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Home > Garage Sales General > Early birds, hagglers and rude people - minding your manners isnt that hard!

Early birds, hagglers and rude people - minding your manners isnt that hard!
By John Romaine
Saturday, 24 May 2008
Viewed : 69097 time(s)
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About the Author

John Romaine

John is the founder and creator of egaragesales. He takes care of everything, right through from developing the site, to writing articles, assisting members and sitting up til 3am sending out garage sale signs and answering emails. His interests include bodybuilding and e-commerce.

John Romaine has written 59 article(s) for egaragesales.

If you've ever held a garage sale, you're very familiar with the common scenario committed by overly anxious buyers. The sign reads 9 a.m, but the early birds show up at 7:30, knocking on your front door as you pull the covers over your head. They park themselves up and down your street haphazardly, preventing your neighbours from pulling up in front of their own homes. Or they unwittingly knock on your neighbour's front door at 7:30 a.m. (now there's a way to win friends in the neighbourhood!). 


Once the garage sale is finally open for business, those seasoned bargain-hunters try to talk you down on your asking prices. Why should they buy that overstuffed chair for $25, after all, when, with a little persuasion, they might be able to talk you into letting it go for a dollar? By the end of the day, your patience has been tested to the nth degree, and although you've managed to part with some of your clutter, you didn't make enough to justify the waves you've just created with your annoyed neighbours.

If you're a prospective garage sale buyer, it might behoove you to keep in mind a few "house rules," so to speak. If the sign says 9 a.m., don't ring the bell a minute before then. Don't bother showing up early and parking your car out front, either, waiting to jump out and assault the seller when the clock strikes 9. Oh -- and don't do a "drive-by" the night before the sale, planning the exact spot where you will park your car the next morning (in a position that will strategically place you closest to the garage, and thus, the good stuff). It goes without saying that you should never, ever, peek into the neighbour's garage before 9 a.m. on Saturday to sneak a look at his "stuff" to determine if it's going to be worth your while to show up the next day. While it's often true that the early bird catches the worm, sometimes the polite bird is the most successful.

When the big day arrives, park your car in front of the seller's home if at all possible. If it isn't possible, and you have to park in front of a neighbour's home, stick to the street. Under no conditions should you park in someone else's driveway (except, perhaps, the seller). And unless you want to start a riot, don't park in front of a neighbour's driveway, either. Nor should you walk across neighbours' yards or step on their landscaping to take a shortcut to the sale and beat that elderly woman who appears to be salivating over the same easy chair that caught your eye. Keep in mind that it's early on a Saturday morning, and many families enjoy sleeping in or relaxing over their newspapers at this hour. So keep conversation quiet, and avoid yelling as you approach the seller's garage. If you can keep your young children home, do it; children are understandably bored under these circumstances, and they might be tempted to create noisy havoc.

Once you arrive in the seller's garage, keep your composure. Don't rummage through his displays haphazardly, scattering his possessions about until you find something you really want. And if someone picks up something you were considering, leave it alone. This isn't the time for World War III; you'll find a lava lamp somewhere else. And while we're on the subject of manners, garage sales have an unspoken code of etiquette when it comes to buyers' claims to items for sale. If you spot something that you're confident you want to purchase, and it's either too big or cumbersome to carry around while you continue to shop, ask the seller to place it behind his table while you keep browsing. If you merely set the object down where you think nobody will see it -- or you leave it where it is and assume nobody else will pick it up -- your so-called "rights" have been forfeited. Don't try to claim the object as "yours" if you don't hand it to the seller.

While it's common practice for buyers to negotiate with sellers over prices -- particularly if it's late in the day, and the seller recognizes that if he wants to unload the item you're interested in that he'd better negotiate at least a little with you -- keep your cool. Know when to stop; don't resort to obnoxious tactics to talk the seller down in price. He has to make a profit, after all, and the vast majority of garage sale items are reasonably priced, anyway. Be polite, and keep that smile on your face as you throw out a lower price as a suggestion. The word "please" never hurt, either. When you've both determined an appropriate price and it comes to pay, it's a little late to wish you'd remembered to change your large bills for smaller ones. This is standard garage sale etiquette. If you're carrying nothing but $50 bills, and you've got $2 worth of merchandise in your hand, you're placing the seller in a difficult position. Make sure you bring lots of $1 and $5 bills and lots of change to your next garage sale.

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