Highland Eco: Yard-Saling Tips

“How much are you asking for this?” I say, motioning to whatever treasure I’d spotted.

“How ‘bout two bucks?” they say. 

“Will you take one?” I crane my neck to look them in the eyes.

“I can do that.”

As a kid, that’s what a typical Saturday morning interaction looked like. My family would hit all the yard sales in town, and if I wanted my parents to fund my finds, I had to haggle for the best deals possible.

It usually worked in my favor. I mean, who’s cruel enough to shut down the dreams of a beady-eyed child on a budget? 

Now, with over a decade of experience under my belt, you can call me a “yard-saling” pro. I know how to find what I want and pay what I want to pay for it. 

Although I’ve been hesitant to reveal my secrets, I figured I could spare a few for this column because shopping second-hand is great for the environment. 

Here are a few of my summer yard sale finds, along with tips I’ve learned along the way. Read closely, but steer clear of my treasure!

  1. Know what you’re looking for.

I don’t know how I feel about the whole manifestation thing, but it’s true that you’re more likely to find something when you’re looking for it. Make a list of what you hope to find, and check it twice. Share it with a friend so they can be on the lookout too.

Here are two things I found on my wishlist this summer. The first is a snake plant, and the second is a new drying rack for my clothes, which my mom spotted. I paid four dollars for the snake plant and two for the drying rack.

  1. Consider not how valuable something is, but how valuable it will be to you.

Unless you’re out to resell things, resale value doesn’t really matter. When making a purchase, consider instead how much value you’ll put into the item. Will you use it often? Is it durable? And if it isn’t, do you know how to fix it when it breaks? 

Let’s take this floral dress as an example. The seller was looking to sell it for 20 dollars, which is well under what I imagine they paid for it, but it was more than what I wanted to pay because I could only see myself wearing it on special occasions.

Since it was the end of the day and the seller was about to haul everything to a thrift store, I decided to make an offer. I ended up getting the dress for eight dollars. Score!

A floral dress purchased at a yard sale.
Photo courtesy of Emily Huffstetler.
  1. Be observant. 

Two seconds of extra inspection can spare you disappointment later. Check shirts for sweat stains. Confirm that games have all of their pieces, and if you can, plug in appliances.

I learned this lesson the hard way. I got so excited about these vintage Doc Martens when I found them, I misread the size. After I bought them, I discovered that they were too small. They only cost four bucks, but I was still bummed.

A pair of vintage pink Doc Martens purchased at a yard sale.
Photo courtesy of Emily Huffstetler.
  1. Dig.

If a huge pile or box looks overwhelming, chances are it’s equally unappealing to everyone else. To gain a competitive edge, be the one who’s willing to dig through it.

I found this 14k gold ring in a bin of costume jewelry. I wear it almost every day, and I only paid two dollars for it.

A 14 karat monogrammed gold ring purchased at a yard sale.
Photo courtesy of Emily Huffstetler.
  1. Stay vigilant.

Yard sales are sporadic. To hunt the best ones down, keep your eyes peeled for signs alongside the road. Check the newspaper, Facebook Marketplace and other social media platforms often for advertisements.

I found these American Eagle jeans and this Pacsun skirt at a sale advertised on Instagram. I paid a dollar or two for each.

A few pairs of American Eagle jeans and a Pacsun skirt purchased at a yard sale.
Photo courtesy of Emily Huffstetler.

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With these tips, you’re well on your way to finding the best deals in town. If you have other eco-friendly hobbies, I’d love to hear about them! Please, send me an email:

emily.huffstetler at my.maryvillecollege.edu

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