Tips on How To Yardsale

Someone asked me recently to share my tips on how I yardsale.  How I do what I do and find all those great bargains out there?   Well, I thought I had shared a whole post on this, but apparently I have not done that in the past, or my search didn’t bring it up for me, so it is high time I shared all my secrets of yardsaling.

Really, these are not earth-shattering at all, but some basics of what I’ve learned in the last 15-20 years of thrifting.

  • First, I always check out the weekend paper wherever I might be living. Atlanta is great for yardsales and so was Birmingham.  I always check out the Classified ads under Garage/Yardsales to find out where they are going to be.  Neighborhood sales are my very fave, since you can hit so many houses in one outing, so during Spring and Fall, I definitely look for those ads in the paper.  Some sales start on Friday a.m. and some start on Saturday, so take note of that.  Craigslist also has listings for yardsales, so don’t forget to scour that site too.
  • Scout out your route and plan to leave early! That’s one of the biggest things I tell people.  You have to get out of bed early on a Saturday morning to find the best deals and the choicest pieces.  The old saying “the early bird gets the worm” didn’t come into vernacular without good reason! It’s totally true in yardsale world.  I try to arrive at least 15 to 30 minutes before the sale is scheduled to start.  Early is good, too early is not.  I don’t want to be that person sitting on the curb outside someone’s house before dawn.  That is TOO early! 😉
  • I’ve been asked before if it is necessary to always look for ritzy neighborhoods and whether they should steer clear of mediocre ones? Nope, not really.  I’ve had good luck at all price points of neighborhoods, from upscale to regular old middle-class.   It just depends on who lives there.  You can find some great vintage things at the sales of older folks.  They tend to hang on to some good stuff and when they get ready to sell, it’s a treasure trove.
  • Take plenty of cash! I’ve been known to forget to grab cash on a Friday night and get up bright and early Saturday with an empty wallet.  In that case, I have stopped into a drugstore or grocery store, bought a pack of gum and got cash back just to have some spending money for the yardsales.  That’s if the ATM is too far away. 🙂
  • Have a mental list (or a real one if you’re really organized) of things you are looking for. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve found just what I was looking for at a yardsale just by being patient and waiting it out.  Instead of rushing to the store, wait until you hit a few sales and just see if that item turns up.  It usually does for me.  If you have a certain piece of furniture in mind for a certain space, take a tape measure with you just to be sure it will fit.  Keep dimensions handy of those spaces you are looking to fill and you’ll know it when you find it.
  • As you arrive at a sale, train yourself to do a quick look around to see what might catch your eye first. You can always do the slow peruse later, but something might grab your attention right off the bat and you don’t want to lose out.   If you see something you might want to buy, pick it up in your hot little hands and hold onto it.  If you don’t, someone will surely come up right behind you and grab that precious thing you just had your eye on.  That’s happened to me a few times, but I learned quickly to hold on tight.
  • Don’t be afraid to bargain with the sellers, but be polite and don’t offend them by asking for a dirt cheap price in the first hour. If you go to yardsales often enough, you’ll know what is a good price and what isn’t.  If a sale is too high on everything, I’ll just look around and leave.  I figure they do not want to sell their stuff that bad.  But, most folks want to get rid of their things and will definitely deal with you, so ask politely if that is the best price or offer a price that is slightly lower than asking price and see what happens.  Most of the time you’ll get a hearty YES!
  • Don’t be afraid to dig through boxes and bins to see what’s hiding out. Some of the best finds can be hidden from sight and unless you dig, you might completely overlook a treasure.
  • Turn items over to see the brand name. Pull out drawers or look on the back of furniture to see if it’s marked anywhere. This can often tell you if something might be worth more or less.  Look for furniture with dovetail drawers, often a sign of a quality piece.  Most older furniture made in the 40’s and 50’s is MUCH better made than anything made today, even if back then it was just a mediocre piece.   If you see Made in China, it’s newer and not really a treasure. I love to check out where things are made.  Made in Italy really gets my attention.  They do quality work over there.
  • Train your eye to look at potential in yardsale pieces and not what they look like at the moment. So many of my favorite things didn’t look like much when I found them, but after I worked some magic on them, they were favorite finds and treasured renovations.  We all know the power of paint and it is one of the easiest ways to transform a yardale find.  Wrong color?  No problem, get out the paint.  Bad stain or nicked up piece?  No problem, paint it!
  • If you see something you love and the seller won’t budge on the price, offer to leave your name and phone number and ask them to call you if it doesn’t sell and they are willing to lower the price later. At the end of the day, many sellers are definitely willing to drop those prices just to get rid of stuff!

