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Here’s my strategy to have the most organized and efficient yard sale (garage sale, tag sale, estate sale, flea market) hunt.

I start on a Thursday night….  Why Thursday you ask?  Lately I’m finding that many people in the capital region are hosting their yard sales on Fridays as well as over the weekend.  There are two schools of thought.  Go on Friday to get the best selection before things are picked over, or go on Sunday when you think people will drop their prices the lowest because they don’t want to have to pack their things back up.

Research

Go online to the Times Union (or whatever your local paper may be) and go to their garage and estate sale section and copy and paste the ads I’d be interested in to a word document.  I also check Craig’s List and do the same thing.  As I’m doing this I try to group them all to geographic areas.  Check out  sales in more affluent areas.  People in these areas tend to replace things more often with higher quality items.  Though if you’re looking for antiques and vintage items you might do better in an older area of homes with retirees, etc.

How do I get there?

I put the addresses into a program such as Rand McNally, Map Quest, or Google Maps.  I use the “add additional location” feature that most mapping websites now offer.  I put in the addresses of the sales I’d like to visit.  Once they’re in the program and the pins are placed on the map, I can sort them by the best order to visit them.  I don’t want to be driving north and then south and back north again.  With gas hovering at $3/gallon I try to be smart about things and not be driving in all different directions.  Once I have a route planned I number the ads in the order I want to visit them.  I highlight the address and the hours of the yard sale.  When I’m in my car I program all the addresses into my GPS unit.  My Garmin has a “recently found” feature to make it easy to go to each address on my list.
**While writing this I discovered a cool site called Yard Sale Treasure Map that looks pretty cool for mapping routes as well.  I tried it out over the weekend and it works well, but if you want to modify the route or the order based on the time a yard sale is ending, I don’t believe it let’s you do this.  I’m still learning though….**

What do I bring with me and my interesting way to “haggle”?


I tend to bring a small tape measure, a note pad and pen, in a small purse or wallet with me. Other items that might be a good idea are sunglasses, sunblock, bubble wrap for fragile items, shopping bags, a couple of bottles of water, and some hand wipes for grimy items and to wipe your hands when they dirty.  I try to have small bills if possible and also load a small handful of change in the bottom.  I keep larger bills in a separate section of the wallet.  On more than one occasion while paying at a yard sale I’ve owed the person $10 – as I start pulling out singles, by the time I get up to $7 or $8 they say “that’s good enough, don’t worry about it.”  I just saved $2 or $3 without even saying a word.

Some people suggest picking out everything you’d like and then make them an offer on the lot of things.  If it adds up to $15 you could nicely ask them if they’d accept $12 for it all.  Have $12 in your hand when you ask – nobody wants to see you stuff that money back into your pocket if they say no.  If you have a $20 in your hand they’re less apt to drop their price, so bringing small bills is always a good idea.

Another way to get a good price is this one – if you’re buying a woman’s item wait until the wife is distracted and ask the husband and if it’s a male’s item wait until the husband is distracted and ask the wife.  If they’re not emotionally attached to the item, the opposite spouse is apt to give you a lower price to just get rid of the item.  Also they might not know the value of the item either.  I scored an authentic Coach purse for $3 this way once 😉

If you’re going to yard sales with your kids, have them pay for the purchases.  Many times people don’t like to take money from kids so they tell them to just take it, or they reduce the price.  Plus helps teach your kids how to handle money.

If you see an items that you’d like, but it’s priced higher than you’d like, you may try giving the yard sale host/hostess your name and number or a business card.  Tell them you’d like the item but don’t want to pay that much.  If they don’t sell it by the end of the day and would drop the price to give you a call.  You’ve got nothing to lose right?

I am not one to haggle.  It’s not in my nature.  I did have a situation which became humorous.  The person had an attachment for a Kitchen Aid mixer.  I asked how much they wanted for it.  (For the record I can’t stand it when people don’t put prices on their items.  I don’t like feeling like they change the price based on the appearance or actions of the person who asks)  When she told me $25 I said thank you and put the box back on the table.  She asked me how much I thought it should be.  I told her “I don’t know, but I can’t afford $25 right now.”  She kept pushing me “What would you be willing to pay?”  Finally I told her $7 or $8.  When she asked her husband he said “I paid like $40 for it and it’s never been used.”  I assured her it was fine, I respected that he wanted more for it, I just couldn’t afford it.  She went back and told her about my $7-$8 comment and he said “Well I really don’t want to pack it back into my garage so just give it to her for that.”  And that’s how I got it for $7.  I didn’t haggle, I didn’t intend to haggle, but by being honest and friendly I found a treasure.

Things to keep in mind.

Wood furniture can be refinished or repainted.  Last summer I got an end table, a plant stand, and two night stands.  I painted the plant stand and two night stands, put new hardware on the night stands and they look awesome!!  I recently picked up a desk – I’m still on the fence if I want to refinish it or if I want to paint it.

Smell things.  I know this kind of sounds silly, but if you’re a non-smoker buying something from a smoker’s home you might not be happy in the long run.  When you’re outside in the sun, it’s not always apparent unless you get up close and personal with the item.  Keep this in mind for books too.

If you’re looking for something specific ASK.  You could get lucky.  It’s possible the person has what you’re looking for in their basement and they didn’t think to put it out in their yard sale until you mentioned it.  Hey, it doesn’t hurt to ask right?

Be careful buying glass items.  I’ve learned to remove the price tag because on more than one occasion it was covering a chip or crack in the item.

Make sure you get what you pay for.  People have been known to buy a replacement item and place their old item in the old items box, so make sure you open the box to make sure what’s on the box picture is what’s really in there.

Check DVDs and CDs for scratches.  Also make sure you’re not buying Sponge Bob’s Greatest Hits and get home to find a slasher movie in it, etc.

