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The Art of Yard Sale-ing

Posted at 6:13 AM, May 21, 2014
and last updated 2014-05-21 08:44:58-04

good bad uglyADA, Mich. (May 21, 2014) — What is a typical day off for me? Getting up dark and early, even though I don’t have to, hopping on or Craigslist to see where I will find the treasures of the day. The thrill of the hunt is probably similar to what many sports fanatics feel on game day. (I too love sports, but not as much as thrifting).

Here’s a helpful hint, too. Before you head out for the day, download a garage sale finding app on your phone. One of my favorites is called “Garage Sales, Everywhere!” Just type in the keywords “garage sale finder” and several pop up. They can pinpoint your location and then show little flags on a map with the ones nearest to you. Pretty cool! The app works best when you have a co-pilot, so one can look and direct, while the other drives. My husband and I had so much fun going on a spur of the moment adventure with the app one day.

Before heading out recently on a Friday, I spoke via Skype with blogger Crystal Paine of Money Saving Mom.   I was really intrigued with one of her entries called 10 Secrets to Holding a Successful Garage Sale .

I grabbed a photographer along with my cousins, Sheri and Kelly, who also share the love for thrifting. Our first stop was a neighborhood sale in Ada. I was scoping out the scene to see how many people knew the art of holding a successful yard sale, without them ever hearing Crystal’s following tips:

  • Figure out what days of the week/time of the year weather wise work best to hold a sale in your area
  • Be organized: Don’t wait until the night before- Crystal has some friends that mark things as they put them in storage, all year-long
  • Advertise! Advertise! Advertise: Use keywords on Craigslist such as “Huge” or “Multi-Family” to attract buyers. You can also post your sale on
  • Be very descriptive of items you are selling: when people do a search in Craigslist, this will help your ad pop up
  • Use Bold/Bright signs that all look the same, leading right to your home- also great to post keywords posted above, “Huge” etc.
  • Have a variety of prices: Mark things as low as 25 cents because people are more likely to buy multiple things
  • The price of each item should be clearly marked
  • Make things half-price on last day and even FREE! during the last hour
  • Cookie and lemonade stands are great for kids to run at the sale-Crystal said it keeps their entrepreneurial skills in practice while allowing them to make some money, too

If you are the person searching for the bargains and you think something is overpriced, Paine suggests bundling items to work out a deal or even haggle a bit, so you can try to pay a comfortable price.

My suggestions:

  • Check the forecast before you go (hitting up Goodwill, Estate Sales or thrift stores are great on a rainy day)
  • Dress in layers
  • Wear comfortable shoes: looking “cute” can go out the window on garage sale day!
  • Bring snacks and water along
  • Stop and get cash: don’t expect the person holding a sale to be comfortable taking a check! Many times they will put an item aside if you need to run and get cash, too.
  • Bring an oversize bag or small cart so you can park and walk to several, if you are in a neighborhood setting
  • Be reasonable when asking someone to lower a price.
  • Give a child holding a lemonade stand, a little more than they are asking, just to brighten their day!
  • Be courteous! One lady told me she had to call the police last year because two men were fighting over some chairs! True story!
  • Consider sales that run in the evening during the week! I have been seeing this trend more and more. It allows people to stop after work.

On a side note, if your sale is finished and you are stuck with unwanted items, contact your local thrift stores such as Salvation Army and Goodwill to see if you could schedule a time for them to do a pick up.