8 Tips for Negotiating at a Garage Sale

We all love garage sales because it gives us the chance to find great items at hugely discounted prices. You should walk into a garage sale with the mindset that every price is negotiable.

When you deal with retail associates at stores, they always point to the sticker price and do not have the ability to adjust prices set by corporate systems and people who they’ve never met. But in the wonderful world of garage sales, you are dealing with the person who has the ability to adjust the price of all the items they’re selling.

Not everybody is a pro at garage sale pricing, and most of the time people running garage sales are guessing when it comes to setting prices- which gives you a bit of wiggle room when it comes to negotiations.

We’ve compiled our garage sale experience over the years to bring you our guide for how to negotiate

Negotiating at a Garage Sale

How to Negotiate Prices at a Garage Sale

1. Be polite and friendly

Personally, I’m way more willing to deal with someone haggling if they’re nice. You can catch more flies with honey, as they say, because nobody likes to work with rude people.

Be friendly! Smile! Just by simply being a friendly person, you’d be amazed at how much further your negotiating can go. Some people might think that you can have the upper hand by being a bit cold and un-friendly, while that might be good advice for some, in a general sense- ALWAYS be friendly and easy to work with when negotiating.

2. Start low

This is critical, because whatever price point you begin with, you will not be able to go lower than. You don’t want to offer an insulting price, but take a look at the sticker price and make a reasonable offer that’s lower than that price.

From that low price that you offer, the seller can either accept it right away, or counter-offer with a higher price. Odds are that the price they counter with will be lower than the sticker price, so this is a great way to get a discount.

If you’re looking for a better way to open negotiations, look no further than our favorite tip:

3. Ask for their lowest price

Begin your negotiations by saying “what’s the lowest you’ll go on this __________”. This one is super easy, and a classic negotiating tactic. Make them start first and negotiate against themselves. They already priced the item with a sticker price, and now you are asking if they can go lower.

The seller can either stand firm with that sticker price, OR they could offer you a lower price. This is a great way to get a seller to drop a price, without you even saying a number.

You can either accept that new number, or you can try to go even lower, this part is up to you and how confident you are in getting an even lower price.

4. Bundle items

People have garage sales to get rid of stuff, plain and simple. If you can bundle some items together and ask for one combined low price, they may be willing to listen. The seller would love for everything to sell, so they have less items to throw away or donate.

Bundling items is a very underrated tip because it appeals to the sellers ability to end the day with less stuff. This is a perfect tip if you identify a handful of items that you wanted to buy. Bundling is a perfect way to get an overall discount, that many people don’t even consider.

5. Point out flaws

I kind of hate this one, but it’s a necessary evil. Garage sales offer used items, some very, very used. Chances are that the item you are buying will have defects like scratches, dents, missing parts, etc. Even though everyone on the planet knows that items aren’t perfect at garage sales, you can use this to your advantage.

Pointing out a flaw in a garage sale item is an easy way to get a discount, so give it a shot, but be warned it could trigger a debate.

6. Do your research

You should have an idea what the item you are interested should cost. This got a lot easier with the invention of the smartphone. Now everyone has the ability to take their phone out and do a quick search on what items cost new.

You can use sites like eBay to see what similar used items sell for (but be sure to check items that actually sold, not just what people are asking for unsold items).

7. Be flexible

Garage sales aren’t an exact science, so you also should be willing to adjust the prices in your own head. Don’t be unreasonable. If it’s an item that you really are interested in, you should be willing to pay the sticker price or whatever is the absolute lowest price that a seller will offer.

8. End of day discounts

All garage sales come to an end, and this can be the best time to get the lowest price. A seller knows that you may be the last person interested in a particular item, and selling to you at a discount is a better outcome for them than not selling it and having to store it somewhere and make nothing.

Pay attention to the dates and times of garage sales

Obviously if you really want an item, showing up at the end of the day could potentially mean that item already sold, then you’re out of luck! But going in blind to the last hour of a garage sale could open up a world of discounts.

9. Be willing to walk away

This is another classic negotiating tip in general. You have to be willing to walk away. Once a seller knows you are willing to walk away, they may throw out one last price to get you to buy their item.

Walking away tells the seller that you are not desperate, and for all they know, you may be the only person interested in that item all day. Never appear desperate- it kills your negotiating power.

Bonus Personal Tip

Never go right for the item you want.

One day I was in desperate need for a split queen-sized box spring set. I had just moved to an apartment with a very narrow stairwell and could not get a standard queen-sized box spring up the stairs. My only option was to buy a split box spring which is very expensive to buy new.

I did my research and checked Craigslist for local garage sales near me and searched the term “box spring.”

I did end up finding a garage sale near me that had exactly what I needed. I grabbed a friend who had a truck, parked down the block, and walked up to the garage sale.

Here’s the tip: Of course I was only there for the split queen box spring, but my friend and I walked around the garage sale for a bit, browsing at all the items before finally checking out the box springs. The price was $50 for both of them.

I’ll never forget offering them $10 for both, and hearing them say “OK”. I had to really hold it together, because deep down I knew that I had the best garage sale deal I’d ever gotten. We carried them each down the block to our truck and still talk about it to this day.

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