Here are some of the rules that I use for shopping at yard sales. These are my rules that I use for myself. Some may work for you and some may not. Feel free to leave a comment telling me what rules you have when shopping at yard sales.
The Olive Rules, where to go:
- Pray before starting. I pray for specific needs or wants that we may have and I pray that I would make wise use of our family’s resources.
- Don’t buy a paper, check sale ads or research the route. I don’t have time to do this. I’ve found that sometimes the best “sounding” sales are not really the best and you can end up wasting valuable time and gas. (Remember, these are my rules I know I may miss some great sales, but God has always provided what we needed.)
- Have a regular or semi-regular route. I always drive the same loop and just follow signs. This allows you to learn the area and more easily find sales that are not signed well. If you are regular you will also get to know several people who have regular sales. Remember my Pottery Barn connection?
- Leave early but not too early. I know from hosting yard sales that people will show up WAY TOO EARLY.
- Set a time limit before beginning. This allows my family to know when to expect me home and I am not tempted to stop at “just one more sale”. My normal schedule is 7-9 on a Saturday morning. During the late fall or early spring I move that to 8-10.
- Stop at every yard sale, even the ones that don’t look appealing. This is the hardest rule to follow and deserves some explanation. I have found some of the best bargains at yard sales that I would not have chosen to stopped at. I still regularly have to force myself to obey this rule, but I have found that the payoff when I find something is worth the small amount of time wasted at sales that truly have nothing to offer.
- This rule is related to #5, look at every part of each yard sale. Again, sometimes the item that you are looking for will be in the oddest place, so look over everything that they have out.
The Olive Guidelines, what to buy/what not to buy:
- Keep a list of sizes and needs for clothing.
- Keep a list of decorating ideas or areas that need work. (Remember the empty walls in the boys room? That is an area that has been on my list.) Have measurements, color samples, etc available.
- Have a list of items that sell well on EBay. I have bought several things that I have turned around and sold on EBay for a large profit thus allowing me to yard sale for free. (I only do this if my profit margin is going to be large. i.e. I’ve bought several things for $5 or less that I have sold for more than $40)
- Purchase inexpensive books in nice condition to resell to your local used book store. I know that if I can purchase nice books for a quarter or less, I will be able to make money on the resale. I generally earn at least $30 each time I head to our local used book store.
- Look for inexpensive items that are brand new or still in the packaging to use for hostess or thank you gifts.
- Purchase paper plates, napkins, etc. that are still in the packaging to include with meals that you make for those who are sick, just had a baby or are moving.
- Remember to think about ways to re-purpose an item, but ONLY if you will really do it. If you have anything at home that you purchased to re-purpose and have not done it yet, then skip it.
- Remember that wood furniture can be painted.
- Remember that you don’t have to keep an item forever. I purchased beach chairs and a boogie board, just before our trip to the beach. It was worth the $1.50 to have the use of those items for the week while we were at the beach.
- USE YOUR NOSE. Trust me.
The Olive Plan, how we budget:
- We have money set aside for spending at yard sales.
- If I make money by selling something that I bought at a yard sale, that goes back into our yard sale budget. (That is called motivation.)
- If I buy a birthday gift, that comes out of our gift budget, not the yard sale budget.
- If I buy needed clothing, that is on our clothing list, that comes out of our clothing budget.
- Furniture may come out of our household budget. For example, currently our couch in the family room has a large and thanks to the children, getting larger rip in it. We are currently saving to buy a new couch. So, if I find a couch at a yard sale, I don’t need to have all of that money in my yard sale fund.
Now what are YOUR rules for efficient and profitable yard sale shopping?
Read more about yard sale-ing here in the grove.