Some people just seem to always be able to make great buys at yard sales, while others can't find anything worthwhile. Here are some strategies to use when yard sale shopping to ensure you get the best bargains.

garage sale thrift Image Flickr Eastlaketimes

Check advertising

See where yard sales are advertised in your town. Check these ads out onThursday and Friday for the upcoming weekend's yard sales. In my area, there is a Yard Sales section in the classified section of the local paper on Thursdays and Fridays. Also check your local Craigslist garage sale section, your local website, and any local sale pages on Plan out what sales you want to concentrate your efforts on.

Get ready the night before

Prepare yourself the night before by getting some change and small bills together. It is always better to pay with small bills at yard sales. If you have exact change and ask for a discount, you can often get it. Make sure your car is cleaned out so you can fit any large finds. Lay out some comfortable clothes to wear and set your coffee pot timer or make your coffee so you just have to turn it on in the morning.

The early bird gets the worm

Get up early - Be ready to hot the road by 7 AM on Saturday morning to beat the competition to the early sales. If you have pre-planned your route, you can start with the early sales and work your way back to the 8 AM sales. Keep an eye out for yard sale signs as you go. Some of the best finds can be made at unadvertised sales that just seem to pop up along your route.


Some bargaining is expected in the yard sale business. Sometimes sellers will be firm on prices early, but may drop their prices as the morning wears on. If you see something you like, but the price is firm early, try stopping by again at 10 or 11 AM, as the seller may be willing to bargain. If they are still hesitant, consider making an offer and leaving your name and cell phone number in case they change their mind. It's been known to work. Try bargaining more later in the day as many sellers would rather make a sale than repack the items again.


Many sellers donate whatever doesn't sell to Goodwill or the local thrift store. Yard sale pros know to visit these stores on Monday or Tuesday when the weekend's unsold yard sale items will be put out for sale.

Good luck to you in your yard sale treasure hunting!