As you know, I love junking. Many people have asked me how to do it? Where do you go? How do you know if it’s a good deal? For me, it started as a child going to garage sales with my mom, sisters, aunts, cousins and family friends. This was a common occurrence for us bright and early on Friday mornings. If you already go to garage sales, tag sales, estate sales, thrift stores, and second-hand stores, the theory and tactics for junking are the same.
Before you go any further, you must understand you need patience when junking. If you do not have patience, junking might not be your forte.
- Make of list of what you want for you household. This could range from mason jars or glass vases to headboards and armoires. The options are limitless. If you are unsure what you “want or need” check out Pinterest or DIY magazines to get inspiration.
- Map out your route of attack.
- Garage, tag and estate sales: you can find a list of sales on Craigslist, city calendars and newspapers. Scope out areas that you like to go — they will usually have goods that match your taste.
- Stores: Sometimes stores are harder to find, because they don’t advertise as much. Look in your phonebook under “consignment” or “thrift stores,” or ask people in your area. Once you find one you like, ask the store clerks if they know of more.
- Make a budget. It’s easy to get carried away with junking — even though you find amazing deals, your money will go fast. Create a budget and stick to it.
- Bring cash. Most garage and tag sales require cash, no credit cards. Many stores and estate sales will accept cards, but cash is definitely a better negotiating tool.
- Know what items should cost. Some people and places like to mark items up beyond value to make a larger buck. Make sure you know what items should be worth. Remember, they are used. If you can purchase it cheaper at Wal-Mart or Target, it is not a good buy.
- Work on your negotiating skills. I like to ask right away, no matter where I go, “Are prices negotiable?” The worst they can say is no. If they say no, you can always try bundling, or buying items together and asking for a lower price.
- Wear comfortable clothing. Something you don’t mind getting dirty (and comfy shoes). Sometimes you have to lift, rummage or walk a distance for your treasures.
- Bring your own grocery/canvas bags. Especially for garage, tag and estate sales. Possibly bring a wagon to tote your goods. This is helpful so you don’t have to go back and forth to your car and miss out on a treasure.
- Drive a large vehicle. You never know what large treasures you will find.
- Arrive early. The saying is true with junking, the early bird gets the worm!
- Go with friends or family. It is always fun to go shopping with others, and it could be handy to have some help.
What to look for and stay away from
If you find any of these problems on the items you are seeking, think carefully about the purchase — you’ll have to put more money and effort into restoring your treasures.
- Ask to test electronics, and make sure they work. This a must. Some sellers haven’t turned them on in years.
- If you’re looking at a lamp, ask for a light bulb and plug it in. If it doesn’t work, it’s not worth it.
- Check all cords to make sure nothing is frayed or damaged. This could be a fire hazard in your home.
- For furniture, test everything, and look over it throughly.
- Wood products: pull out drawers to make sure they pull out easily. Check for water damage and warping.
- Couches and chairs: look for stains, water damage, rips and tears, and smoke or pet damage. Smell all items for musty, pet or smoke smells. These scents are hard to get out of items.
- Clothing is absolutely acceptable to purchase. Ask to try it on, and look for stains, rips and tears.
- Toys are great to buy, but personally I stay away from stuffed animals since they are hard to wash and clean.
This is a good starting point for your junking career. I’m sure there are some helpful hints I’m forgetting but for the time being these are the must! Let me know in the comments if you have any questions, and happy junking!