So, those are my top tips for yardsale success!  Anyone can find treasures out there, I’m convinced of that.  Some girls have told me that we have much better sales down here in the South than elsewhere around the country.  I don’t know how true that is, but I know that the 2 places I’ve lived, Atlanta and Birmingham, both have great neighborhoods and fantastic yardsales to be found.  So, I would suspect that is true in your state as well.

After all of that, I’m going to share with you some of my favorite finds that I’ve found at yardsales and thrifting.  There are so many to choose from, but these show how easy it would be to pass right over a find IF you don’t have the vision of changing it into something wonderful.

Remember, paint is king!

This chair was a lot of fun to do.  Painting it white and adding some collegiate fabric totally changed it from tired and granny to fun and fresh.  I paid $15 for the chair and sold it at my moving sale for $40, so did make a profit.  I’d love to do more of this type of redo, it’s fun to dream up a new look for an old piece.

This child’s dresser was found at an antique mall for $100 and I used it as an entertainment center.  Painting it, adding beadboard wallpaper to the door front and changing the knobs to a more funky vibe changed this piece dramatically too.  I still have this one.

I love this little demilune table and if I remember right, I paid $25 for it at a yardsale several years ago, more than I normally pay for something like this.  It’s a great little accent piece and painting it a moody blue-green updated it a lot.

A little sanding brought out some of the gold underneath.  I kept this piece too.

This plain and not exciting little laminate bookcase was found for $5 and I redid it for the Lovelady Center room redo.  Painting it the same blue-green gave it an instant update.

This half falling apart old vintage plant stand caught my eye for $10 and again, I used that blue-green paint and loved how it turned out.  Perfect for showing off a palm tree and I am still the owner of this fab piece.

Hope this gave you all some new inspiration on getting out there to see what you might find.  If you’ve never tried yardsales, I encourage you to give it a go.  They are so much fun!

There are a TON of parties out there to highlight all your projects, so please let’s keep this one about thrifty finds that were bought 2nd hand!

  1. Add your permalink to the link list, which is the actual post that you did for this party, NOT your general blog url. To get the actual post, after you publish the post, just click on the title and THAT will be your party post url. PLEASE try to get the correct url in the first time! :)
  2. Please add my button to your post or blog OR at least link back to this post in your post. That’s all I ask. It’s common courtesy to link back to the person having the party, so that all of your readers can find it too.
  3. Please do NOT link to an Etsy shop or something similar (even if you think it’s a fabulous deal) or I will delete the link. This party is for sharing thrifty finds from yardsales, thriftstores, or something along those lines. If I see that your post is not really on track with this theme AND you don’t link back, I’ll delete your link. Sorry, but I’d like to keep the party consistent! IF YOU SEE THAT YOUR LINK HAS BEEN DELETED, IT IS PROBABLY BECAUSE IT IS NOT IN LINE WITH THIS PARTY THEME.

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- Rhoda

Comments

  1. Fabulous tips, Rhoda!! Thanks for posting!

  2. Thanks for posting those great tips! 🙂 I linked up, thanks for hosting!!!

  3. Rhoda, I love the pieces you have done and am very inspired by your work. May I share a tip? I bring many wood pieces back to life by using a product I found called “Scratch Fix.” It is a magic marker type felt-tip stain for wood which covers scratches, mars and nicks. You can generally find it at Sherw’n-Wms paint stores for around $3.50. I use the light brown for pine and maple, and medium brown for darker woods. (It is better to start lighter; remove excess immediately with cloth.) Paint is great, but sometimes wood can shine with some TLC.

    P.S. I would love to know how you decide when to use spray paint vs. brush paint. I was surprised to read that you spray painted the rockers and brush painted the flower pots on your porch re-do. I would have guessed the opposites, but then I’m a novice. LOL!

