Garage sales are incredible places to get bargains. There's so many opportunities to find some great buys if you know how to go about it. When you have a plan of action, that's when you'll walk away with more money left in your wallet and several quality items in your arms. So what are some of the best (and easiest) ways to get the best garage sale deals?
Look for cluster sales
Look for a group of garage sales that that are going on at the same time in the same area. You would be surprised how many lower their prices when they find out someone nearby is selling the same items. There's been several instances when those running a garage sale have said to me that someone on a nearby block was selling the same item I was looking at but for a more expensive price just so their item would look more enticing. It also helps if you know the information yourself and let the seller know. For example, if you see one item for a particular price at one house and see the same item selling for more twenty houses down, tell the seller "The person down the block is selling this item for three dollars cheaper. Is there any way you could lower this price by four dollars?"
Don't just look for items right on top. Often the hidden items are those that owners don't think will sell or they're items other garage sale shoppers hid in hopes that it will still be there later when they return. There were many times when I've found hidden items that the owners actually gave me for free or at an extremely discounted rate because they didn't think anyone else would want them.
Learn to negotiate
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to forgo negotiating. Some garage sale owners clearly state, either verbally or in writing, that there's no negotiating, but most of the time they expect it. Don't hesitate to make an offer; the worst thing they could say is no and then you can just try to compromise on another amount.
Make two trips
There's no doubt that the best time to hit garage sales is right when they start so you can get your hands on the best items, but going when they're almost over is also ideal. No one wants to have leftover items so they often lower the prices (or give things away for free!) when the garage sale is winding down. I've gotten several fantastic deals this way, but there was one instance I made out especially well. I went to a really great yard sale and got quite a few items, but decided to go back later toward ending time to see what they still had left. It was then I ended up walking away with three beautiful pieces of furniture, two sets of china plates, a handful of books and various other items all for free because they didn't want to bring everything back in the house. I sold some of the items, kept the rest and ended up making more money than I spent for the first batch of items I bought from them.
Group your items
Don't go up to the seller and ask about negotiating on the price of each item. In many cases, the more items you purchase the bigger a discount you'll get. Calculate the cost of all the items in your hand, then ask the seller "How much will you accept for all these items?"
Don't pass up on a slightly damaged items
Many sellers won't hesitate to give you a discount on an item if they're aware that it's slightly damaged. Sure it will probably cost you some money to repair it (or nothing if you leave it as is) but your discount will likely be greater than what you'll pay to repair it. Just make sure before you purchase it that it's worth the buy.
Dress the part
Never, ever go to a garage sale wearing anything that looks expensive. I've actually tested this theory and I can tell you that sellers are far less willing to give you a break on the price if they see you wearing expensive clothing, carrying a designer purse or wearing several pieces of jewelry. Does it seem ridiculous that they assume you can spend more just because of what you're wearing? Sure, but it happens. Your best bet is to wear jeans and a t-shirt/sweater, carry a non-designer purse and leave the jewelry at home.
When you want to find the best bargains at garage sales, you have to be willing to put in the work to get them. Very rarely will a deal just fall into your lap. It may seem like a huge hassle, but you could end up getting some truly incredible deals.
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