yard sale signIt's a Saturday and you're up and on the street earlier than those construction guys around the corner. Why the get-up-and-rub-those-sleepies-out-of-your-eyes motivation? Two words: Yard. Sales.

We grew up organizing them with our parents. But back then, we were unloading Beanie Babies and your parent's vintage vinyl collection in the 5-for-$1 bin. Now that we're older and wiser, we're realizing that other people's unwanted clutter can lead to some serious finders-keepers bragging rights!

Here's how to grab the gold and stay off the loser's block. Leave a comment below to tell me about your favorite finds and tips (it might end up in a follow-up post)!

vintage flour jarGold Find Tip #1: Go for Home Décor
Yard sales are like the Ikea of home décor: You're going to find things that have you thinking, Now how did I ever survive without that? But unlike Ikea, shopping at yard sales promises one-of-a-kind kitsch that won't cut into your grocery allowance. Vases for 50 cents? Useful trinkets at 2-for-$1? Practical magazine racks, corner book stands, vintage cookie jars and unique throw rugs for less than an iced coffee? You can't go wrong with finding eye-catching, engaging accessories that travel well from someone else's yard to your newly spruced-up home.

super nintendoGold Find Tip #2: Throwback Video Game Consoles
It didn't matter if you were a tomboy or a Limited Too princess: You owned an Atari, Nintendo or Sega Genesis at one point. And if it weren't for that time your mom made you get rid of all your junk when you graduated college and moved out once and for all, you'd still be giving your thumbs a workout saving the Princess on Super Nintendo. Forget the Wii -- find a vintage video game console, and you've found a new Sunday-night distraction.
cabbage patch dollGold Find Tip #3: Children's Toys (for Use As Future Gifts)
Have some nieces and nephews who will inevitably be in your presence sometime soon? Be the favorite aunt and stock up on toys now so that you have a handy supply ready to give. Kids don't care that their new toy isn't in a plastic package and, how awesome is it to see the next generation playing with a vintage Cabbage Patch doll from your own childhood?
town signGold Find Tip #4: Shop the Wealthiest Neighborhood One Town Over
I admit, it's a bit embarrassing to hit up a local yard sale only to awkwardly discover that you're looking through stuff from your elementary school teacher's attic. The solution? Drive 20 minutes to the nearest town (not to mention school district) over to avoid run-ins with the townies. The even-better solution? Choose a wealthy neighborhood. Yard sales are like trick-or-treating: Go to the big houses, and you'll get the big sweets.
overflowing trashGold Find Tip #5: Be a Post–Yard Sale Freegan
Saturday is yard sale day. And Sunday? That's trash-hunting day. In the twilight of a Sunday night, return to the scene of the sale to see what pieces didn't leave the selling block. Empty your car and bring a friend -- for companionship and a helping hand. The biggest pieces will be most visible, since smaller rejects will just find their way into black shopping bags buried deep in trash cans. My personal finds: an air conditioner (estimated value: $200), a set of drawers (estimated value: $300), a chair for yoga (estimated value: $25) and two canvas posters dug from the trash of an American Eagle store (estimated value: priceless).


WHAT TO RUN FROM

used mattressLoser's Block #1
: Used Sleeping Gear
Regardless of how clean something looks, it's just good sense to altogether avoid anything that's been slept in. Don't buy bedding, mattresses, pillows or sheets. Need further reason? Bedbugs don't discriminate -- and you could be the unhappy owner of bonus exterminator fees if you don't take proper precautions.
trash digging for foodLoser's Block #2: Food Freeganism
Removing food from someone's trash is a definite no-no. I'd rather see you find the nearest Dunkin' Donuts and ask them for a reduced-cost or a free muffin just before store closing. (Confession: I've done this at my local Dunkin' with sweet success.)
bring it on dvdLoser's Block #3: Seriously Discounted DVDs
Ever heard of Netflix? Prevent further clutter and forget about picking up that DVD of "Bring It On" for $1. That's what TNT is for. There is one exception: box sets of your favorite shows (extra points if they were on the WB). "Felicity," "Dawson's Creek," "Gilmore Girls" -- grab 'em up and invite your friends over for a marathon nostalgia session that deserves preservation in a plastic case.

Had a great yard sale find already this season? Tell us about it in the comments!
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sammy davis
Sammy Davis spends her days doing what any thrift-store nut loves most: finding beautiful vintage clothing to bring into the closets of the contemporary NYC girl through her company, Sammy Davis Vintage. When not rummaging through closets or in the racks of thrift stores across the Northeast, Sammy is talking to the camera, happily oversharing on Twitter or logging miles and keeping track of her health in her food and fitness journal. Got a question about fashion, health or just feeling good about life? Drop her a line at sammy@sammydvintage.com, and she'll hit you back ASAP.