I have participated in neighborhood garage sales and worked at church rummage sales. Both were enjoyable experiences and I learned things from them. One of the things I learned was how to spot an experienced shopper. You can tell these people the minute they walk in the door. Entertainers would say these shoppers “worked the room. " You can work the room by following these shopping tips.
ARRIVE EARLY. Years ago my husband and I participated in an eight-family garage sale. Though the sale started at 8 a. m. people started lining up at 6:30 a. m. By starting time the crowd was huge. The first people in line got all the good stuff.
BRING A LIST. Your list should include the things you are looking for and the sizes people wear. Note other sizes as well if you are shopping for a group. Put a star by your top items. Stick to your list and resist impulse buying unless you find a bargain too good to pass up.
SCAN THE STOCK. Experienced shoppers circle the room quickly to see what is there. Signs may help you do this. Items should be displayed in categories if there are no signs. Make a bee-line for the top items on your list.
LOOK FOR BRAND NAMES. I was working at one rummage sale when a determined woman came in the door. She went through the clothing like a lawn mower through grass. In less than 15 minutes she had filled a huge box with designer clothes. After she left we tallied her purchases and found she had purchased $300+ worth of clothing for $50.
BUY IN BULK. Another church rummage sale shopper said he was buying clothes for an orphanage. We did not know if this was true, but sold him dozens of children's shirts, slacks, and socks at below bargain basement prices.
CHECK WORKABILITY AND PARTS. A lamp with a broken socket will not do much for you unless you are an electrician. Test electrics to ensure they are in working order. Also check games and puzzles for missing pieces.
LOOK FOR BOOK/VIDEO BARGAINS. Garage and rummage sales often have cheap books and videos. These items may be sale priced, such as five paperbacks for a buck. Cook book collectors may find vintage books at sales. Avid readers may find classics and best-sellers.
INQUIRE ABOUT SPECIALS. Many church rummage sales have specials just before closing. My church has a $1 all-you-can-fit in a bag special one hour before closing. Many shoppers come early, check the stock, do not buy anything, and return for bag special.
GET THE DATE. Churches have regular garage sales. Ask the cashier when the next sale will be and note it on your calendar. The family across the street from me has a garage sale every July. Experienced shoppers know this and watch for their ad. Garage and rummage sales are lots of fun when you use your shopping smarts.
Copyright 2007 by Harriet Hodgson
Harriet Hodgson has been a freelance nonfiction writer for 28 years. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists and the Association for Death Education and Counseling. Her 24th book, “Smiling Through Your Tears: Anticipating Grief, " written with Lois Krahn, MD, is available from http://www.amazon.com A five-star review of the book is posted on Amazon. You will find other reviews on the American Hospice Foundation Web site ("School Corner" heading) and the Health Ministries Association Web site.