Part of the appeal of spring and summer is hitting up a really good yard sale or flea market – not only is it good for the environment but it’s also hella fun, especially when you find that special piece. So, check out my tips below for a majorly successful trip.
Growing up I’ll never forget the panic that set in every time I saw one of those little hand-drawn signs while riding shotgun with my mom. It almost always meant a sudden slam of the brakes, a quick flip of the blinker, and a figurative middle finger to the poor soul who happened to be behind us at the moment. My mother didn’t just have FoMO, she had FoMOOYS, otherwise known as Fear of Missing Out On Yard Sales.
She and I did this for many weekends throughout my childhood, often scoring some of the best household furnishings for a fraction of the retail price. Mom definitely taught me a thing or two about how to haggle, how to be selective, and how NOT to drive, so now I have the opportunity to pass those tricks of the trade on to you. The tips below are designed to make yard sale and flea market navigating fun, successful, and safe for a bargain-filled summer. Enjoy!
1. Early Bird
Sorry night owls, the early bird really does get the worm when it comes to snagging the most sought after pieces. Planning your route in advance, checking newspapers and the internet for sales, and arriving when the doors open are your best bets for snapping up the most popular items. This also means: don’t even think about going out on the night before! Bright eyed, bushy tailed, and hangover-free is how you want to attend flea markets and yard sales, and try to get out there on opening day to avoid having to shop the “leftovers.”
2. Cash is King
The chances of being able to use a credit card or personal check is slim to none at these types of sales, so having plenty of cash on hand, with a few bills in each denomination, is the best bet for getting the best deal. Being able to put your money where your mouth is, on the spot, is a great bargaining tactic. Remind the seller that you’re paying in cash by saying something like, “I can give you X dollars, cash, for such and such.”
3. Size Matters
Delivery isn’t a guarantee, so make sure that the size of what you’re looking for fits the size of your vehicle. There’s not much worse than realizing you can’t fit that treasured credenza in your compact especially if you’re miles from home. Ask a friend with an SUV or truck to come with and offer to buy breakfast. Also, a measuring tape and predetermined measurements of where your items will live is a must.
4. Quality Control
Just because you’re buying second hand doesn’t mean your purchases shouldn’t be up to par. Don’t buy furniture that has major flaws, like deep scratches or broken legs. Also skip out on poor construction, particle board, and any items that have bugs or bug droppings. Clothes should be free of stains and holes, and whatever you do – don’t buy used cosmetics.
5. Deep Breath
You may know you’re scoring the deal of the century by snagging two authentic Eames chairs for next to nothing, but try to contain your enthusiasm. Until the deal is closed, sellers have the right to change their minds. Remember, this isn’t antiques roadshow, so try not to rub in just how much more money the seller could be making for your items.
6. Fuel Both Tanks
A car running on empty is unacceptable for a day filled with treasure and bargain hunting, but so is an empty stomach, so fill up your car and your belly before departure. Also keep a stash on hand, a mini cooler is best, because staying hydrated and having snacks is the key to avoiding dips in blood sugar and putting a damper on your stamina and negotiating skills.
7. Last Call
This is for when you happen to still be shopping at the end of the day and sellers are eager to pack up. Many people will let things go at a bargain in order to avoid having to repack the item into their trucks, or it’s the last day of the sale and they just want everything gone. The special finds may be gone, but practicality still exists with this technique.
Are you ready to score some deals?! Share your favorite yard sale and flea market finds on the EcoSalon Facebook page!
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Image of Furniture via Shutterstock