by Margot Gilman

Yard Sale Know-How

April 22, 2010 at 4:08 pm , by

Why do I love spring? For all the usual reasons having to do with better weather, lighter clothes, longer days, brighter moods. But there’s one thing that really makes the season stand out in my book: It’s time for yard sales again!

I am crazy about yard sales. I love the serendipity of them, the crazy karmic luck that sometimes leads you to just the thing you’ve been dying to own (even if you didn’t know it). I’ve found many of my best-loved, and even some of my most valuable, possessions at yard sales. My favorite example: a small, stunning oil painting by a semi-famous artist who has pieces in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art. I picked this little gem up at moving sale for 25 bucks. And I still delight in a $195 Williams-Sonoma chrome citrus press that was new in the box. Cost to me: $5. It would never have occurred to me to go out and buy such a thing. Now every summer I make gallons of fresh lemonade with it.

Of course, to do yard sales well you have to have a strategy. Here are the five most important things I’ve learned from my years of experience:

  • Plan your route. Most yard sales are held on Saturdays, so by Friday get a copy of your local newspaper classifieds or Pennysaver, and choose the four or five most promising sales to visit, from closest to home to farthest. Choose the sales based on the merchandise available as described in the ad, but also make judgments based on address. Yard sales on nicer streets in fancier zip codes are usually better—it’s just a fact. Read more