Yard sales are an Abilene weekend staple pretty much any time of the year, but April through September is clearly the busy season. So here are some tips and inside pointers to making your yard sale experience work for you.

My wife and I are “Yardies” (this is what I call those who have ever planned an entire day around yard sales). We have been known to go out in search of just about anything, from baby clothes to televisions, home decor to power tools. If there’s a chance we can find what we want at a great price at a yard sale, it’s money saved. We have certainly learned that it pays to be prepared.

Not only do we seek sales, we have held several yard sales of our own. When we plan a sale, we call family to see if they have anything to add to our sale, so our spread looks more impressive. We also encourage neighbors to have sales, because multiple sales in walking distance generates more stops from “Crawlers” (I’ve given this name to the people who slow down to look at a yard sale, but will only stop if they can see an item that they want to look at closer). Crawlers, I can only guess, are looking for large items that they can see from the street, yet most of them are driving small or mid-size cars. Go figure.

Product placement is important. We are always careful to put the items we want to get rid of more in plain view from the street. And we park our vehicles down the street to allow for more parking and better visibility.

If you’re thinking of having a yard sale of your own, it’s good to see how it works from the customer’s standpoint. Go to other sales and see if you notice some of the things that work for others that you can apply to your yard sale. Are items easy to get to, inspect, and consider for purchase? Can you find the price of an item easily, or do you need to find the owner and ask? I prefer to price smaller bulk items, like baby clothes, with a large sign rather than individually. And I leave the price tag off more expensive items (over $20). This makes customers ask questions and allows for interaction that could earn you a sale.

Pricing is important, too. I’ve learned that you rarely get what you’re originally asking for an item, but if something is ridiculously overpriced, the customer won’t even engage in an offer. I also have learned to have a “bottom line” price in mind before the sale even begins. You don’t want to be caught off guard in this game!

I’ve found going to yard sales is also a good way to brush up on negotiating skills. Looking at an item, placing my own mental “highest price tag” on it, and sticking to it makes me feel good. If I get it for lower than that price, it makes me feel great! As a man, I feel negotiating skills are important for life outside yard sales, too. I’ve seen the movies “Die Hard”, “Speed”, and “The Taking Of Pelham 123″. One never knows when sharp negotiating skills will be required to save a building, bus, or train full of innocent civilians.

The obsessive yard salers (I won’t call them “early birds”. That sounds too nice, and these people are just plain obsessive) are out at least an hour before a sale is scheduled to begin, often rifling through sale items that aren’t even pulled out of the garage for viewing yet. If you are considering becoming one of these people, please stop yourself. I haven’t met a yard sale organizer who likes that type of behavior.

Are you a Yardie? Would you offer any suggestions to someone who is new to the game?