Style & Shopping

on the hunt: tips for yard sales and antique shows

How to score the best deals and finds.

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My mom started me young on the yard sale-ing and antique circuit.  As a toddler, I remember climbing into the back of her little red Toyota and we’d drive miles (and get lost on the way) in search of treasure.  On the weekends, I enjoy going yard sale-ing and antiquing with my own kids and husband. We also love the Brimfield Antique Show which occurs three times a year.  Last year, I took part in the World’s Longest Yard Sale, working with GMC and Habitat for a Humanity, to decorate a home for a Habitat family, using our yard sale finds!  I know some people have never been to a yard sale before and may be overwhelmed at the thought of trudging through muddy fields scouring for treasure, but I love it.  I thought I’d put together some tips for a successful treasure hunting adventure.  Be careful, though, this can become addictive.  Even just going “Out on the Hunt”.

It isn’t a Fashion Show

I can’t emphasise this enough.  Your heels can stay home.  It is best to trade in your stilettos for comfy sneakers or flip flops.  Dress in layers.  Some of these shows can start early.  I got to Brimfield one year at 6:30 am and the Ralph Lauren crew had already loaded their truck with great finds.  So, have your sweatshirts and jackets, wear them layered over a long sleeve top and tank.  It can get hot on open fields in the sun.  Last time we went to Brimfield it was 96 degrees in September (quite warm for Massachusetts).

Cash is King

Many people take card now, but if you want to get a deal, or plan on negotiating, then you need to have cash in your wallet.  You can often get a better price with cash.

Let’s Make a Deal

If I think a price is already fair then I don’t try to negotiate down. I know people do but if I already feel like I’m getting a great deal then I don’t nickle and dime. However, if I’m buying many items from one booth I might say, “If I get this, this and this could you do me a better deal?”  Other ways of phrasing a negotiation which aren’t offensive to the dealer or you are:

“What’s the best you could do?”

“Is this price firm?”

“Could you take $10 off?” (provided the item isn’t only $10)

“I’m interested in this piece, but the price is a little higher than I wanted to spend.  Is there any wiggle room?”

Do NOT say:

“Wow!  Your booth is so expensive.”

“Why, would I pay $200 for THAT.”

Don’t gush over something that you’re trying to get a deal on.

Most dealers want to sell their wares and will make a deal with you, they usually will give 10 percent off but might give you more off if they don’t want to bring their items back home with them.  Also, don’t give away the fact that you love everything, and that the prices seem fair, there is almost always some wiggle room. Great deals can happen at the end of the day or end of shows for that reason.

A Friend with a Truck

If you think you might find a piece of furniture, or even if you’re not looking for one you might find one.  That is what happens to me.  My first Brimfield I had our small SUV and found an awesome cupboard but it wouldn’t fit in the car.  Now, I always bring the truck! Just in case.