Today’s post is one that I feel confident in writing because I have “saled” on Saturday’s since my teenage years...yes, a very long time. I hope you don’t mind my do’s and don’ts for yard sale shoppers. I’ve discovered a lot is written out there in blog land and in magazines about how to have a successful sale and how you should conduct yourself as a seller, but not quite so much is written about the other side, the buyer, or as I refer to us, the “saler”. Nothing irks me more than a totally rude and obnoxious person plowing through a yard or estate sale. Most of the time everyone is having a good time and people are really nice, but there is the occasional jacka** that really puts a damper on the fun!
Luckily for PBC, St. Mary’s County, Maryland is home to the Patuxent River Naval Air Station as well as local countians whose family roots go back several hundred years to Maryland’s founding. Yard Sales abound every weekend from April through September.
Oftentimes military families have to “pick up and go” and they just can’t/or don’t want to take all their “stuff” with them. I can understand how they may not want to haul the teak garden bench from the Phillipines to their new post in Newfoundland, or their snowboarding gear to their new station in the Florida Keys. We, the loyal and faithful yardsalers benefit greatly from these brave, courageous, friendly, and TRANSIENT military members of our community and are ready to relieve them of these items for a fair price!
The locals like to have yard sales too, and occasionally a fantastic estate sale comes along. When the estate is that of a St. Mary’s County family who had been living in the same home for 50+ years, you are likely to find treasures galore! Estate sales are emotional for many people, as the sale is often a result of the loss of a loved one. We always try to keep that in mind and show respect for the property and kindness toward those having the sale. This is difficult enough for them as it is, making snide remarks about their loved ones taste in home décor (i.e. velvet paintings of card playing dogs, green shag carpet) will not win you any points when you find that rare Spode gravy boat that the family never used, collecting dust on the “knick-knack shelf”!
Some things to remember when yard saling:
· The early bird gets the worm. So true! You cannot sleep in on Saturday’s and expect to get the good stuff!
· Dress for the task at hand:
o Sturdy shoes, not every yard sale is on a nicely paved cul-de-sac.Who knows what terrain you will be walking on? Flip flops on wet grass? Ugh, no thanks!
o Pants with pockets to store your money and your car keys (NO PURSES! This is hands free shopping!!!
o Reading glasses (for the over 40 group), very important to see the details of what you are buying!
o Dress in layers. It may be chilly at 6 a.m. but by 10 o’clock it is warming up quickly and you may getting’ sweaty from lifting all your loot!
· Bargaining is expected most of the time, and most people price accordingly. HOWEVER, be reasonable and fair in your offers and most of the time the seller will do the same.
· If you do not own a truck or large vehicle and have to call someone to come and pick up a large purchase, make sure it happens fairly quickly. Most people do not want to have to wait around all day to move a buffet out of their driveway. I bought a rocking chair once and couldn’t get my husband’s truck for a couple of hours. When I went back to get it, the seller had forgotten I had bought and paid for it earlier that morning and was getting ready to sell it to someone else!
· Stock your vehicle with hand sanitizer, bottled water, some snacks, some boxes, bags, and an old towel or blanket to protect purchases, a good map or GPS to find those out of the way addresses, and last but not least plenty of One’s and Five’s. It works out great when they see you have a 5 dollar bill in your hand and you want a 7 dollar item and you can say “will you take 5?” 9 out of 10 times they do!
· I am not trying to sound anti-social, but keep you yard-saling companions to like minded friends and family members. There are two types of “salers” the ones with no particular agenda, who like to browse, chat, and hang out at sales for a VERY long time. And there are those who are on a mission, as we usually are, scanning for particular items of interest. So if you are on a serious hunt for furniture and furniture only, I would NOT recommend you travel with the folks who like to look at every knick knack and every piece of clothing at sales. One Saturday I went “saling” alone, and was back home in 1 hour with a 1940’s Hard Rock Maple chest of drawers with mirror, a sofa table, and a very unique plant stand!