I go to a lot of garage sales. I've been going to them for the better part of 35 years and would like to consider myself to be a garage sale expert.
Like nails on a chalkboard, there are 3 words that I hate to hear at a garage sale. Perhaps you feel the same way?
Any guesses as to what those three words are?
Make an offer.
Those three words are the bane of my existence at a garage sale. Don't get me wrong, I love to negotiate. I think it's one of the most fun parts of a garage sale. I have even shared with you my 5 best tips on negotiating at a garage sale. I just hate it when I ask the price and someone says to me "make an offer".
It happens nearly every weekend and almost instantly the hairs on my neck stand up and I start to shut down. So why do I hate hearing those words so much?
Let me tell you why. When someone says make an offer, they give you no jumping off point for negotiating. Typically, I'm asking the price on an item that isn't marked. I have an idea in my head of something I am willing to spend for that item, but the art of negotiating means that you need to at least know what you are dealing with.
My oldest son started a fairly lucrative reselling business this summer with a few of his friends. They bought and sold garage sale finds and on one Saturday a few weeks ago, my son wanted to go with me to garage sales so that I could give him a few pointers on what to look for that would resell well in our area.
My biggest tip to him during his reselling venture has been to buy what you know. I know a fair amount about furniture, vintage finds and clothing but know very little about electronics and musical instruments, which is something he knows a lot about. We all have our areas of expertise and we should use that to our advantage.
Aidan picked up a child's violin in the case that wasn't marked. He leaned to me and told me he's been wanting to get a violin, and so he asked the owners "how much". To which they replied "make an offer". So Aidan made an offer of $5. The offer ended up being insulting to them and they came back with a MUCH higher offer. Explaining that they hundreds of dollars for it and could resell it on craigslist for so much more.
They were insulted that Aidan had made such a low offer and couldn't stop mentioning it which is why mama bear stepped in and wondered why they didn't give a price in the first place since they so clearly had an idea in their mind of a price they wanted anyway.
Just this past weekend, it happened again. I saw a fun cruiser bike for sale with the cutest little basket on the front. I am not in the market for a bike, I just thought it was fun and for the right price, I could be persuaded. Again, there was no price marked, so I asked the owner how much. To which she replied to me "make an offer".
I have heard this line so many times now that I have started asking them what they think is fair since I don't like playing the "make an offer" game. If I want to pay $20 for the bike, but they want to get $125 for it, it's not worth my time even trying to negotiate. We aren't even starting on the same page.
There are plenty of items I pass up at sales because I know I can't get the marked price down into the range that I want to pay. I am a great negotiator, but I want to make a deal that everyone is happy with. Someone hosting a garage sale is more than welcome to price their items at whatever they want to, and I'm just as welcome to walk away and not buy an item that I think is unfairly priced.
If you are hosting a garage sale one of the worst things you can do is make a sign that says "make an offer" and put it on something. I see large pieces of furniture all the time sit unpurchased at sales because of this one mistake. I will pass up items at sales because I don't want to mess with the make an offer game and I know I'm not the only one. I'm fairly certain that if you want to sell your item, you have an idea of how much you would like for that item. Just mark it with that price. Don't be all passive aggressive and think you are doing the general public a good deed by putting a make an offer sticker on something. Your item won't sell.
The only time I want to hear make an offer is when you are buying or selling a house or a car. Please tell me I'm not the only one who hates these 3 words at garage sales.