Yard sales and garage sales are amazing places to source inexpensive inventory to flip for a profit online!
Yard sales are a hit-or-miss; sometimes they are a junkyard and other times they are a jackpot!
Yard-saling is a treasure hunt, and one of the most inexpensive ways to source. Yard sale prices are bottom dollar, as the owner has already undergone the emotional and physical process of clearing out, and they are prepared to donate or discard unsold items.
How To Find Yard Sales:
Finding yard sales (and estate sales is easier than you might think). In addition to driving around and reading poster signs hung in residential areas, also take a peek at local Facebook Groups, Facebook Marketplace, and Craig’s List to see advertisements for upcoming sales.
On Facebook Marketplace, I 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! This helps me plan my route and determine if I will stop by!
Yard Sale Tip: You can really score at multi-family, community, charity, and church yard sales- always keep your eyes open for those collaborative events.
Also, make sure you check out: How to Source Inventory for Free or With a Low Budget
Arrive On Time
Show up to a yard 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 their yard 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 them. It might even be worth hitting a great sale twice!
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 feel awkward when I offer $6 on something priced at $10, and then ask for change for change for $10…
Track Your Purchases
How do you provide your accountant with receipts for inventory purchased at yard sales? You can’t… but if you are audited, you can full-fill your burden of documentation by providing a log of the sale address, sale date, items purchased, and amount spent.
Keep track of this information, whether it be in a notebook or an electronic note on your phone. It is important to track your cost of goods (COG) and revenue, and also for business records.
I use the Vendoo mobile app to track my purchases and COG right from my car at the yardsale!
Be nice, so many people don’t say “hello” anymore. You will get a better price with a smile and friendly demeanor.
More importantly, as a small business owner, every social event is a marketing opportunity.
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! I have done tons of “clear-outs” for minimal prices and even free! People love to support small businesses.
Always Negotiate Prices
Always, always, always negotiate at yard sales! It is expected!
In fact, offer even less than you are willing to pay. Remember, the items at 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. They can’t say yes if you don’t ask!
Yard Sale 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.
Don’t Get Carried Away
Remember, quality over quantity. With such low prices, it can be easy to get carried away.
When you purchase something for $1 and sell it for $15… that sounds fine unless you consider your gas, operational expenses, time at the sale, and time to clean, process, list, store, and ship. There is no such thing as free inventory, because your time is valuable.
Don’t get caught up in the deal. If you can fill a bag for $5… you don’t have to actually fill the bag if the stuff is not worth your time.
Yard Sale Tip: I use Google Lens at yard sales! You can snap a quick photograph, and search Google by the photo! This allows you to quickly check MSRP and comps.
Inspect Items Thoroughly
Just like when you are thrifting, make sure you double-check everything.
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.
I love going to yard-sales! It is one of my favorite hobbies! Do you source from yard sales and garage sales? Share some of your tips below!
You might also be interested in the article A Reseller’s Guide to Yard Sales and Garage Sales