As someone who has hosted many yard sales and gone to hundreds I feel pretty qualified to share some of my expertise with the world.
There is no way I could fit all of my tips in at once, so let’s just start with what to expect to pay. If you are selling then this would apply to what to expect to get.
There are many different factors, and you can find countless lists online that give price ideas for specific items, but as a general rule I like to expect to pay 90% off retail value.
I know it sounds crazy (especially to the person selling) but I have kept this rule of thumb for years and I always use it as a gauge when I am deciding whether or not I should jump on something.
Remember this is just a rough reference point to get you started. There are many things to keep in mind when using the 90% off rule whether buying or selling.
1. Some stuff will actually go for less
For example last weekend I got this old Little Tikes Picnic table for $2. If I bought one new it would be at least $50. However, this one is like 20+ years old and needs some TLC so it was a steal. I have pinned refurbishing ideas that I really hope to implement, but even if I threw it out tomorrow we have gotten our $2 worth out of it already for sure!
Some other examples maybe some jewelry that was once worth $35 is only going to sell for $1. Or a couch that was $800, but has been through the ringer and no one is going to pay more than $35 for it now.
It depends on the condition, age, and popularity.
2. Some stuff will go for more
On the contrary you can certainly ask or pay more than 90% off. A couple days ago I found an Ikea canopy like this one.
I had just been looking at the ones at the store and wanting it for the girls room so I know they retail for $20. The asking price was $5 and I jumped on it. I wasn’t thinking that I was tied down to the 90% off rule. I felt it was fair deal.
For all you sellers please keep in mind that yard sale clientele are looking for BARGAINS. If you have something valuable that you don’t want to give away for pennies you can always post it on Craig’s List or Ebay. That’s when you’ll get buyers looking for your specific item and they will pay more.
3. Items are often priced by category and not original value
For example books 50 cents, clothes $1, DVDs $2. You can’t get nitpicky about individually pricing everything. You can also usually pay less if you buy more. I call it bundling because that’s what they say on American Picker’s and it doesn’t get anymore pro than that right? I got all of these pajamas for $5 so it ended up being like 30 cents per set.
There were some really cute all matching PJ’s which I split between my daughter and niece. SCORE!
I actually don’t enjoy haggling. My personality is more likely to just skip something altogether rather than negotiate. ALTHOUGH, if I am really knowledgable about a product or the market prices in that area I am sometimes confident enough to do so. Knowing the 90% off rule has helped me a lot because even though I can’t stress enough that it’s a really rough estimate, it helps me stay focused and have a plan as I shop.
For example, this weekend I found some really ugly stained stackable lawn chairs (which we really need now that we have a yard) and I thought I could probably clean them up and spray paint them.
The lady wanted $3 a piece. I wanted $1 a piece and that’s what I ended up walking away with. She actually begged me to take them. I think we both felt good about the end results. The chairs are worth about $10 a pop in perfect condition, but they are badly stained so I am going to have to invest some time and money into them and she was probably going to end up throwing them in the garbage.
The point to this whole post is very simple. The baseline price for most items at garage sales is 10% (90% off) what it would retail for brand new in the store. I just loooove yard sales and they usually last through part of October in my area so I look forward to a couple more months of dirt cheap goodies.
Are you a yard sale junkie? I’d love to hear your tips!