1. Decide on what you REALLY need. Some people love to shop for the fun of it, but make sure to ask yourself, "Do I really need this?" "Where am I going to store this until it fits my child?" "What will I need to get rid of to have room for this?" Getting a bargain on something that clutters your house is just a waste of money and space. Having a list of things you need on hand will help you stay focused.
2. Map out your course. Look on the PSP Blog Friday afternoon for the upcoming Stoop Sales. Also check the PSP Classifieds for sales that didn't post in time for the blog, as well as on Craig's List and perhaps stoopsales.com. Be on the lookout for flyers around the hood and chalk signs.
3. Plan for a day outside. Remember sunscreen, comfy shoes, hats or other sun protection if you and your kids are going to be walking around the ‘hood stoop sailing.
4. Be a prepared shopper. Bring a tape measure, umbrella, screwdriver, cash (small bills typically appreciated) and something to schelp your treasures (stroller, granny cart). If your kids are not with you trace a shoe and bring clothes that currently fit so you can compare and keep from buying something that doesn't fit. Take wipes or hand sanitizer to keep your hands from getting too dusty. Extra credit goes to those who take batteries to check out electronics!
5. Don't assume there aren't great things later in the day. Unlike "garage sales" in other states that start at 8am (with vultures picking things bone-dry by noon), many stoop sales are not planned and start later in the day. AND if it IS later in the day, early starting sales may drop prices so you can get even better deals.
6. When you're walking, take a peek down each street. Some sales are not well marked making the possibility of a great find even better.
7. If shopping for clothing, wear easy access clothes. It's great to wear clothes (e.g., a skirt and tank top) that allow you to try things on easily without having a dressing room (most places don't provide one). Even if something is cheap enough that you don't really want to take the time to try it on, bringing it home to just get rid of it takes extra energy.
8. Pick it up if you think you might want it. If you don't, someone else might pick it up if you don't and then you're outta luck. Kids’ toys are notorious "other grabber" items and you don't want to have to figure out which kid had the item first and deal with tears over disappointment.
9. Creativity is key; don’t limit yourself to using stoop sale items as they’re advertised. Scarves can make great dress-up box items. Old Mardi Gras beads can be used for Christmas tree garlands; attractive square sample tiles can be made into coasters or trivets. Fun spoons, small baking pans and expresso cups can be used as kids' kitchen supplies.
10. Give clothes a good "Twice over". Make sure clothes don't have any stains (check the armpits too) or holes. See if the hems are intact, that they haven't been altered more than the size on the tag, and ask yourself:"When and where will I wear this?" Also give clothes a good sniff as basement mold is almost impossible to wash out.
11. DIG. It may be that the perfect thing is at the bottom of the $1 box and no one else has bothered to look through it.
12. ASK. If there's something you need that you don't see (e.g., a baby sling or video games), ask if they have something you are looking for. You'd be surprised what people forgot they have.
13. HELP if you can. If folks are setting up their stoop sale, offer to help them organize their stuff if there are boxes that look interesting. This way you get first dibs at items and sometimes get a good deal by helping folks.
14. Check DVDs, CDs, games and puzzles. Check to make sure that the DVD and CD match their cases. Make sure games and puzzles if you have all the pieces. Both ask and check the box.
15. Keep kids occupied so you can browse. Keep toys handy so that if you're at a non-kid sale they have something to play with. You might want to give them a budget so they can learn about finance and have THEM ask for prices on toys (kids many times get better prices than adults!)
16. Double check ALL appliances and battery operated devices. Ask for a place to plug in to test electronics and look in battery compartments to check for corrosion (remember that screwdriver we told you about earlier? Exactly!)
17. Feel free to haggle and ask for combo deals. It's better to get the seller to name the price and try to negotiate from there; they may say "oh give me a dollar" on an item you would have paid $5 to have. If it's early and they won't accept your lower price, leave your name and phone number and tell them you'll call them if it doesn't sell. For sales that say "$X per bag," roll them up to get more bang for your buck.
18. Bag it when you pay for it. If you have purchased something make sure that you take it right away or have the seller put a SOLD sign on it. I once pointed to a great set of agate bookends, paid for it, and then in the course of talking to the seller someone else picked it up and paid someone else for it. If you need to return later to pick it up, take some portion of it (a couch cushion or bookshelf) so you don't have to worry about someone else paying more and taking it.
19. Be respectful of the seller and passersbies. Make sure your stroller isn't clogging the works for other sellers or people trying to get through. If your kid breaks it or slobbers green boogies all over it, buy it. If your child is taking out toys and strewing them amok, clean up before you leave.
20. Make a friend. Use stoop sales as an opportunity to get to know your neighbors. You never know, you may end up knowing a friend of a friend and making a friend in the process (without Facebook!)!
Happy Stoop Sailing!
BONUS: Check out this adorable Stoop Sale music video!