    • Thanks, Lindy, for the reminder that not all stained pieces need to be painted. Totally true! I love many of my stained pieces and lots of those can be restained & updated with these methods.

      • Ohl Lindy, forgot to answer the 2nd part. If it is something with a lot of detail & not a lot of flat surfaces, I’ll use spray paint to save time. Those rocking chairs worked out great with the spray paint. I turned them upside down and sprayed underneath, then flipped them over and sprayed the top side. Easy & fast, I did 2 coats & the coverage was great. Would have taken much longer to brush that on.

        On the plastic flower pots, I already had the right color in a gallon of wall paint, so that is why I used a paintbrush on those. It was also fast and easy & I could easily paint them with the plants inside. I would have had to be careful with the plants with spray paint.

        Normally, I don’t use spray paint on large pieces of furniture, since the overlap marks can show up too easy on a flat surface. For dressers or armoires I’ll usually use a foam roller on those and paint by hand. But for smaller intricate pieces, spray paint is my friend!

  4. Love that plant stand! Great color and shape! Thanks a bunch for hosting!

  5. These are some really good tips.
    I cannot remember the last time I have been to a yard sale.
    I rarely go when its hot. Me and heat dont mix…lol

    Thanks so much for sharing these Rhoda!

    Rashon aka Mr. Goodwill Hunting

  6. People need to look beyond the obvious when they see a less than perfect piece. It really pays to have a vision, especially when the price is right! Most of my best and great finds have been in “less than ideal” neighborhoods. I find that so many of the “best” neighborhoods want top dollar for their junk. I want to pay the least amount possible for good “junque.” 🙂

  7. Hi Rhoda
    We are just heading out the door for home. Thought I would check to see if you have your post up. So happy to see it, because if I stay awake till be get home it will surprise me.:-) I just knew I would miss adding my link.
    My thrifty treasures are from the book fair. Great place to find old and worn books, for use in vignettes, at bargain prices.

  8. I am so with you on the furniture! I’d almost rather have anything old and well-made than new and cheap. Thanks for hosting the party!

    P.S. I tried linking my post with your party button only and I was denied because it said I “did not have a link to the main blog” in my post. I re-did it using your name linked instead and it actually worked. Not sure if you knew this or not since you list both as an option – just wanted to let you know so you were aware the button was qualifying as a link. Have a great week!

    • Hi, Jessica, I was trying out the option of only letting people link up who have a link back to me, but I took it off. Too much trouble, so I’ll just leave it as it was.

  9. I want to link, but it won’t let me! I’ll try later! Thanks for hosting!
    Debbie

  10. Awesome tips, Rhoda! Yardsale-ing is not for the faint of heart!
    Do you mind sharing the name of the blue green paint you used on a couple of these treasures? Just the shade I’m looking for a little furniture painting project. 🙂
    Thanks!!
    Heidi xo

  11. I graduated from UA, so I think that chair is quite amazing… My mom claims to be a “yardy queen,” so I am going to forward this post to her so she can see just how good or not good she is! I hope you had a great weekend!

  12. Thanks for sharing those tips. I had never thought about leaving my name in case an item I loved didn’t sell. Thanks for hosting the party!!

  13. Thanks for the tips and inspiration! I was just thinking about this and you have inspired me to head out this Friday and give it a try!

  14. Great thrifting tips, Rhoda! I wouldn’t have had the guts to get that plant stand, but you made it absolutely beautiful 🙂

  15. Wonderful pieces…
    thanks so much for hosting…

  16. Hi Rhoda! What great tips – thanks so much for sharing them! I linked up some new thrift/vintage treasures (#29) my mom and SIL picked up for me – boy do they know me well! I also went back and linked your post here within my post b/c I wanted to direct all my blog readers to your wonderful blog and great yardsale tips.

    http://sceneofthegrime.blogspot.com/2011/06/my-latest-vintage-n-thrift-treasures.html

    Much love and best wishes for a lovely week!
    Laurie from Scene of the Grime

  17. Great tips!! And thanks so much for hosting a great party. I can’t wait to see everyone’s scores!!

    🙂 Michell

  18. Thanks for the tips Rhoda. I’m not a big fan of yard sale but my sister and my best friends are. We are planning to attend one next weekend in Florida. I’m not sure though if I can attend. But they’re all hoping.

