Yard sales and garage sales are amazing places to source inexpensive inventory to sell online. Yard sale prices are bottom dollar, as the owner has already undergone the process of clearing out, and they usually do not want to lug the stuff back into their home. Often, they are prepared to donate or discard unsold items.
Here in New England, the yard sale season is something I look forward to all year! Here are my best tips and tricks for yard sale season!
How To Find Yard Sales
I strive for a low cost of goods (COG) and a high return on investment (ROI), so I treat yard sailing like a professional sport. I plan my route in advance to minimize travel while maximizing opportunity! It is best to plan a day or so before as sales start early in the morning.
Reseller Tip: You can score at multi-family, community, charity, and church yard sales- always keep your eyes open for those collaborative events.
I use Yard Sale Treasure Map to plan my yard sale adventures. On the app, you can search by day, location, distance, and keyword, seeing the location and description of yard sales, garage sales, and estate sales. It features a GPS system to navigate your route, providing directions to each sale methodologically. I have been using the Yard Sale Treasure Map for years! Check out the tutorials for Apple and Android here.
Shawn from Yard Sale Treasure Map explains that many new features are available on the app such as the ability for users to add sales and photographs. Further, he explains “users can be on the lookout for a new spreadsheet feature where private notes can be added for signed-in users to see.” The new features will make the app even more of a game changer!
Reseller Tip: Many resellers advocate for attending yard sales in wealthier areas to acquire better merchandise. Personally, I have found amazing pieces everywhere!
I also take a peek at Facebook Marketplace and Craig’s List to see advertisements for upcoming sales. On Facebook Marketplace, filter by location and search the words “yard sale” and “garage sale” to see the sales near me. Sometimes, I message the host asking if they have what I am looking for, which is always clothing! Craig’s List is another place that people often post advertisements for yard sales, with similar geographical filters.
Reseller Tip: Do not forget to keep your eyes open for signs while you are out and about in residential areas. Many people do not advertise sales online, but rather on telephone poles with poster boards!
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What To Bring to a Yard Sale
Cash:is king, especially at yard sales. Be sure to bring more than you need, since you never know which treasures you may find. I always bring small bills, which makes for ease of negotiation and payment. I cannot very well offer $3 on something priced at $5, and then ask for change for a five-dollar bill…
Reusable Bags and packaging materials:A good host will offer bags and boxes, but we all know how destructive plastic bags are to the environment. I recommend the Frakta Ikea Bag, as they are enormous, heavy duty, and last forever! If you are sourcing hard goods, it is a good idea to keep packaging material in your vehicle as well.
Stain Remover Pen:I don’t go anywhere without a Stain Remover Pen. My personal favorite is the Tide To-Go Instant Stain Remover Pen. I always try to inconspicuously attempt to treat stains on site, so I have a better idea of an item’s potential before purchasing.
Fanny Pack:I rock a fanny pack when I’m hittin’ the garage sales for rummaging without encumbrance. It is so much easier when I’m flipping through racks or digging through bins. Plus, it keeps my valuables nice and close to me.
Hand Sanitizer:Yard sales can be dirty, and cash is really dirty. Even pre-pandemic, I carried hand sanitizer.
Notepad:A notepad (or using a note app on your phone) is a must, to help with calculations and also to keep track of your spending. It is unlikely that the yard sale host will offer a receipt, so it is your job to note your COG, and all of the book-keeping required for tax purposes. Immediately after purchases, I jot down the location and costs for my business records.
Measuring Tape:I always carry a measuring tape, to measure items on site. You never know when you might find something that you (or a client may) love, and measurements will assist in determining fit. A measuring device is crucial when sourcing larger home décor items and furniture.
Business Cards:Don’t forget your business cards. I hand them out everywhere. I am very transparent about being a reseller, and I always give them to the host and request that they contact me with any unsold merchandise or next time they have a sale. You wouldn’t believe how many follow-up inquiries I receive from doing this! Even a yard sale can be a networking event.
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When to Go to Yard Sales
Show up right on time or just before the yard sale starts to get first change sourcing! But do not show up too early. No one likes “early birds” lurking around as they try to set up.
While the first to arrive gets the greatest selection, those who arrive just before the end of a sale undoubtedly receive the best prices. Often, yard sale hosts offer leftover items for close to nothing to avoid the burden of discarding the items.
Reseller Tip: Curb Alert! Often, unsold yard sale items will end up on the side of the road for free! It may be worth it to take a drive by after the sale and see if anything has been put out!
Yard Sale Tips for Resellers
Be Nice. That is obvious, right? Be sure to park in an appropriate place, walk on only designated areas of a yard, greet the host with a smile, introduce yourself and exchange pleasantries. A little kindness goes a long way. It is best to leave your dog at home, and to use the bathroom before or after the sale.
Always negotiate! It is expected at a yard sale. In fact, offer even less than you are willing to pay. Remember, the items are a yard sale are not a seller’s inventory; rather, a household’s junk, that they don’t want. Prices are already low, but it does not hurt to make an offer. The Spruce offers an excellent guide to the art of haggling.
Reseller Tip: There are often greater discounts and incentives associated with larger quantities. If you are shopping with a friend, cash out together to expedite negotiations and maximize value.
Research items on site. I use Google Lens to photograph and image search for items, it is a game changer for sourcing! When in a rush and being spectated, I quickly check pricing comps on eBay. I find that clothing sells cheapest on eBay, so if I am comfortable with the eBay comps in consideration of the price, then I know I am good to go!
Inspect items thoroughly! There might be a reason they are letting go of it. There are no returns at yard sales, so be sure to check items front and back, inside and out. Don’t forget to check the buttons and zippers on clothing, or to check inside games for all of the pieces. For luxury goods and art, be sure to do some research regarding authentication.
Do you source from yard sales and garage sales? Share some of your tips below!