Create a Shopping List: As with an shopping trip, jot down all the items to plan to bargain shop for. Organzine the list by “needs” and “wants”. Items listed as “needs” would be the things you absolutely have to get and all the “wants” are optional.
Research Items to Purchase: Take some time to get to know what you’re shopping for. Find out the range of value of the different items on your list. What are some of the factors that go into making an item more valuable, i.e. where and when an item was made, style of an item, availability or rarity of an item. What is the current retail value of an item? What is it’s depreciation value? The more you know about the items you plan to bargain for, the more equipped you will be when making a deal.
Establish a Budget & a “High Price”: After researching the items on your list, create a budget for your shopping trips. Let’s face it, bargain shopping is always hit or miss, you’ll often find yourself making more than one trip. For each item, establish a “high price”, the highest amount you are willing to fork up. The lowest price, of course, would be free. Once you’ve established a budget and a high price, stick to it!
Layout your Plan of Attack: Look up advertised garage sales, posted on the internet, listed in the local newspapers, or the old-fashion way, signs taped to street posts. Plan a general route through the various garage sales in your neighborhood, making note of any additional garage sales not advertised online. Take a trip to your local open market or swap meet. Most swap meets open early, even as early as 5am. Perhaps plan to check out the swap meet at 7am, spend an hour or so, then drive around to check out the garage sales. One thing to remember about the open markets and swap meets is that they may open as early as 5am but not all the vendors are there. I’ve checked out a couple of these markets at 7am and most vendors are just starting to set up their booths. Usually by 8 to 9am booths are in full swing, but so are the crowds and the hot sun.
Be Ready to Bargain and Be Persistent: When bargain shopping, it’s not always the case that you will find everything in one shopping trip. Be prepared to shop around for the better deals. More often than not, sellers will put a higher value on their items for sale, but stick to your high price to stay on budget. Make deals whenever you can, shooting for a price that’s below your “high price”. You’ll always come across a few sellers that won’t budge. Be persistent, but know when to walk away. There’s always a good deal around the corner. You can always come back to that item later, and if you’ve had a few great deals on some things, you may be able to splurge a little on an item or two.
And remember, amidst all the junk are some real treasures. Happy shopping!