The art of the deal at yard sales

Getting a good deal at a yard sale is a bit of an art, but in this economy, no one is going to blame you for pinching pennies at a yard sale. After all, the seller should expect some sort of haggling to take place.

Cars were already lining the road Friday morning for the Sherman Oaks community's yard sale in East Manchester Township. The sale is often so busy that vehicles fill both sides of the development's streets. (Laura Simcoe photo)

  • Unmarked Items: When an item isn’t marked, don’t ask “how much is this?” Such a question lets them lead the barganing session. Instead, you should suggest a price, and make it a low one. Sometimes, frazzled sellers will agree with whatever you say; sometimes they’ll counter your price. Either way, you’re sure to get a decent deal if you initiate the haggle.
  • Buy in bulk: When yard sale items are offered in bulk — you know, when they have “2 for a dollar” prices — push the deal a little farther by buying in volume. The seller isn’t giving up much if he agrees to “5 for $2″ or even “20 for $6.”  Even better, sometimes sellers will agree to an offer that takes an entire  lot off their hands.
  • Just about over: Yard sale hosts grow more desperate in the waning hours of their sale. That, of course, is the perfect time for you to arrive and start working on better deals. If they seem reluctant, remind them that they won’t have to worry about packing it away if you take it home. (On the reverse, it’s often considered bad form to try haggling in the first hours of a sale.)
  • Pay what you bargained for: This is more a courtesy than a penny-pinching tip, but if you haggle with a seller over a price, say reducing a $5-item to $3, don’t hand the seller a $5 bill. It’s just disrespectful. Give them three one-dollar bills — or better yet two one-dollar bills and four quarters just to show them you’re scraping for it. If all you have is that $5 bill, then suggest $3 for the $5-priced item and try to make a deal for another item with your ultimate intent of getting two items for $5.

Click here for The Dispatch classifieds full yard sale listings. Got a question for the Yard Sale Secrets team? Leave a comment below.

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This weekend’s best bets

Hard to believe by this morning’s storms, but this weekend actually should be a good one for yard-salers. A bit cooler and sunny…we’ll get to the forecast after our picks of where to shop. And boy, oh boy, are there places to go yard-saling. Here’s some of the bigger ones.


  • In Spry is a Friday and Saturday indoor yard sale at Otterbein UM Church, 50 School St. 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. both days featuring furniture, electronics, lines, camera lenses and more. Chicken corn soup and baked goods, to boot.
  • Over in Mount Wolf ‘s Sherman Oaks development is a 40-plus home yard sale we’re told is great for baby items and kids clothes. The development borders John Rudy Park and the sale is Friday and Saturday 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Woodlyn Terrace on the East End has a seven-home yard sale Friday and Saturday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.  that has different houses participating each day. Here you’ll find antiques, kids clothes, bedding and furniture and Polish pottery (interesting).
  • On the west end, a 5o-plus home sale at Lexington Meadows (off Taxville, Derry and Sunset roads) is Friday and Saturday 8 a.m. to ?.
  • West York’s Quail Heights development community yard sale  is Friday and Saturday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Again, look for signs off Taxville, Sunset and Derry.
  • Want to find some good bargains and help a good cause at the same time? Go to UCP of South Central Pa.’s  Hanover office Friday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. for a Huge Indoor Yard Sale. Proceeds support children’s programs at UCP, such as scholarships, equipment and supplies. Items for sale include children’s clothing, toys and household items. Set your GPS for 788 Cherry Tree Court, Hanover.
  • If you’re over in Hanover, you might want to head up to East Berlin for the Biggest Yard Sale in Adams County! (hey, we don’t name them). This one’s Saturday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the East Berlin Community Center at 405 North Ave. and features 250 outside and 40 indoor spaces. And food: chicken corn and ham and bean soups. Ad says it’s to be held rain, shine or mud!

Click here for The Dispatch classifieds full yard sale listings.


We like today’s ad for the Indoor Moving Sale at 60 Knoll Lane (off North George before Emigsville.) It’s got a great WOW! sign atop the ad, but the best part is what’s for sale: “70 years accumulation of stuff.” Sounds like a whole life’s worth of goods, including (and you don’t get this often) World War II German military knives. Cool.


Friday, after a tumultuous Thursday, is expected to be a high of 62 with more clouds than sun. Watch out for muddy areas and wet lawns. Saturday, the high is 70, with more sun than clouds.

