy Home, Tatertots and Jello, Funky Junk Interiors, The Girl Creative, Miss Mustard Seed, Chic on a Shoestring Decorating, Remodelaholic, The Lettered Cottage, Before and after party at Thrifty Decor Chick, Pinterest Challenge at Young House Love


  1. Susana says:

    awesome! ur series has me motivated. went out my 2nd time this sat before kids woke up and got an awesome home depot tool box workshop set with the work bench and everything and at lesat 10 tools for $3 for my son. good tips for mommies with kids too!

    • Christina says:

      yay for you, Susana! I really do enjoy it and I think for kids you can find tons of stuff – clothes, toys, all kinds of stuff 🙂

  2. HI, Christina! This was a great post, thanks for featuring me and my yardsale self. It is so much fun, I got all excited again just reading about it. Looking forward to more this year!

    • Christina says:

      Thanks, Rhoda! Thank you for contributing and for hosting the great linkup party each week too. 🙂 Will be happy for you to start shopping them again too! 🙂

  3. Yard sales can definitely send bumps up and down my spine! One tip I would like to share is using when you are looking for yard sales on Craigslist. It has a feature that will map out the best route to hit all the yard sales in your area! I LOVE it!!!

    I love all the goodies shared in this post, gets me ready for Saturday:)

  4. These are some great tips!! Thanks so much for putting this post together. I haven’t done a lot of serious yard sale shopping in the past, but I intend to this year. I already found a bookcase last weekend for $5 for my craft organization project. Thanks for the encouragement.

    I would love it if you would link up this post to my Take it on Tuesday blog hop!!
    Betsy @ Romance on a Dime recently posted..Take it on Tuesday blog hop #27: Easy DIY YogurtMy Profile

  5. Thanks for featuring me and all the work you put into this post! I think it will be a great motivator to people who’ve been leary of trying out yard sales!
    Laine recently posted..Thrifty Shoe Makeover with Acrylic PaintMy Profile

    • Christina says:

      Thanks for contributing, Laine! 🙂 and yes I think all of you gave some great tips on shopping with kids, finding yard sales, and finding bargains! 🙂


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