Saturday Steals: Yard Sale Tactics (A Review)

Inasmuch as last week’s Saturday Steals had a pathetic turnout (which is not to discredit the three participants who did show up—thanks, guys!), I have decided that you all might need a little help knowing exactly how to find steals and deals in the first place. I mean, if you are stealing and dealing challenged, how will you ever be able to join my good deal party?

Don’t worry, my friends. Camille will not abandon you in your time of distress. I will walk you through this process, and you will see that it is easy. You can steal. YOU CAN STEAL. Repeat after me: YOU…CAN…STEAL.

The following is a post I wrote last summer during my trip to Mesa while my sister and I were at the height of our steal-finding glory. Read it carefully. It will help you learn all you need to know for finding good steals at yard sales.

And make sure to stay tuned for a brand new tutorial next Saturday: How to Find Steals in Other Places than Your Neighbor’s Front Yard.


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

originally published May 25, 2009

My sister and I are on a quest to revamp my parents’ kitchen/dining room/great room.  We’re doing it (the 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.

Do’s and Dont’s of  Scrounging Up Amazing Deals at Yard Sales

1.  DO 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.

Take a variety of cash—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. That said…

2.  DO 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.) (Here’s a post I wrote not long ago about the finer points of haggling, if you’d like more information about this fine, fine art.)

3.  DO 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.  Do 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.  Do 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 metal farm 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.


So now you know all the tricks of my trade. Now it’s your turn! If you don’t have a steal ready yet this week, there’s still time to go sale-hopping on Saturday and write your post for Sunday (or next week).

If you do have your Steal posted, go ahead and link up right here, right now:

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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4 Responses to Saturday Steals: Yard Sale Tactics (A Review)

  1. Cristin says:

    Wow. $1.00. That is a great find!

  2. I am so so so in love with that black pedestal. And I was going to write a long, drawn-out comment about haggling and a high school economics assignment and souks in North Africa, then realized it’s likely no one cares and it’s late. So I’ll just say I envy your moxie.

  3. jami says:

    HA! I finally did it!

  4. Pingback: Archives of Our Lives » Saturday Steals: Office Steals (A Twofer)

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