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Spring is here! I’m so tired of cold weather. I want to get outside, and one of my favorite outdoor activities is going to yard sales. I love hanging out at yard sales, negotiating for lower prices and coming away with something beautiful that I can use to decorate my home.
While shopping at yard sales is fun, I think it pays to be an organized shopper. By organized, I mean having everything you need to make the shopping experience pleasant and efficient.
So, now that it's officially spring, (I'm so glad about that.) I thought this would be a good time to put together some tips for successful shopping:
1. Take Measurements Before You Shop – You see a nice bookcase at a yard sale, but is it too tall for your den or playroom? You didn't anticipate buying furniture at the yard sale, but the asking price for the bookcase makes it too good to pass up. My advice: Before leaving home, take some measurements at your house. Measure the room dimensions and doorways of your living room, den and bedrooms. If you know the measurements of your house, you can buy large pieces of furniture with confidence.
2. Bring a Tape Measure – Bring a tape measure or ruler to yard sales so you can measure any furniture that you want to buy.
3. Write Down Your Color Schemes – You think that the vintage Persian rug at the yard sale will match the green in your living room curtains. At least, you think your curtains have some green in them. Hmm. Before leaving home for the yard sale, write down your color schemes. It will save you the headache of trying to remember all of the shades in your home’s decor while you're shopping.
4. Bring Cash – Although the homeowner might have a card reader, don’t count on it. Be prepared and bring cash, preferably in small bills. That will make it easier for the homeowner to make change.
5. Come Early – I always tell people to come early to estate sales and the same goes for yard sales. Get there as early as you can before the merchandise is picked over.
6. Bring Your Own Shopping Bags – If you have plastic shopping bags from the grocery store or some cloth bags, bring some with you to the yard sale. While some sellers provide shopping bags, that's not always the case. So, be prepared to bring your own.
7. Examine Merchandise Carefully – Items at yard sales are usually sold “as is.” Therefore, before buying anything, look it over carefully to spot signs of damage. Check clothing for stains, tears or loose seams. Examine porcelain for chips or cracks. I sometimes like to bring a magnifying glass with me to yard sales so I can spot flaws that are hard to see. If you find damage to an item, you can either haggle down the price or choose not to buy the item. At least you’ll know what you’re getting.
8. Bring a Price Guide – Invest in a basic price guide for antiques and collectibles. Price guides have information about the rarity and fair market price of old-time items. If you're at a yard sale and you see something interesting like a vintage board game, or pottery or glassware that looks expensive, you can check the price guide to see if the item is listed and what it’s worth to collectors.
9. Bring Bottled Water – In late spring and summer, at least where I live, it can get really hot in the afternoons. If you can, bring along a bottle of water so you can stay hydrated while you shop.
10. Dress Comfortably – If you feel good, you can shop longer. Wear loose clothing and put on a comfy pair of shoes or sneakers. And bring your sunglasses, too.
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