How to Find Deals at Yard Sales/Garage Sales/Moving Sales/Rummage Sales

My sister and I are on a quest to revamp my parents’ kitchen/dining room/great room.  We’re doing it (our decorating part, at least), on a $500 budget, so a lot of things—okay, pretty much every thing—we’ve sourced has come from a yard sale or thrift store or Craigslist.  We spent over 12 hours a day on both Friday and Saturday scavenging for good deals.  We’ve learned a lot of things about how to shop the yard sales, and since my blog would not be my blog if I withheld good things from you, I will share my tips here.  Today.  Now.

How to Scrounge Up Amazing Deals at Yard Sales, etc.

1.  Prepare your money ahead of time. Take a canister of change for small knick-knack purchases, $1 bills for medium purchases (anything between $1-$15 qualifies as a mid-range purchase), and $20 bills for larger buys (like furniture and large appliances).

Coin BagThis bag of coins used to be full to the brim.  The fact that it’s nearing empty speaks volumes of our weekend—it means we got loads of good deals and plenty of DDPs from QT.

It is much easier to haggle if you can hand the sellers exact change—haggling, say, a clock down from $10 to $5 looks a little ridiculous when you hand over a $20 bill.  Take a variety of cash.

2.  Haggle. I never accept the initial price at yard sales.  So many people are afraid to haggle because it’s such an awful word—it sounds very hag-ish.  But I tell you this: people who haggle are not hags.  They are brilliant.  Even if you only ask for a dollar less than the asking price, you can almost always get a better deal.  Why not get more for your money?  If you are the shy type who is afraid to negotiate, remember this: you are doing these people a favour by taking their old junk off their hands.  They are probably happy to get ANY money for it, since whatever’s leftover will likely go to Goodwill.  The worst they can do is say no, in which case you either decide how badly you want the item—if you want it so bad your teeth hurt, offer more.  If you could walk away and never give it another thought, do that.  (It also helps to ask in your sweetest, most non-argumentative voice.  Being too aggressive makes people feel defensive, as if you think there’s no way their stuff is POSSIBLY worth what they’re asking.  You never want to make sellers feel this way, or else you’re doomed.  Be sweet.)

3.  If at all possible, take a GPS. We had two days of solid yard-saleing joy, thanks to our Garmin Nuvi Some Big Number GPS. With a GPS, you can set in an address of a sale posted on Craigslist, and work your way there via any sale signs you see along the way.

Garmin NuviMeet Tips, the GPS who has saved our hides on more than one occasion.  We heart Tips.

With a GPS, you can remain on a general course without getting lost by all the confusing detours.  It is very time-effective.  Borrow a friend’s if you don’t have one, or maybe just invest in a cheap one if you’re a frequent finder (of deals, that is).

4.  Go with a friend. Even if it means you’ll probably want to kill each other by the end of the day (or maybe that’s just me and my sister when we get hungry…), it really helps to have another set of eyes watching for signs.

Seven Dollar BasketsEven if your friend refuses to post for a decent picture, you’re still likely to have good times.

Also, between the two of us, my sister and I were able to mostly avoid hitting up the same sales twice (sounds sill, but it can get kind of confusing in Phoenix neighborhoods).  Two is better than one.  Just make sure the friend won’t steal your deals—it’s best to be working on a similar project together, so all the good finds contribute to the greater good.

5.  Take provisions. No matter where you live, this means some sort of snack—you never know if a sale is going to offer treats as part of their wares, so it’s best to be prepared.  Also, the fact that you’re shopping yard sales likely indicates a margin of frugality in your life, and we all know it’s cheaper to eat from home rather than from Taco Bell™ (there’s a time and a place for Taco Bell™, though, and for me, it’s any time, anywhere; but I digress).  If you live in Arizona, “provisions” could also mean extra sunscreen and water bottles—two things you should never leave home without anyway.

So there you have it—five of the best things you can do for yourself to become a deal-finding fiend.

And now, the deal reveal you’ve all been waiting for…

Yard Sale DealsBlack pedestal with glass dome cover (not pictured): free.  Pile of baskets: $3.00.

Live Laugh Love SignLive Laugh Love Sign: $10.00 (to be painted over {“Live Laugh Love” is a fine sentiment, but I’m not a fan of the colour}).  Sturdy wire basket: $1.00.

Skinny Pedastal TableSkinny wooden pedestal table, reminiscent of my two favourite Goodwill™ finds back in Canada: $5.00.

Rabbit HutchRabbit Hutch: $60.00.  (Just kidding, we didn’t buy this Craigslist find, but we did go look at it.  And seriously considered it.  It does have a sort of charm of its own, don’t you think?)

And now, for the absolute biggest steal of the entire weekend…the steal of a deal my mind can’t stop thinking about…the one thing I’m desperate to take back to Canada with me instead of leaving behind for my dear mother…

Sofa ChairDecrepit old sofa chair with dog hair and chewed off knobs and tattered fabric and missing caning…$1.00.  ONE dollar.  The poor schmucks were giggling when we offered real money for it—they were planning to take it to Goodwill™ when nobody bought it from their yard sale.

One Dollar Yard Sale SofaI just love it when other people don’t see the potential that I do.  Even if it costs $100.00 to get this sofa/chair recovered, it would still be a smoking deal.

Yard Sale FindSuckers.

I know The Nester and her friend had some enormous success a few weeks ago; what about you?  Anyone else find something great last weekend?  Or are you planning to go this weekend?  I can’t wait to get back to Canada to do some thrifting of my own…

About Camille

I'm Camille. I have a butt-chin. I live in Canada. I was born in Arizona. I like Diet Dr. Pepper. Hello. You can find me on Twitter @archiveslives, Facebook at, instagram at ArchivesLives, and elsewhere.
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11 Responses to How to Find Deals at Yard Sales/Garage Sales/Moving Sales/Rummage Sales

  1. HeatherPride says:

    You know, I have NEVER been to a garage sale?? But I think you’re talking me into it!

  2. We’re having a big one at my house as a YW fundraiser…hope we have success on the opposite end…

  3. Holly Decker says:

    you are professional… and i must say, i am beyond pleased that you are an official reader of my blog :)

  4. I love that old sofa. Can’t wait to see what you do with it. And haggling is the best… especially with cars (that’s what we’re doing right now).

  5. Chloe says:

    Good tips! :)
    Do you know we don’t have garage sales here in Spain? I’ll never know how it is… *snif*

  6. ann marie says:


    This is my department.. and I wondered if you would do it justice.. YOU DID!
    As I was reading.. I would think “she’s not going to say this.. ” and you did!!!

    I may have to link to this post this next month.. I’m going to do some tips on how have a garage sale also..

    You got some great deals!! I love to see finds!! That bench is a KILLER deal and that wire basket is asking to be sent to me in Utah.. really it is. I can hear it.

    Can’t wait to see it all put together!!

    Again.. Loved this post!!

  7. Cyndi says:

    Awesome tips! I need a yardsale buddy :sniff: We also love that Garmin ;-)

  8. anna says:

    That couch is totally awesome. I’ve been much too lazy to go garage sale-ing. But when I’m not, I’ll remember your tips.

  9. Pingback: This Calls for Some Cheering Up | Archives of Our Lives

  10. Pingback: How to Find Deals at Yard Sales Garage Sales Moving Sales Rummage | adirondack chairs

  11. Excellent site, keep up the good work

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