The garage sale season is picking up as homeowners try to purge some of their belongings. Many communities hold sales during what usually are the cooler months of autumn. As a shopper, a little planning goes a long way toward a successful day. Here are some ideas.
Plan a route. Grab the paper and a map. Scour ads a day ahead to plan a route for garage sale day. If you're not into planning, look for garage sale posters during your errand runs.
Pencil in the big sales. Target community garage sales for a concentration of homes participating. You won't have to drive far to get from one to another. Even better, you can park and walk the neighborhood, but bring a wagon or a stroller to haul your purchases.
Dress for success. Wear sensible walking shoes, not flip-flops or heels. Dress appropriately for the weather, and don't forget your sunglasses and sunscreen.
Start early. Early birds get the worm, or good finds, anyway. Get an early start for best selections. But don't go knocking on doors to wake up the sellers. Wait for them to be ready.
Keep your hands free. Put your wallet in a fanny pack, so you have both hands to rummage and carry items you want to buy. Bring some plastic grocery bags to carry your find until you pay.
Prioritize. Sellers don't like drive-by shoppers, but let's face it, we can't stop at every sale. Scan for the type of things you're looking for. Furniture, for instance, will likely be prominently displayed up front. Toddler toys? Look for bright colors. Things for girls? Look for pink and pastels.
Worth a stop? Do a quick reconnaissance when you arrive to check out the pricing. You'll quickly know if it's reasonable for a yard sale. You'll find high-quality items in upper income neighborhoods, but don't bypass less affluent communities.
Negotiate. Don't be afraid to haggle if you think the price is too high. The worst thing that can happen is to get a "no."
Bribe the kids. If you're bringing your kids along, give them a dollar or two to buy some things for themselves. Many sellers have 10-cent boxes full of small toys. Many children's books are a quarter each or cheaper.
Get your ride ready. Clean out your car so you have enough space for hauling your purchases. If you're looking for furniture or big play sets, bring a friend who has a truck. And if you like to haggle, don't drive up in a luxury car. Sellers probably won't be as compromising.
It's hot out there. Many sellers will have snacks and drinks for sale, but bring a small cooler just in case.
End of the day. Some of the best prices can be found at the end of the day. Sellers are more willing to make a deal.
Buyer beware. Plug in electrical gadgets, open and examine the bedspreads, pore through children's books for missing stickers or crayoned pages. If you're buying CDs or DVDs, open the case to make sure they're there. And check to make sure the discs are in good condition.