Archive for July, 2010

Update: Estate Sale Negotiations

Friday morning my husband headed over to the sale to pick up the luggage, which was now 50% off, and also found a sold brass doorstopper for a whopping $5. He estimates it is worth $100+

I went back after lunch and while I didn’t get any luggage, I did find a cute wooden toy chest I had eyed the day before for $12.50 and two desktop lamps for $1 each.

The same clerk cashed me out and was a good bit nicer this time. I’m hoping she realized how much money she lost by refusing to negotiate…


Negotiating Tactics that Failed – Estate Sale Version

While I LOVE shopping at thrift stores, I often head to estate or household sales in search of home decor items. I’ve had good luck at them. My husband’s biggest bargain was a Stickley sofa, for which he paid $25. I’ve picked up more mundane items, like glass cookware, art, cookbooks, trays and lawn furniture, generally for a few bucks here and there.

Most sales are two days long, often starting on Thursday or Friday and then ending on Friday or Saturday. Many estate sale managers will negotiate, within reason, especially on the second day when most sales go half-price.

So today, when I approached a worker at an estate sale at 3:37 pm – 23 minutes before they were scheduled to close on the first day – and offered $20 for two small pieces of luggage, each marked $12, I thought she would at least consider it. Um, not so much. She was rude and somewhat indignant that I would even ask for a price break. Here is my attempt at negotiating:

Me: “Is there any chance you would take $20 for these two small pieces of luggage?” (A line I’ve used before – successfully, I might add)

Her: “What are they priced? $12? Oh nooo.”

I was shocked. I mean, it was the end of the first day and tomorrow at 8:30 am, all the items go to half price, meaning that the two pieces of luggage will cost a total of $12. I had other items in my hands but I put everything back because I was so irritated.

What can you learn from this? 1) It can’t hurt to ask for a lower price. 2) Know the pricing policies before you start negotiating so you know what you odds are of paying less.

So tomorrow morning I will head back over and delight in getting both pieces of luggage (which I am sure are still there) PLUS several other items, with my $20. Patience can pay off sometimes.

From Per-Piece to Per-Pound

I got some sad news today at my favorite thrift store. For quite some time I’ve enjoyed paying bottom dollar prices for my thrift finds – and by bottom dollar, I mean clothing at 2/$1. But as of next week, the pricing structure is changing. Apparently there was some discussion about raising the cost per-piece to $.75, but management ultimately opted for charging per pound – more than $1.00 per pound, in fact.

Granted, with such low prices I may not end up paying much more than I do now, but winter coats and wool blankets I donate to the local animal shelter will become disproportionately expensive. On the other hand, the lightweight Abercrombie t-shirts and silk scarves I often pick up will probably cost less than they used to because of their almost non-existent weight.

I recall there being a store in Cambridge, Mass., near where I went to college, that charged by the pound. I think it was called Shirts-by-the-Pound, or something clever like that. My friends always seemed to get a great deal shopping there, so maybe the changes at this store won’t make such a big difference after all.

What do the stores near you charge, on average?

Pay pennies for new-to-you clothing and housewares

Imagine being able to buy pricey, but gently used, name brand outfits for your kids from Abercrombie & Fitch, Hollister or North Face for a small fraction of what they cost new. You'll even spot furniture, silver and glassware for your home for less than a meal out. Or find something for yourself from Chico’s, J. Jill or Lilly Pulitzer and pay for it with the change from the bottom of your purse. Those are the kinds of deals to be had at thrift shops.

If you get a thrill from finding fabulous deals at thrift shops, consignment stores, and resale outlets, I hope you’ll visit this site often. You’ll pick up proven tips for saving even more on your thrift shop purchases, find the latest thrift shop news and information, learn about items you might not have thought to search for in thrift stores and get a look at photos of my best thrifty bargains.