In my opinion, this weekend, the one following Memorial Day, is one of the best weekends to shop garage sales! I have a few tips if you are new to the yard sale arena, or if you just need a little help getting started:
- Make a list of the items you want or need: Is it 12-month clothing? Socks for your toddlers? Toys? This will help with the impulse buying and also help you from feeling overwhelmed at the first sale!
- If you want to match up part of an outfit to something you have at home, bring the item with you and leave it in the car. It's right there if you need to run and grab it for a quick comparison.
- Garage sales are not just for clothing! I frequently pick up hair accessories, belts, ties, socks, dress-up items (for my niece's dress-up chest), crib sheets, small new toys (for long car rides and a fussy toddler), books and other items I think that I will use.
- Check multiple sources for advertisements. The newspaper usually has advertisements, but this year, I've seen many more ads on Craigslist and our local “pennysaver” newspaper. I've also had excellent luck driving around a nice neighborhood and following signs from busy streets.
- Keep plenty of change and small bills in a coin purse or wallet. Most sales only take cash, and you don't want to be lugging around a diaper bag or purse! You'll need your hands to look for those great items.
- If you see an item that you want but you think it's priced too high, always offer less. Most people have garage sales to get rid of stuff, not make a ton of money! If the seller declines, it's ok. You can either choose to buy it anyway, or walk away. If you are still interested in the item later, stop back toward the end of the sale or give them your name and number so they can call you if the item doesn't sell.
- Keep a few bags in your car for those items that you buy.
- Think bigger! If you see a great dress in a 2T but your child is in 12 month sizes, ask yourself if you should buy it and hang it up until their next birthday! Honestly, I've picked up brand new items in 2T for pennies for my unborn baby girl! I know it's crazy, but she'll be that size before I know it, and I'll appreciate having the stash of bigger clothes when we get to it.
- Do you have an extra closet or dresser that you are not using? Could you use that for the next few sizes up? You will save a ton of money by stocking up on those next few sizes at garage sales and storing them for a few months. You could also use a storage bin or box, too! Label each drawer or box with the size and gender, and stack them in a closet or basement if you have the space.
- Think outside the season. Do you want to shop for winter clothing now? How about a great deal on a toddler bed for the next step in your little one's life? What about Halloween costumes? I always pick up items I know that we will need in the future, like bigger pajamas and swimwear!
- Keep your eyes open for “Bag Sales”. Some of the churches in my area have had sales where you fill a paper grocery bag for as little as $1! I have scored tons of great stuff, and you have no idea how much clothing fits into a single bag until you start packing it in!
- If you are bringing kids along, bring plenty of treats and drinks. Bring a special toy for your little one. If you have small children, you may want to bring along little treats just in case! If your child is big enough give them a small coin purse of their own so they can make their own purchases.This is educational, too!
- If you have a friend (or, in my case, a sister!) tell them what you are looking for. My sister, mom and I all go to garage sales on our own and if one of us finds something that they think the other needs, they'll pick it up. I once found a toddler bed for $1.50, and it was in great condition! If my sister hadn't told me she was looking for one, someone else would have walked away with that find.
- If you don't find anything one day, don't give up! There's always next weekend!
It the thought of shopping at garage or yard sales does not appeal to you, remember, everything can be washed (even shoes)! I actually have a few friends who frequently shop consignment sales and resale shops like Once Upon a Child, but they refuse to visit yard sales. Most of the time, I just can't figure out the difference in the merchandise between the three outlets, and garage sales hands down have the lowest prices!
What about you? Are you a frequent “yard saler”? Do you have any tips for those just starting out? Leave a comment with your suggestions!