How To: Win at Yard Sales!

There’s tons of yard sales in every city in America nearly every weekend that weather permits. Are you taking full advantage of these opportunities? In today’s How To series, we’ll cover some basic tips that will enable you to win at yard sales!

“But how do I win at yard sales

and get great deals without being taken?”

It’s not as easy as it looks on those TV shows. For example: have you ever been to a yard sale and noticed that something was conspicuously under-priced that you thought would be more expensive? “Maybe it’s fake; maybe it’s broken…” you might instinctively think. And you should trust your gut instincts.

But what if…?

We’ve all been there before: “Do I risk my hard-earned cash or do I miss an opportunity?

It doesn’t have to be that way!

Here’s 5 simple tricks to help you discover the treasures found in virtually every yard sale:

1: Wear sunglasses!

  • It seems too simple to work, but blocking eye contact with sunglasses (every detective movie ever) gives you an edge in negotiations because they can’t “read” you!
  • Blocking the sun keeps your eyes sharp, spotting details and deals from further away!

2: Have more than one specialty.

  • Let’s suppose you never loved to crash (devalue!) MatchBox cars as a kid, and over there on a table at a yard sale is a near mint condition 1966 Opel. But all you see is a 50 cent toy car. Because your specialty lies with power tools, instead you noticed the 1930’s Model E Skilsaw in their shed, the first generation saw with a worm drive that your grandpa used to make his tool shed. You quickly make an offer for the Skilsaw. A parent of a toddler later buys the Matchbox Car as a birthday gift. No one was the wiser, and you got a great deal on the saw. But…
Yardsale Adventure
The 1966 Opel Diplomat MatchBox Car shown above was sold at auction for $9000.
Model E Skil Saw Auction
The Model E Skilsaw shown above was a historical first of it’s kind and nearly a modern marvel, yet it only sold for $200 in a recent auction.

3: Understand the effects of condition on value.

  • You’re picking through an estate when suddenly you’re holding Action Comics #1, where Superman debuts, in your hand. It’s in mint condition… except for the bent corner on page 7, and the finger nail scrape on the back cover, and  the flexed spine binding, and the rust on the staples that bled into a page’s art frame. The seller is claiming it’s “excellent for it’s age”, but you’re noticing the pages feel like they’ve been wet then dried. How much is it worth, in this condition? Are you even qualified to determine this?

The honest truth here is that experience is more important than your eyes. If you aren’t sure or it’s not obvious and apparent, then keep your money in your pocket. Look it up if you have the time.

4: Use a Calendar or Calendar app to stay organized.

  • Staying organized is one obvious key to success, however the simplest and most effective things often get taken for granted. Keeping a forecast of dates on your calendar helps you maximize your yard sale coverage and minimize missed opportunities.
  • And it will keep you from forgetting!

5: Get out of your comfort zone, not out of your pocket.

  • Don’t hesitate to buy something you’re unfamiliar with just because you don’t know anything about it. If it’s expensive, the seller will be able to prove it to you.

  • If your instincts aren’t convinced, trust them!