Well, folks, it's THAT season again. Garage doors across America will be flung open as the warm weather descends and junk galore will be hauled out and sold to the highest bidder.
Welcome to Rummage Sale Season.
When one is seeking smart ways to save money, garage/rummage sales should be seriously considered! If you are of the opinion that garage sales are not sexy enough for a savvy shopper like you, I'd love to encourage you to de-saddle off that high-horse of thought as we consider what people may REALLY be thinking about "Rummage-ers"...
* People may say you (gAsP!) WALK in other people's garages and yards!!!
* They may say you...(drum-roll please!)...SAVE MONEY!
* Tongues could wag over the fact that you are not willing to cash in your 401K to invest in wardrobes for your children that are outgrown (on average) in
three to six months!
And, last but NOT least, people could say you...
* Are willing to wear clothes that have been previously worn by other HUMAN BEINGS!
If this all seems a bit silly, it's because it is absurd to think garage sales are not sexy for savvy shoppers. Being BROKE your whole life or wearing clothes that all belong to the VISA company ain't sexy, honey. Having money in the bank is cool and this is just one more way we can do it! That being said, here are some Rummage Sale Season tips that I have gleaned from fellow shopping friends and my own personal experience over the years...
1. Prepare! Bring cold, hard cash: money talks. Carry a list of items (clothes, toys, books, a bike, specific household things) that you will be seeking so you have focus when you shop. Find the sales: bookmark some local newspaper classifieds on your laptop and check on them every week or so. When you find a listing nearby that offers some of the items you are looking for, load up the kids and head out! It also helps to know what areas are nice neighborhoods as often (though not always) they offer items that are in good condition or have some of your favorite name-brands of clothing.
2. Negotiate. It's a garage sale, people! If they don't want to take a buck off the asking price, I sometimes wonder why they don't have the item bronzed and displayed in their home instead of selling it at a garage sale! Only in America do we tip-toe around bargaining, other countries expect it (and even enjoy the process). Done politely and with a smile, it can be a win-win for the seller and the buyer.
3. Involve the kiddos. Invite your children along (what else could you do with them anyway?) and let them bring some money from their piggy-banks to pick out a toy at each stop. You never know when a pirate sword or another fabulous Barbie may be discovered.
4. Plan ahead. If your child is like mine, it can be pretty much assumed that pants that fit just right this month will be looking like capris at the same time next year. If you have the room in a storage area (attic, basement, dry garage, etc.), label some large totes for each child and fill them up this spring with clothing they could wear NEXT year too. For example, my oldest is in 5T sizes right now, but when I'm out shopping, I'm on the look-out for 6 and 7 sized items to stash away because I know they will be needed soon. Sometimes, I've gotten lucky and scored clothes with the tags from the store still on them for only $1-$2 a pop! Also, if I am purchasing MANY items of clothes from one family's sale, I first mention I could be buying a lot if they'd consider giving me a 25% or 50% discount... I've never yet had someone say no! (:
5. Frugal Friends. Not only is it more fun to hit up a bunch of weekend sales with a friend, it's also what I like to call "shopping therapy". Another creative way to help out a friend is to see if they are needing anything (a pack n' play, clothes for their baby girl, etc.) and keep an eye out for those things while you are garage-sale-ing to either purchase for them or let them know where you saw the item they are in need of.
6. Reward yourself. Now that you saved all that money, Rummage-Sale-Sista (or Brotha), take out your lucky spouse on a date (wearing those cool new heels you scored for $4 bucks!) and celebrate your savings together!