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10 Tips for Smart Shopping at Yard Sales and Thrift Stores

Timing can be key for deals

  • Leave your number. If you see an item at a yard sale and the owner says he or she isn't willing to meet your price, leave your name and phone number. This way, the owner can contact you when the sale is over. Often times, if items haven't sold, the owner may reconsider your offer.
  • Try before you buy. Yard sales and thrift stores rarely allow you to return merchandise after you've purchased it, so try on the clothing, test the appliances, measure the furniture, and inspect all merchandise carefully before you buy.
  • Deals on office supplies. Thrift stores are often a great place to find quality, used office equipment and computers, since many businesses are image conscious and donate equipment as soon as it becomes the least bit dated.
  • Try consignment as an option. Consignment or resale shops are stores where individuals sell their used items and split the proceeds with the shop owners. The quality and condition of merchandise at consignment shops is usually superior to that at thrift stores, since consignment shops tend to be selective in what they accept for resale.
  • Big bargains at church and charity sales. Yard sales sponsored by churches and other charities often have better prices than privately operated yard sales, since these are intended to be fundraisers, and the goal is to sell everything.
  • Look out for sales and promotions. Many thrift stores have a sale day every week, so be sure to ask. For example, at a local thrift store that I patronize, every Wednesday all clothing is half price. What a deal!

Jeff Yeager is the author of The Ultimate Cheapskate's Road Map to True Riches and The Cheapskate Next Door. His website is and you can friend him on Facebook at JeffYeagerUltimateCheapskate or follow him on Twitter.

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