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Save (Even More) Money at Yard Sales: Here’s How

Use these five tips to score the biggest bargains.


It’s prime season for folks to set up shop outside their homes and sell off old belongings. But if you want to save money at yard sales while still scoring great finds, you need to be crafty and go in with a strategy. Use these five pro tips to ensure you score the best bargains at every yard sale you visit this summer.

Spot Hidden Deals

At most yard sales, you’ll quickly find lots of items arranged on tables within easy reach. But you’ll often get better bargains when you search around for merchandise in less noticeable areas, such as under tables or on the lawn. Why? “The seller doesn’t think it’s worth as much as the items they’re displaying front and center,” explains Cindy Sabulis, author of The Garage Sale How-To Guide. That’s good news for you since it means she’ll likely start with a low price and come down even more! Another benefit to hunting for deals: “You might find something that the seller has no clue what it is or where it came from, so has no idea what price to ask.” As a result, she may accept whatever offer you make! Also smart: Dig through messy boxes or piles of junk, she recommends. “Sometimes, you’ll find hidden treasures that other shoppers miss.”

Safety tip: Before buying a toaster oven, dresser, or other item that could pose a health or safety risk, visit CPSC. gov/recalls to see if it was recalled. If it was, skip it and alert the seller so she can remove it.

Focus On the Bulk

If you love the thrill of getting a whopping 30, 40, even 60 percent off a seller’s asking price, then focus on chairs, desks, and other bulky items. “When I sell at my own sales, I often joke, ‘The bigger the item, the bigger the discount!’” says Sabulis. “The seller doesn’t want to have to move, store, donate, or discard that item at the end of the day, so they’re usually very hungry to negotiate a selling price to get rid of it.” Another option? Look for yard sales that say “moving” or “estate” in their description. Explains Sabulis: “Generally, it’s easier to haggle at a moving sale where the seller has to get rid of stuff because they’re going to a new place, or at an estate sale where a family is trying to quickly empty the contents of a relative’s home.”

Show Up Late

You may feel the urge to rush to a garage sale as soon as it starts so you can snap up the best deals. However, visiting a sale in its final hours can mean getting bigger bargains on better items! “Sometimes, a seller thinks something they’re selling is ‘gold’ and they price it so high that no one goes near it. By the end of the sale, the seller may be desperate to sell it and will either mark the price down drastically or, in some cases, just give it away at the end of the sale,” says Sabulis. “I once went to an estate sale the last hour of a two-day sale. Just as I walked up the driveway, the seller put out two large, never-been-displayed vintage blow mold Halloween decorations with a ‘free’ sign. Knowing how many collectors love blow molds, I couldn’t grab them quickly enough.” Sabulis displayed the decorations at her own home on Halloween, then later sold them for $100!

Get a Good Price

Unsure if the price for the unused electric mixer that’s in its original box is a good bargain? Check eBay, advises Pam Dreamer, co-host of the Thrift Mine YouTube channel. “You can use the app to scan barcodes of items that are still new in boxes or search the items by typing in the search bar.” Then filter results to see the “sold” items to determine what folks have paid for them. If it’s less than what the yard sale host is offering, show her the listings and ask if she’ll meet or beat those prices. Also smart: “I pile up everything I want, then ask the seller for a price on the entire pile,” says Dreamer. “The seller is usually so happy you’re taking so much off their hands, they’re willing to give you a lower price for the bundle.”

Save Gas

Driving from sale to sale can be costly due to sky-high fuel prices. But finding the shortest driving routes to all the yard sales you want to visit is easy! Just visit MapQuest. com/routeplanner, type in up to 26 addresses you want to drive to, then select “Optimize for shortest time” and “Let us reorder stops.” The addresses will be listed in the order that helps you drive the shortest distance, along with a map displaying your route. An added plus: You can opt to avoid toll roads too!

A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.

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