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The ABC's of Yard Sales

Stored under In the News on July 12, 2007 at 7:08 AM

A -- Arrive Early. If the sale is advertised to begin at 9 a.m., you need to be sitting in your car in front of it and ready to leap out by 8:45. As yard-sale holders will report, diehard shoppers are often at their doorstep two hours early. This is just plain rude. Let the sellers at least have their first cup of coffee.

B -- Bring a Friend. It's nice to have someone to give you an honest opinion. My good friend Vicki is my best yard-sale companion. She talks me into buying things and I talk her out of buying things.

C -- Carry Cash. Unless you personally know the sellers, they most likely will not take a check, and you can forget about plastic.

D -- Don't Dilly-Dally. This isn't the mall. Take in the full picture on arrival and head toward the items that interest you most.

E -- Estate Sales are upscale yard sales. Often the sellers will enlist a private group to help conduct the sale. Things are pricier, and you will find people following you around as if you were just released from jail on a shoplifting charge.

F -- Forget the Fixer-Uppers. You may have good intentions when buying a chair with a broken leg, but truth be told, it most likely will remain in that condition until you pitch it.

G -- Go for it! If you are a female, rationalize your purchase with the sociological principle that men are the hunters and women are the gatherers. If you are a male, just stash your purchase with all of the other so-called tools in the shed and no one will ever notice it.

H -- Hang on to it! If you spot something you may want to buy, use the "hands-on" approach. Otherwise, before you can say "I've hit the mother lode," it will disappear before your eyes into someone else's hands.

I -- Inquire if needed. The sellers usually are very willing to answer questions, the most common being, "Does it work?"

J -- Jewelry. Check for missing stones, broken clasps, etc. Ask the seller if you want to try it on.

K -- Know your stuff. If you know there will be collectible items, do your homework and research the going rate.

L -- Leave kids, especially young ones, at home. There are many fragile items usually displayed within a child's reach. While you're at it, leave your non-yard-sale aficionado spouse home, too. You'll have more fun, and he/she will thank you for it.

M -- Mirrors. Mirrors, especially older ones, require inspection. Take a close look to ensure they would not be better suited for a fun house.

N -- Never leave your purchases unattended. If you can't carry them, lock them in your vehicle. The chaotic atmosphere of a busy yard sale can lead to sticky fingers.

O -- Open it. Don't hesitate to open drawers, jewelry boxes, luggage, etc. to make sure everything is functioning properly.

P -- Plug it in. When purchasing an electrical appliance, it's a good idea to ask if there is an available outlet to check it out.

Q -- Quick decisions are a must. The old adage, "you snooze, you lose" applies here. And if you're really not sure about buying, it's not fair to ask the seller to hold it for you.

R -- Returns are a no-no. If something is defective when you get it home, you could try to return it. Good luck.

S -- Sniff test. It's a good idea to check for mustiness, especially when buying old books or furniture.

T -- Tuck an extra $20 in your wallet. You'll be heartsick if you run out of cash and see someone carrying away a great find that in a perfect yard-sale world should have been yours.

U -- Use your imagination. If a piece of furniture is structurally sound, a coat of paint and some inexpensive hardware can do wonders.

V -- Vans, trucks or SUVs make it a lot easier to get large and bulky items home to where your spouse is not so eagerly waiting.

W -- Wear comfortable shoes.

X -- Xylophone. You just might find one. That's part of the fun of a yard sale; you never know what's going to be there.

Y -- Yard-sale listings. Start checking the classified section of your newspaper on Thursdays for dates, times, and places.

Z -- Zip up your purse or close your wallet before you overdo it. yard-sale shopping is a great hobby but you could end up with a bunch of stuff that you have no use for. Just in case, you can always have one of your own!

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