Be friendly.  It’s more fun that way.

Things to keep in mind if you’re hosting a yard sale.

Stick to your times.  I cannot stress this enough!!!  There is nothing more frustrating than driving 15 miles and finding out you packed up your yard sale 3 hours early!

Take down your signs after.  As I’m driving around to the advertised sales, I always keep my eyes open for yard sale signs at the end of streets.  If your yard sale is over though, take down your sign so people like me don’t go on a wild goose chase looking for a yard sale that’s not going on!

Don’t try to get $5 for an item that has the Target price tag on it that says you got it for $1.50.

Do you like going to yard sales?
If so, do you have a strategy?
Have you had any cool finds?

Please comment and subscribe.

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Eva Markvoort - Picture taken off of CNN site courtesy of Markvoort

My friend David emailed me a story from CNN today.  It was about a 25-year-old girl who lived in a suburb of Vancouver Canada named Eva Markvoort who died on March 27th of cystic fibrosis.  For those of you who don’t know cystic fibrosis is an incurable disease that causes mucus to accumulate in the lungs.

She started her blog in 2006 and narrated it to chronicle her life.  She called the blog 65RedRoses.  The name came from her childhood inability to pronounce cystic fibrosis.  She and many children refer to the disease as “65 roses.”  Markvoort added the word red because it was her favorite color.

The blog followed her on her journey with her disease while she waited for a double lung transplant.  Eva GOT her lung transplant and appeared to be on the path of recovery.  Almost 2 years after, her body started rejecting the lungs and every breath became a battle.  Her blog reflected the battle and at time was hard-core and raw as far as her vomiting, gasping for breath, etc.

Despite her physical difficulties, Eva kept the main focus of her blogging to be about love.  In a video entry where she talks about her impending death, Markvoort said: “I think I’m very lucky, because I’ve loved more than you could possibly think, could possibly imagine. So I’m celebrating that: celebrating my life.”

Photo from Eva's 65RedRoses - This made me smile

From CNN:

She championed cystic fibrosis awareness and organ donations. From Los Angeles to Poland, letters, stuffed animals and cards poured into her hospital room.

“I felt so selfish when I stumbled across your [LiveJournal] on here, because I’ve been smoking cigarettes for years, taking my lungs for granted. You helped me quit the worst habit I’ve ever had,” one wrote.

When Markvoort was too frail, she dictated blog posts to her friends and family.

“She had already processed the concept of dying,” her mother said. “And for her, she came to terms with it quite quickly. For her it was like, ‘Oh, my gosh, I don’t know how much time I have. I have things to say.’ There was a sense of urgency on her part.”

Sometimes, her posts have no words, just pictures of her and her loved ones, with their eyes crossed, tongues sticking out and comical gestures.

So today say a prayer for a girl who fought to the end and spread the message of love while on her journey.  Check out her blog.  I particularly enjoyed the pictures tag.  You can tell she was loved by her friends and family.

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Helen Keller Quote about Happiness

I get forwards all the time from various friends of mine.  Most of them I’ve seen over and over and over….
I don’t think I’ve ever seen this one and it caught my eye.
I would change the title of it though to How to Have a Happier Life
I’ll leave my comments in parenthesis and italics

HOW TO STAY YOUNG

1. Throw out nonessential numbers. This includes age, weight and height. Let the doctors worry about them. That is why you pay ‘them’
(Why do we care so much about these things.  Weight I can understand a little bit.  A person can change their weight with some effort.  Stressing about age and height though…  these are two things in your life that no matter how hard you try you will not change, so why waste the energy?)

2. Keep only cheerful friends. The grouches pull you down.
(I tell all my friends “rid your life of toxic people and do whatever you can to keep toxic people out of your life.”)

3. Keep learning. Learn more about the computer, crafts, gardening, whatever. Never let the brain idle. ‘An idle mind is the devil’s workshop.’
(I like this one ALOT!!  Sometimes learning something from a child is kinda cool too….)

4. Enjoy the simple things.
(Like listening to nature around you.  Hugging the one’s you love.  Smiling at a stranger and watching it make their day.  Read a book.  Write a blog.)

5. Laugh often, long and loud. Laugh until you gasp for breath.
(Make sure you really mean it though.  When all else fails find something on comedy central or call my friend Scott, he can make almost anyone laugh….)

6. The tears happen. Endure, grieve, and move on. The only person, who is with us our entire life, is ourselves. Be ALIVE while you are alive.
(It’s okay to cry.  Use them to heal yourself, but don’t dwell on the bad things….)

7. Surround yourself with what you love , whether it’s family, pets, keepsakes, music, plants, hobbies, whatever. Your home is your refuge.
(This is another great one!  Friends, family, pets, motorcycles etc….)

8. Cherish your health: If it is good, preserve it. If it is unstable, improve it. If it is beyond what you can improve, get help.
(This means quit smoking and try to eat a little bit healthier than you used to.  I’ve been trying to cook more new things and sometimes it helps.)

9. Don’t take guilt trips. Take a trip to the mall, even to the next county; to a foreign country but NOT to where the guilt is.
(To me guilt is worthless.  Remind yourself why what you did was wrong, and do your best not to repeat the mistake.  Dwelling on it won’t change it, just vow to be better in the future.)

10. Tell the people you love that you love them, at every opportunity.
(This is one of the most important on the list.  Always tell those you love that you do love them every chance you get because you might not get another chance.  You don’t ever want to lose someone and then later wonder if they knew that they were loved….)

AND ALWAYS REMEMBER :
Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.

Worry about nothing, pray about everything!!!

I hope you all enjoyed this.
Please subscribe in the upper right and then drop me a comment.

What advice do you have to share to have a happier life?
What makes you happy?

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