Garage Sale Tips — How to Negotiate

Yes, I know getting up at 6 a.m. on a Saturday morning should be a sin, but ladies, during garage sale season, it is so worth it. Chic vintage luggage, designer clothes, solid wood furniture and picture frames galore–I’ve gotten it all at garage sales.

I’ve long believed that garage sales are the place to go for the best prices on gently used items. While I’m still obsessed with thrift stores, coupon sites and Craigslist, all my very best deals came from garage sales. How, you ask? One simple word: negotiation.

Negotiation Tips and Tricks in Garage Sales

1. You Catch More Flies With Honey

You Catch More Flies With Honey

As the old saying goes, “you catch more flies with honey,” which really means that the nicer you are to people, the more inclined they are to help you out. Every time I ask for a reduction on a price, I just ask kindly, “Would you please consider $X for your item?”

Sometimes, if they are motivated sellers, they will say yes, so long as it’s a reasonable offer. And if the offer’s too low and they say no, then hey, no hard feelings.

2. Negotiate at the Beginning & End

How to Negotiate at Garage Sales

From someone who gets a thrill out of haggling, the best times to do so are at the very beginning and the very end of a garage sale. If you are the first person to a sale, you get first dibs on the selection. The downside is that the seller’s not as desperate in the morning as she will be later in the day. That’s when your job to show them that you’re their gal. Why wait until later in the day when you have an interested buyer right there?

Conversely, at the end of the sale, people are tired and hot, and they want to pack up and go inside. This is your best opportunity to lowball. I once got a huge chandelier for $2 simply because the sale was over, and the sellers were ready to pack up.

3. Cash Is King

Cash Is King

These days, no one will be taking checks or other forms of payment at garage sales. Make sure you’re prepped with a variety of smaller bills. Asking for change is often a deal-killer. The buyer gets more time to think about it and could have a change of heart.

4. Don’t Give The Seller More Work

Don’t Give The Seller More Work

Always go to a garage sale prepared to bring home whatever you might need. This means that if you are looking to refinish some furniture, you’re going to need a truck. Whether you borrow your brother’s vehicle or rent one from a home improvement store, don’t place the burden on the seller by asking them to deliver. Telling them you will take care of all the tough labor is a great negotiating point to ask them for a lower price.

5. Know When To Pass

Know When to Pass

In my years of garage sale-ing, I’ve found that some people, sometimes just don’t want to budge.  If you sense even a bit of anger (for whatever reason) from your seller, that’s when it’s time to walk away.

Garage sales are all about you getting a good deal and the seller getting to rid their home of excess. If you don’t get the deal you want and overspend, you won’t be happy in the long run, so stay sharp and only pay what you intended.

If you have a great garage sale story, please share it in the comments below!


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