I was just over at Thriftcraft and I posted a comment there about going to yard sales. The ones I attend better welcome kids because half the stuff I buy is for/about my kids. Some or all of them come with me to the sales. I'm teaching them retail sticker shock. Not that I'm above a nice trip to Target or even the mall or downtown, but everything in its own place. I used to be quite the tightwad; now I just love a bargain. I try to be fair about things. For example, I found this vintage Fisher-Price barn covered in green and red crayon and the lady was going to give it to me for 10 cents! I made her take a dollar, because I knew it was worth it but I wasn't after it to resell it on ebay or anything. My kids play with it! And the crayon came off easily with one of those Mr. Clean magic sponge things. On the other hand, when you ask for a deal or they give you a good deal even without asking, sometimes it is just fine to make the bargain and simply say Thank You. My kids got a LeapPad and 5 books and cartridges for $5 last week. It was a fundraiser and they were being nice to us and no one else was going to buy it anyway - things were winding down. It helps to have polite, well-behaved kids. They even took my phone number and called me back later when a missing cartridge was found. Wow.
I have had GREAT luck this year at yard sales. DH has been saving his change in a jar and that is my yard sale fund. I'm sure you seasoned thrifters know this stuff, but I thought I'd share some of what I've learned. Here's my best tip, at least around these parts: The best sales are the fundraisers. The stuff is all donated, so most of the sellers have no vested interest in getting top dollar - they just want ANY dollar because if it doesn't sell they get NO money and the goods just go to the local St. Vincent's. They aren't emotionally attached to the items. The fundraisers aren't going to save it for another sale later, they have to sell it or lose the opportunity. Another tip: Profile the neighborhoods. In my town it isn't cut and dried, but you generally know where the rich people live, the people with young kids, the older people trying to downsize, etc. Who they are reflects what kind of stuff they sell (mostly). And often what kind of prices they're asking. Middle and upper middle have the best prices, but not many vintage items. Another thing: Yard sale out of town if you live in a metro area. The small towns almost always have better sales. I don't know why that is, but it is. Not as many sales, but better deals. My last tip: Go early and go home early. All the good stuff is usually gone by 10AM, although you can get really good deals if you go near the end of the sale. But don't do like I did today and get there too late! Boo hoo. I was going back to a sale where I'd already been for some things I changed my mind about and the truck was already loaded to haul it all away to St. V's where I will have to pay 5x as much at least. Not that St. Vincent de Paul stores aren't a worthy cause. They are and I shop there all the time, but they do cost more than a yard sale.
Today I spent about $6 plus the cost of gas and got for my trouble a puzzle, two vintage tablecloths, a small enamel pot with a lid, two Martha Stewart books, two small handbags, two Bob the Builder board books, some pillowcases, a small wire basket, and a cosmetics suitcase. Oh, and entertainment for two hours. Not bad. Now I have to find things to give away so that I have room for the new stuff.