How to negotiate at a garage sale-5 tips that will save you tons of money!

It's nearly garage sale season and one of the questions I always get asked is how do you negotiate.
I shared a few tips and tricks on this post last year, but I think it's time to revisit them so that we all can be prepared as we head out and hit the sales!


1. Know what you are dealing with

It's inevitable that every week I will come across a garage sale that doesn't have their items marked.
It's not my biggest garage sale pet peeve, though it is up there.
If the items at a sale are not marked you just don't know what you are dealing with.
If the items aren't marked, I typically find something that I want and ask the seller what they are asking for the item.
If we are really far off base, I usually just walk away.
You know, those garage sales where the prices are so high that the people would just rather keep their stuff.
If a seller wants $350 for a dresser, I know that I will probably not be able to get that dresser negotiated down to a price I am willing to pay, unless I am willing to pay close to the asking price.
But if they say that the clothes for example are a dollar a piece, then I know we are in the same ball park.

2. Bundle and save

I usually buy a lot of clothes and it's pretty typical that a garage sale doesn't have each item individually priced.  Again, lets say each clothing item is $1 a piece.  It's not unheard of at a person's sale that if I like one piece I usually like several items.  So say I find 14 articles of clothing.  I will usually go to the seller and say I have 14 items, would you take $10?
9 times out of 10 they will say yes.

3. Add up your items with the seller

The majority of the time when I go with an armload of items to the seller {usually if they are unmarked}, the seller will make a crazy out of no where price for the lot.  I like to ask periodically as I shop what the items price is so that I can have an idea and I think it forces the seller to think about the value of the item.  For example, books are a quarter, clothes are a dollar, etc...If I don't add the items up and ask how much the seller will take for the items that I have, usually the price they come up with is higher than the actual price they have quoted me.
 I have taken to adding up the items with the seller first and then asking for a lot price after we know the total.  10 items in your arms looks like the value should be much higher than the low garage sale price you are paying.  Especially if the seller isn't familiar with garage sale prices!  If my 10 items add up to $8, then I will ask if the seller will take $5.  This tactic works much better then just asking for nearly half of my stuff for free!

4. Be willing to walk away 

 This is huge!  If you want to negotiate for the sake of negotiating, then that is fine.  In fact, it's one of my favorite things to do!  If you have a bottom line, and the seller won't budge, then be willing to walk away.  It's quite common that I will put items back at a sale or reduce the items that I am buying if I am not getting as big of a discount or paying the price that I want to pay.
Don't be rude about it! Just put the item back and walk away.  Most of the time, the seller will change their mind as I walk down their driveway, other times they won't, and that is totally fine!

5. Start your negotiating low so you have wiggle room

Bargaining at a garage sale is fun for me.  I like to pay the lowest price possible and get the most high quality items possible.  Negotiating is part of having a garage sale and it's a two way street.  Assume that if you are going to offer a lower price, that the seller will come back with another {higher} offer that they are willing to take.  It's just part of the game.  If you start low, and you get your first asking price, then you had a major score.  Pat yourself on the back.  If you don't negotiate, you will never know if you could have gotten the items cheaper, but if you make an attempt to negotiate a lower price, you can leave with the satisfaction that you tried.  And you still might possibly come out with a better price!
Don't be unreasonable.  If the prices are fair and you are willing to pay them, don't haggle just to haggle.  That is, unless you are buying a huge lot of items from the seller, then I think that it's reasonable to offer a lot price {after you calculate your items of course!}.

For example, I went to a garage sale of a home school parent last summer.  This parent had some amazing books in their library at very reasonable prices.  Each book was $1 despite the sometimes high retail price.  I picked up 45 books and offered to pay her $40.  If I had only found 4 books I liked, I would not have asked her to take a lower price since I felt like the $1 asking price for pristine hard back books was worth the total.   If I had offered her $20 for the 45 books, that would have been unreasonable.
Tip number 5 and tip number 1 go hand in hand.  If the item you are interested in costs $15 but you are only willing to pay $1, don't be offended if your offer isn't taken.  Be polite, thank them, and walk away.
Hopefully these 5 tips help you negotiate your way to some great deals this garage sale season.
Do you have any tips you would like to add that I might have missed?

1 comment

Trish said...

I love these tips! I always feel so weird about negotiating at garage sales, and I think it's because I just don't feel confident in my "tactics." Maybe with your tips I can score some good deals :)

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