Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Guest Post: Rummages Sales, Yard Sales & Garages Sales.....Oh My!

The garage sale season is almost upon us!  Yay for signs of spring!  I asked my dear friend, Lori, if she would write a guest post regarding this topic.  I used to think that I was frugal......then I met Lori.  We have been friends for quite awhile and I am continually impressed with her passion for living well but at the same time being extremely frugal.  Almost a decade ago, we both had our first-born daughters within a month of each other and Lori taught me how to make homemade diaper wipes.  She also introduced me to this amazing place called Savers.  You rock, Lori.  Thanks for this great post!

Seven years ago, my husband,  2 kids (we now have 4), and I moved to Lancaster, Pa.  I have always been thrify and had an eye for a good deal.  Upon our move to Lancaster, I developed a love for going to yard sales.  Yard-saling is a way of life around here.  From April-November you will find sales at every corner of the county.  If done properly, you can get some great steals!!

What do I love most about yard-saling?  Is it the thrill of the hunt or the reward of the good deal?  I'd say both.  Not only is yard-saling a hobby that I enjoy, but it has become a means for me to get what I need for our family by stretching our budget much further.    Many people have asked me,  "how do you find all that good stuff?"  There is no secret, it's simply trial and error.  But there are a few things I've learned along the way and thought I'd pass them along. 

Buy a map   In the area where we live, you can buy maps of our county.  They are very helpful when reading ads and trying to plan out your route for the day.  The $12 that you spend on a map will go a looooong way towards your success.  My map is shredded and ripped and falling apart.  I need a new one.  You can usually find them at your local convenience store.

Go often  To be a successful yard-saler, you simply must go!  I usually prefer Friday morning, but some like Saturdays.  You can't just go once or twice a year and then say, "I never have any luck when I go!!"  Get out and go often.  Many times a sale will be a total bomb.  Don't be discouraged or think of it as a waste of time.  Try again, you will certainly hit a good one at some point.

Go early  It really is true that the early bird gets the worm.  The best is if you can get up super early and go before your husband leaves for work!  I often do that, go to just a sale or 2 before my husband has to leave.  If I have a good sale coming, I often have a hard time sleeping the night before!

Don't be afraid to take your kids  If going w/out your kids is not an option, take them along!  You can find them all kinds of treasures, many times in the free box.  My older girls have become good shoppers, often finding things that they have been wanting.  We have gotten many good board games, books and toys because of their shopping eyes!

Most sales are in the spring and fall  There are not too many sales over the summer months, you will find them mostly in April/May and Sept./Oct.

Be a smart ad reader  I read two of my local newspapers to catch the sales.  The tricky part about ads is that some people over-advertise and then others under-advertise.  For example, not every ad that reads (Brand name kids clothes-excellent condition) is such.  Most of the time it is true, but not always.  I think that I have found the most success at the ones that tend to under-advertise.  For example, if the ad simply reads: kids clothes, primitive decor, Longenberger baskets, etc.  There is the clue.  Although you may not decorate with primitive decor, most people who put money into their house by buying things like Longaberger baskets will most likely have spent money on nice kids clothes as well.
Also along these lines, many people think that the best yard sale are the development sales.  Although these are good for some reasons (taking kids along) I find they are usually over-crowded and picked over.
I think my best sales are those that say 'multi-family".  There are usually large with lots of good stuff.  Again, not a given, but often true.

Stay local (most of the time!)  This is especially helpful if you have to drag your kids along or don't have a lot of time to kill.  I rarely yard-sale too far from my home.  I often see good ads for far away, but I don't usually have that much time.  I will occasionally venture out further if I have a lot of extra time or am going with someone.

Don't be afraid to ask questions  This has probably been the key to my continued success in regards to my kids clothing.  If you find someone who has clothes that you like and are the size that you need, ask them if they have the sale every year, when they usually have it, etc.  Then hit it again next year!  They want you to buy their stuff as much as you want to buy it.  Don't be shy, even ask for their phone number or e-mail address!  This past summer, I hit a sale I had been to a number of times.  When I arrived, the lady told me I could have whatever I wanted for free.  I got 2 enormous bags of brand name girls clothes without paying a dime.  I think she liked that I was her "frequent costumer" and just wanted to get the stuff off of her hands.

Have an eye for restoration  That ugly table could be really cute with a coat of paint.  What about pulling the out-of-date flowers off of that wreath?  New knobs and paint for that dresser?  My recent good find was a solid wood, silver end table for $2.  I painted it black and it looks very sharp!  It still needs a handle...
Shop ahead  I usually buy a year ahead for my kids clothes.  When all is right with the world, I have bins in order in the basement and if I purchase something, I wash it and just throw it in the appropiate bin.  When a new season comes around, it is so nice to just pull out the bin and have my child fully clothed!!  Here is a pic of my basement:
Not every find is a good deal!  Just because it is at a yard sale does not mean it is a good deal.  Most people in my area price very fair, but not all.  I have yard saled in different places and have been surprised at the high prices.  You might be better getting it on clearance at Target!

Beware of over-buying  This temptation strikes me most often in the area of my kids clothing.  I often see many cute things for only 50 cents, how could I possibly pass it up?!?!  Or, I'll open up the winter bin and realize that they have 3 pairs of khaki pants.  The more organized I am at home, the less tempted I am to over-buy.

I hope these tips help as we enter into another garage sale season.  Good luck finding deals!


  1. Great post:) That table is absolutely darling!!
    God Bless

  2. Happy Friday Follow. Visiting and now following you! You have a great blog- glad I found it! Looking forward to reading more.

    Have a great weekend Alyssa

  3. Love the pic of the bins!
    I have bins, but they are not at all organized.
    Great post!

  4. HI! Just stopped by through the Friday Follow to check out your blog! Looks interesting, I’m you’re newest follower! I’d love for you to come follow me back at Turning the Clock Back ( Have a great weekend!


  5. Great post. Happy Friday follow. I am a new follower!

  6. I love garage sales too. Will be doing a lot of that this summer.
    Found you on Friday Follow.

  7. LOVE YOUR BLOG.Happy Friday follow!!

  8. I'm visiting via Friday Follow..and am so happy I found your blog. I've really enjoyed looking through and reading your tips. I've become your newest follower and I will certainly be back. Come visit..this is the last 2 days of my apron giveaway..

  9. I am your newest follower!
    via Friday Follower
    Come by and see me!

  10. Great ideas. Found you on Friday Follow. I hope you'll come stop by our chaos soon.

  11. Thanks for the tips! Following back from Friday Follow!

  12. great post! fabulous tips... so very helpful! thanks! i'm friday following you back!

  13. Here from FF running behind this week

    Take a minute to check out my blog
    I Have a Misikko Hana flat Iron Giveaway Going over 100 dollar package and other giveaways also