The Art of Garage-Sale “Barbgaining”
The Art of Garage-Sale “Barbgaining”
People repeatedly ask where I shop to find such fabulous finds. The answer is … everywhere. Smart shopping is not whether you can find extraordinary things at local garage sales; rather it is a question of how and when you buy.
So, let\’s talk about “the deal.” Bargaining or negotiating the price of items is expected when shopping resale; garage sales, yard sales and estate sales, typically on the last day.
The trick is to get great buys while staying in the good graces of the seller so that each is satisfied with their transaction.
Within the process of saving some real dollars the novice shopper can benefit from a handful of common-sense rules:
Know your bottom line. When purchasing items at a garage sale it is helpful to know the retail value of the merchandise you want to purchase. Then, before you make that offer, decide on what you are willing to spend.
Have integrity. If your offer is accepted, be prepared to follow through and purchase the item.
Countering. If the seller counters, feel free to counter again. If your counter isn\’t accepted, decide whether to take the offer or not. If your counter is accepted, commit to buying the item.
Power in numbers. Sellers will often discount an entire purchase if a shopper buys multiple items. Therefore, it is typically a wise move to gather your goods together and make a bundle offer.
Possession is 10/10ths of the law. Always hold on to items you are considering. Many a transaction goes to another buyer because things under consideration are left for others to picked up. If an item is too big, stand next to it until you have made a transaction with the seller.
Offer in visible cash. Veteran bargain hunters swear that offers made with a visual display of money in hand are generally accepted. I\’ve tried it, and it works beautifully.
Be respectful of the seller. A good bargain hunter is sensitive to a seller\’s position and is respectful of the homeowner\’s pricing decisions. When making an offer ask, “What\’s the best that you will do on this item?” or “Would you take this amount for this piece?”
Know when to walk away. Often sellers are emotionally attached to their merchandise and price it above what a bargain hunter will pay. Despite what the price is, feel free to make an offer. Should they not accept, thank them and move on to another sale.
Watch for motivated sellers. Moving sales or downsizing sales are great pickings for the bargain seeker. Moving costs money. Sellers transporting items across country or into smaller digs don\’t want to pay movers for merchandise they no longer need. Downsizers and movers are motivated sellers who will drastically reduce their stock for fear of having to haul it to a charity facility for the simple tax benefit.
The quality of the merchandise often determines the resale price. There are dollar buyers and there are serious buyers. Thrifty shoppers that come across a high-end sale should be aware that this type of sale may not match their pocketbooks. There are plenty of sales during the resale season, so put away your wallet and drive to the next bargain bin.
Ask for extras instead of a discount. When a seller isn\’t willing to bargain on a specific piece, consider thinking outside the box. I have suggested paying the asking price if a seller agrees to load items into my vehicle, deliver goods to my home or clean up a piece. People are very willing to offer their services if it means getting rid of items that they no longer need or want.
I worked with a client who needed to refresh her décor. At a recent estate sale we stopped to view the sparse merchandise spread out on the lawn. Seeing nothing of value, I asked the homeowner if he had anything else that we might look at. He said that he had an old armoire in the basement of the house that was too big to lug outside. After confirming that we wanted to see the aged piece, he led us down a set of rickety steps to a dank basement where the dirty antique loomed.
Immediately seeing the potential of the old piece I asked why he was selling it. It became apparent that the piece was too large and valueless to him; he simply wanted it out of the house. After a few more questions I found that he would be willing to let it go for $200.
I knew that we had just stumbled upon a real buy, but I wanted a better deal. I said to the seller, “We love the piece, but it is so big we\’re concerned about transporting it. We\’ll give you $150 for it if you help us load it into your truck and move it to her home.” It worked!
Known as the “Thrift Talk Diva,” Barb Tobias is a professional speaker and inspiring coach who renovates lives, homes and wardrobes by sticking her curious little nose into other people’s “thrifty business.” After a lifetime of transforming trash into treasure, this savvy mistress of thrift shares her secrets to finding deals, repurposing before tossing, reconstructing the tattered and renewing things others view as passé in her recent release…Tossed & Found; Where Frugal is Chic. Her “tell all” book is not simply a journey of personal transformation, but teaches a newly frugal nation how to purchase, purge and profit from thrift. Barb also has a monthly column in the Denver Post and blogs at www.thrifttalkdiva.