The art of the deal at yard sales

Posted by on April 29, 2011 in For buyers, Tips

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.



  1. Strike a deal at that yard sale | York's Yard Sale Secrets - [...] while back, we wrote about getting the best deal at yard sales, and since that time we’ve learned a ...

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