For some, secondhand shopping is just a thing to do on a lazy summer weekend in the hopes of finding a cool bargain, while for others, it’s equal parts an art, a science, and a treasure hunt. From getting a fabulous and unexpected item to getting an even lower price than what’s on the tag (or box), there are many ways of getting the absolute most bang for your buck.
If great deals on some truly great bargains sound like something you want this season (especially since spring cleaning means that people are decluttering their homes), then our handy guide will put you on the level of professional garage sale buyers.
The early bird gets the best worm
Like in many aspects of life, arriving early means you have an advantage when bargain hunting. By getting there before most people, you have the best selection of items available, a fresh mind to haggle, and more time in your hands to check out every vendor or table in the place. To plan your day better, use apps like Yard Sale Treasure Map, which will let you find yard sales and flea markets near you.
Don’t be afraid to compare prices on the fly
Sometimes it’s hard to know if you’re getting a good deal on certain items, right? Well, the best way to remedy that is to cross-reference the price with other similar items, and you can do so with the eBay app. If it’s cheaper than the averaged listed price on eBay, then it’s a bonafide bargain.
Negotiate the right way
Many sellers in flea markets and yard sales are definitely expecting to haggle with people over the price of their wares, but you should still avoid insulting them by lowballing it too much. In general, try not to go for lower than half of what they’re asking, or gather up a few things from their table and ask for a bulk discount; the secret is not being too pushy (or cheap), but creative.
Be friendly with the sellers
Even if you’re not buying anything on that particular day, being nice to the booth owners at a flea market will help them remember you in the future, which could get you some nice discounts or first dibs on new and interesting items. It pays to be friendly! Make it sincere, however, because it might be too transparent that you’re only hunting for a lower price, and it might have the opposite effect on them.
Know when to make a purchase and when to walk away
If you find an item that you really, really gotta have, chances are someone else will feel the same way if you don’t take it with you right then and there. Play it safe and buy it because it won’t be there if you decide to go back for it (haggle a little bit if the price is too steep).
On the contrary, if you find something that you like but won’t lose any sleep if you don’t get it, go back to it before leaving; if it’s late enough and the item is still there, you might get a nice discount on it. This applies to most sellers trying to make the final sales of the day before closing; try it out!
Know yourself (and your stuff)
It doesn’t matter how much of a bargain something is: If you already have one of it, what’s the use of getting another? Clothes, furniture, records, books, etc., all of them might look like a great deal at the market or garage sale, but if you don’t really need it then you’re only creating more clutter for your home. Who knows, after organizing and cleaning your home, you might realize that you’re the one who’ll be having a yard sale!
Don’t buy future expenses
At the end of the day, you’re looking for good items at great prices, so if you buy, say, a bookshelf or another piece of furniture that’s cheap but also damaged, you might end up spending more than you think by fixing it up. That’s why it’s important to check their condition very well before actually paying for them, especially on bigger or delicate items.
There’s a lot of luck involved in finding good items and prices at garage sales and second hand shops, but following these tips will at least make sure that you have a fighting chance against seasoned bargain hunters and longtime sellers. Most important of all, though, have fun!