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Never Be Afraid To Ask for a Discount

Susan Goldberg, Garage Sale Expert

By Chrystie Fiedler

Garage Sale Susan discovered tag sales when she was young and needed to furnish an apartment on the cheap. It turned into a compulsion when she found inexpensive collectible items like Salty and Peppy Chefs—hand-painted souvenir salt and pepper shakers (she now has 200 sets). She’s turned the hobby into a career and is host of The Incurable Collector on A&E Television.

Why shop at a garage sale?
It’s smart and cost-saving. For example, you can find inexpensive baby clothes and large toys, like those big plastic Cozy Cars—kids grow out of both in a minute. Don’t buy used baby furniture or car seats, though, since they may not meet current safety standards. Garage sales can also spark creativity when you buy something old and turn it into something new.

What are the secrets of a good bargain hunter?
You can’t go wrong asking, “What’s your best price on this?” Also, play it cool. The person willing to walk away is usually the winner. Since the seller’s merchandise is out of the house, chances are he doesn’t want it going back in, so remember you’re in the power seat.

On your show you nab lots of great bargains for as little as $20. How can we do that?
First, carry lots of $1 bills. When you arrive at a garage sale, give everything a quick look. When you decide what items you’d like, ask for a volume discount. My favorite question is, “Will you take $10 for this?”

What else should bargain hunters take with them?
Carry moist towelettes, sunscreen, a tape measure and a list of measurements if you’re looking for furniture. If you’re in the market for clothes, wear a tight-fitting workout outfit or a cat suit so you can try on things.

Is it better to shop at the start of the day or the end?
It’s a catch-22. The early bird gets the best selection but pays top dollar. Sellers usually drop their prices after noon or, if it’s a weekend sale, Sunday afternoon.

How do you decide which are the best garage sales to go to? 
Look for words like “designer,” “vintage,” “collectible” and “like new” in ads. To make a route, cut out ads and tape them to a piece of paper. Call ahead and ask sellers if they have what you’re looking for. For newer items, go to a new housing development. To find treasures, head to older neighborhoods and estate sales.

What are the most important things to keep in mind when hosting a garage sale?
First, there’s no sense having it if people don’t know where it is. Splurge and buy a small ad or take advantage of free listings in your local paper. You can also list it on Put neon Day-Glo posters in grocery stores, on telephone poles (check local laws first), etc. Put what’s for sale in a living-room format so it looks more appealing. Set the mood with music. I have a handy toy megaphone I use to shout out tidbits about the items I’m selling. Donate what’s left over to charity.

What’s your favorite find? 
It has to be my cherry-red ’53 Chevy pickup that’s featured in the opening credits of The Incurable Collector. It’s the ultimate tchotchke!

Article provided by Woman’s Day Magazine


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