Simple Tips to Better Bargain Hunting

Be a better bargain hunter at flea markets and yard sales with these savvy strategies.

Presale Prep

• Make a list of what you're looking for and any relevant dimensions, such as exactly how much space you have for a framed mirror over your mantel (and tote along a tape measure)

• If you're trying to match colors or styles, bring swatches or photos

Related: Decorate Chic on the Cheap


How to Find Fleas

Websites such as findafleamarket.com list sales (this month's 127 Corridor Sale spans nearly 700 miles from Hudson, MI, to Gadsden, AL). Look for yard and estate-sale listings in local papers and on craiglist.org.

Related: Be a Better Bargain Hunter




Time It Right

Early birds get the best selection, while latecomers get the best deals (sellers don't want to lug stuff home). If you spot something in the a.m. that's out of your price range, offer to leave your cell number in case the vendor still has the item at closing time and wants to lower the price.

Related: Decorating on a Budget



What NOT to Wear

Leave the flashy jewelry, nice watch, and designer labels at home: Sellers often size up shoppers by their attire, and charge accordingly. Also, browsing goes more easily when you're unencumbered, so tuck your wallet, your keys, and a bottle of water into an otherwise empty sturdy shoulder bag in which you can stash smaller purchases - no juggling them and your handbag.

Related: Be a Better Bargain Hunter



Don't Show 'em the Money

Haggling works better when you can say, "But I only have a $10 bill," and the seller doesn't see a $20 bill behind it. Keep small bills tucked in pockets, separate from your wallet. Also, make your best offer while praising, not dissing, the item in question. If the seller still won't budge on the price, ask her to throw in another item; she may agree to a better deal if you take more stuff off her hands.

Related: Bargaining for Beginners



Know Your Numbers

If hunting for something specific, first research what it might cost. Kovels' Antiques and Collectibles Price Guide (kovels.com) lists the value of nearly every antique; eBay can give you an idea of what's on the market and the going rate.

Related: Websites That Save You Money




More from Good Housekeeping:

Reprinted with permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.

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