#1: It is perfectly exceptable garage sale etiquette to negotiate pricing!
Now, some of you might be thinking, "DUH!" But let me tell you. I am still in the process of learning how to do this. For some reason, I think that the price on the item is already reduced so it would be somewhat rude to ask the seller to go any lower. Not so! I have learned this valuable lesson from my friend Kayla. No price is set in stone unless there is a barcode on it....and even then, there may be some way to compromise. If I remember correctly, this girl haggled a street salesman in Denver over a period of three days to get a Coach purse down to an acceptable price for her. When going to garage sales, she'll find what she wants and name her price. If her price is the same as the sticker, then great, but usually it's not and she'll say, "Can you take this for 75 cents instead of $3?" Now here's the kicker. The seller can either counter offer, say yes, or say no. If they counter offer, the ball is back in your court. If they say yes, you pay your astoundingly reduced price and walk away with a smile on your face. But if they say no....you do NOT just pay the previously requested price anyway! Instead, you take a last courtesy glance around say, "Thanks anyway!" and leave. Believe me, you'll be glad you did.
#2: While quite comical, the Amish have it down! - Go forth in numbers and make sure you have extra storage space!
I just learned this lesson last weekend. Heather and I were going out to a really nice housing association's garage sales in torrential winds for her birthday. There were three 15 passenger vans full of Amish individuals pulling large white trailers. The van would pull up to a corner, let ALL the people out. The 14 people would go out with military-like preparedness and determination and disperse down the street a few to each home with a garage sale. Now, I know you're wondering what that 15th person was doing. Well, he was driving the trailer-pulling-van slowly down the street to the other end so the troops could come and drop off any finds before they moved on to the next treasure trove. They were there scoping out the streets before several of the garage sales even opened up. I seriously had to stop the car and just laugh. Then I realized something, I was laughing while they were strategically taking all the cool stuff!
I rushed to get Heather and we came back to take them on. Unfortunately, they had hit up almost everything by the time we got back and we dwarfed in comparison to their numbers. So this weekend, I'm heading out early with a cleaned out SUV with plenty of storage space. I'm not sure I'll have the numbers needed to be a threatening force, but at least I'll have Elliot....he's a great decoy and distraction!
These are my top two. I am still quite the novice, so I'm sure I will have more after this weekend's adventure, and I would love to learn vicariously through your experience, so feel free to comment and leave any strategic tips you think could help.