    I just want to add. Aside from Italian furniture sets, the ones from the Philippines are also great pieces. We have eight chairs shipped from Manila a couple of years ago. They’re made in the 70s. We just fixed and redecorated some of its parts.

  19. Dear Rhoda,
    I’m so excited to be back with Thrifty Treasures!!! I have found some AWESOME inexpensive treasures here, like vintage little silver spoons and vintage linens. I have to dig a lot to find the best pieces/not stained, but I love the hunt! I’m on such a tight budget, but…even if I had all the money in the world I would love going to markets and finding the best deals! I love the vintage things, too, because of their unique history!
    I pray that you are wonderful–I’ll send you an email this week!

    Hugs/blessings/thank you for hosting this awesome blog party each week,
    Lana

  20. Wow… you made me want to look for yard sales! I’m totally inspired and a bit wiser, thanks to you!

    Wishing you a very blessed week!

    xo

    Luciane at HomeBunch.com

  21. Heather says:

    Thanks for the tips, Rhoda!

    I’m going to try them out next weekend. You ROCK!! MUAH!

  22. What great tips, Rhoda! Have a great day!
    Lori
    http://www.lorimayinteriors.com/blog

  23. Great post, good tips and beautiful makeovers.
    My tips to add are: when you arrive, if you are not interrupting, say Hello to the sellers. A friendly face and a kind word make a connection and they often will be easier to bargain with.
    Compliment something even if you are not going to buy it.
    Make room in your vehicle before leaving home just in case you find an unexpected larger treasure. Unfortunately for me, if there is room I will fill it.
    It helps to go with a friend who is willing to help you load heavier items, but avoid those friends (or hubbys) who talk you out of something they can not see the potential in. Also try not to rummage with a friend who has exactly the same taste as you.

    It is not as simple as it sounds!

  24. Rhoda, you are a yardsale goddess! Thanks for the tips. Though I’ve been a Craigslist/thrift girl for a while, I’ve only just started hitting up yardsales. Though I suppose I’ve always had it in me since my dad CANNOT RESIST a yardsale or a flea market. 🙂

    Thanks for hosting the party! The project I shared is actually from a secondhand hotel furniture store, which is such an oddball place…everything is mildly hideous but definitely built to last! Good construction and nothing a little paint can’t fix. 🙂

  25. Carol Ann says:

    I’m an Auburn grad, so I personally think that chair would look better without the houndstooth and crimson! Do you ever go to Estate Sales?
    In this economy, I’m finding a lot of “bank-run” sales and let’s just say, they are a different animal than your regular run-of-the-mill estate/garage/yard sale. Much higher prices and no negotiating.

  26. As a girl living in a very small town, I live for the thrill of the yardsale hunt! Thanks for the tips. I’ll be sure to use them this weekend!

  27. Hi Rhoda,
    These are great tips! You have a real knack for giving things a facelift, and I think you would do great with an antique mall booth or an online store!

    I’m really enjoying it, and my hobby is paying off!

    I try to read your blog as much as possible and always look forward to your posts!

  28. Great tips! I’ve recently started visiting yard sales again. I love to have them but had gotten out of the habit of visiting them. Hoping to hit a lot of them this summer! Thank you for hosting the party Rhoda!

    Heather

  29. Thanks for hosting! You always find the BEST! Gotta love a deal.

  30. These are some great yard sale tips! Thanks for sharing your great finds and their transformations.
    Tammy

  31. Thanks for sharing with us, pretty awesome!

  32. Great tips Rhonda! Beautiful pieces, love them all!

Trackbacks

  1. […] Another great article for tips on yard saling here! […]

  2. […] p.s. I shared this post with Southern Hospitality’s thrifty treasures link party here! […]

  3. […] at Apron Thrift Girl’s Thrift Share Monday, Flea Market Finds at Her Library Adventures, Today’s Thrifty Treasures at Southern Hospitality, Nifty Thrifty Tuesdays at Coastal Charm, Thrifty Thursday at Tales from […]

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