Regardless of which side of the sale table you find yourself on, there probably is no right or wrong way to visit or to host a garage sale. Each person is led by his or her own motivations and goals. A search of World Wide Web sites, however, yields some tips for getting the most out of such endeavors.
If you're buying ...
Make a list of items you want. Include measurements and sizes where appropriate.
Take the list with you when you go to sales.
Look at the prices in general. If the prices are too high, ask if they are negotiable. If they are not, leave right away.
If the sale items have been stored in a basement and smell musty, chances are, all paper, cloth and leather items will be rotten.
Don't buy any electronics at yard and garage sales that cost more than $15. These sales are not the place for fine hi-fi systems, unless, of course, you are fond of eight-track cassettes. Repairs on electrical or computer systems start at $85, so you don't save much on used stuff that will break soon. Yes, it will break soon, if it isn't already broken.
Yard and garage sale, or any second-hand, prices should generally be lower than one-third of retail. That is, don't pay any more for a second-hand $100 table or chandelier than $30.
Prepare to haggle.
Don't take it personally when someone is offended at your ridiculously low offer.
If you're selling ...
If you haven't used an item in a year, consider it for the sale.
If you haven't used an item in two years, it must go in the sale.
Use easily removable tags for pricing. Do not use masking or duct tape so as to avoid removing paint or leaving a residue.
Price items on the low side. The point is to sell the stuff.
Put big signs up on strategic corners, as long as it's legal.
Use a posting method that allows complete removal later.
Every sign should have big, thick arrows: Most lettering is too hard to see by speeding motorists. Big arrows win.
If you think an item is worth a lot of money, place an ad in the newspaper or take it to a pawn shop. Do not expect it to sell in your yard sale.
Make it easy for drivers to see your goods from the street:
Sort through and display your items in an orderly fashion.
Hang the clothes, don't leave them in a pig pile.
Wash items, or at least wipe off the mold.
Put your sale items in the front yard, not in the back, not in the alley, not in the basement.
Prepare to haggle.
Don't take it personally when someone makes you a ridiculously low offer.
Take down your signs.
Count your money minus your start-up cash.
Your profit is the excess cash -- plus the junk now in someone else's hands -- plus the fun you had.
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