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Yard Sale Don'ts

How to make the most of a yard sale shopping spree.

Have you ever spent a Saturday morning going to yard sales? The signs are all around you, but don’t want to drive around aimlessly or waste money buying junk. Here are some tips for making the most of your yard sale shopping spree.

Don’t forget the Cash

Yard sales are not like a quick trip to the convenience store. You will need more than just your keys, cell phone, and credit card. You need coins and small bills in order to take home the best from a yard sale. Don’t ask a yard sale seller to break a $50 bill, it could be the end of your negotiations.  

Don’t sell Everything

Some things aren’t supposed to be sold on the front lawn. Don’t sell original art or jewelry at yard sales. There are not enough people shopping at a local yard sale to attract high prices. Yard sales are not the place to get big bucks for your heirlooms.

Don’t get up Early!

I have made it a lifelong rule that there is no good reason, other than a house fire, to get up before 8 AM. Don’t get up at the crack of dawn to try to beat everyone to a yard sale. You won’t miss a thing.

In fact, you can get the best prices around lunchtime as most yard sale hosts are ready to call it quits. By 12 noon, sellers are exhausted and they don’t care what you pay for that Wedgewood cachet pot as long as you take it with you. It is a great time to negotiate or even get stuff for free.

Don’t buy Damage

Condition is a key to value. If you pick up a completely tattered linen from a yard sale thinking that it is some fabulous antique Amish quilt, you are probably paying hard earned money for the same rag that your husband would use to wax the car. Someone else’s tattered piece isn’t automatically a wonderful antique. Don’t fantasize about a yard sale find. If it is in poor condition, leave it on the lawn.

Don’t buy Parts

I always say that buying parts is for auto mechanics not yard sale shoppers. Don’t buy incomplete sets or games with missing pieces. Buy complete games in their original boxes whenever possible. Instruction booklets increases value by 15 percent.

Don’t let it go until you know…what it’s worth!

As an antiques appraiser with a PhD and decades of market experience, I know that most hosts don’t bother to find out what their objects are worth before they schlep them from the attic out to the front lawn. Do your homework and you can go home with some great stuff from your neighbors’ yard sale.

Ph.D. antiques appraiser, author, and award-winning TV personality, Dr. Lori presents appraisal events nationwide. Dr. Lori is the star appraiser on the hit TV show, Auction Kings on Discovery channel. To learn about your antiques, visit www.DrLoriV.com, www.Facebook.com/DoctorLori or call (888) 431-1010.

tex April 30, 2012 at 03:48 PM
Dr. Lori clearly doesn't know anything about yard sales. All of the "best" stuff is gone within an hour. I realize that "good" merchandise at a yard sale is relative, but if you are looking for good condition used kids toys, strollers, sports equipment, etc., don't show up at noon thinking you'll have ANYTHING to choose from. I ran a yard sale a couple of years ago, and there were certain items that sold in the first 90 minutes that people were coming back to pick up--every 5 minutes, someone asked about those items--we had to put a SOLD sign on them.

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