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Pricing and organizing your sale

This could be it. We hate to put the jinx on it, but it looks like this weekend could finally be a good yard sale weekend.

We’re going to operate under the assumption the weather forecasters are correct in saying this weekend will be a beauty.

So, today’s Tips for Sellers centers on how to price and how to organize a yard sale.


Rule #1: Put prices on everything. We mean everything. Nothing will annoy people more than picking up something at a yard sale and having to ask what the price is. And it creates more work for the seller, too.

Group pricing is a great way to cover similar items. Example: All paperbacks 50 cents; or baby clothing, $1 each.

Rule #2: Make prices visible. If you buy price tags, make sure you place them in a prominent place on each item. (Just a hint: Sticker price tags have a tendency to fall off.)

Rule #3: Start your sale with cash on hand and keep it in a money box. (Guard your money box at all times, especially during busy times of your sale. Having a friend or family member work with you certainly helps. )

We like to have at least $85 to start with, and it’s very important to have enough small bills. You’ll be breaking lots of $20s.  We start with $25 in $1 bills, $20 in $5 bills and $40 in $10 bills.

Don’t forget lots of change, particularly if you have any items less than $1. Some sellers don’t want to handle change at all, so they price everything at at least $1. But your wares better be worth at least $1. Which brings us to…

How to price: This is a yard sale, not eBay or Craigslist. If you’re expecting to earn back the price you paid for an item, don’t put it out at a yard sale.

Yorkers are particularly shrewd when it comes to yard sales and expect to find bargains there.  We’ll discuss what to charge for what in a future blog, but suffice it to say the cheaper, the better.


Rule #1: Put out your bigger items closer to the road, where folks just driving by (and they will) will be enticed to stop and get out of their car. Some people shop by drive-bys and won’t get out of their car until they check it out curbside first. Draw them in with lots to look at.

Rule #2: Arrange your tables so it’s easy to maneuver. Think how you like to shop at yard sales, and set your own sale up to mirror that.

Rule #3: Arrange clothing by gender and size, if you can. At the very least, keep babies clothes separate from teenager’s clothes.  Hint:  Check all pockets for personal items and, better yet, money before you put it out.  At least one of us once pocketed a $20 bill in a yard sale purse she bought.

Rule #4: Arrange books and CDs in a box so prospective buyers can see the titles without having to sort.

Rule #5: Have grocery store bags on hand for shoppers to use.


And now, the highly anticipated weekend weather watch: Friday looks to be about 64,  with a chance of early sprinkles, but nothing appreciable. Could be a lovely day to sit outside. But Saturday will be even nicer, with passing clouds and a high of 71 degrees. YIPPEE!!!!

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Lovely weekend, but not for yard sales

Well, fellow yard-salers, this past weekend was pretty much a bust. Between the holiday and the weather, it was slim-pickins’.

The good news, if we dare to dream, is that this coming weekend is supposed to be…sunny. Yep, we said sunny. Unbelievable.

Accuweather is forecasting scattered showers every day until Friday and Saturday. So if you’ve put off holding your own yard sale, this could be the week. Finally.

Come back Wednesday, for our weekly Tips for Sellers.

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This weekend’s yard sale outlook

The yard sale season is not off to a good start. It looks like rain is in the forecast again for this weekend.  But that is not going to stop the die-hard yard-saler from stopping by one of our Best Bets.

Here are some highlights of what’s being offered, based on ads placed in The York Dispatch Classifieds section.


  • If you’re out in Dover, check out the barn sale today, Friday and Saturday at 5541 N. Salem Church Road,  starting at 7 a.m. each day. This sale has antiques, furniture, collectibles and tools — you can probably get your husband to tag along to this one.
  • In the New Freedom area is a community yard sale with more than 50 vendors at the Mason Dixon Farm Market located off I-83 on the Mason-Dixon Line. The sale starts on Saturday at 9 a.m. This one has a rain date of April 30.
  • There is a moving sale at 1768 Sagamore Drive on Saturday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. You will find new and used women’s clothing, kitchen and household items, computer desk, treadmill, CDs and albums and much more. Rain or Shine.


Looks like Friday morning might be the best time to venture out to yard sales this weekend. Rain will return to the area on Friday afternoon with temperatures in the low 50s.

Showers and thunderstorms are in the forecast Saturday, with highs in the upper 60s. Hopefully NEXT weekend will bring sunny skies to the area, making it a better weekend for yard sales.

YARD AND GARAGE SALE classified listings are here.

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