While two sales next to one another can be the epitome of different, it's true that oftentimes, a neighborhood will have a general theme when it comes to the kinds of stuff it gives away. No matter where you live, it may be beneficial to you to create a garage sale master map, something that will prove an invaluable resource when it comes time to go hunt down a specific item.
Confused as to what a neighborhood sale theme might look like? A rich neighborhood, for example, may offer a lot of furniture at reasonable prices, because the residents are always switching out for what's new and trendy. Sales near a school may have a lot of curriculum items and books because teachers live nearby for convenience. In urban areas where fashion is key, sales could be full of last year's clothing trends that are still perfectly wearable. As mentioned above, all yard and garage sales are different, but there are definitely places where you will have better luck if you're just going out on a blind search for something specific.
So, how do you create a master map? Buy a detailed map of the area and flatten it with heavy books, then get it laminated. Find a good wall or spot to hang it on. The garage is a good spot, especially if you park your car inside, because then you pass it on the way back from yard saling. Another good place is your home office or near the home computer, where you will be doing much of your yard sale mapping for a specific weekend (and can then hunt down sales in certain neighborhoods you've marked).
The lamination will allow you to mark up the map with dry erase markers, which you can use to pen in details about sales trends if you desire. You can also use pushpins with information tied to them, sticky notes, or colored dots, all of which cater to a different style of system. Find something that suits your taste and that you will be able to read quickly and easily next time you take a look. If you decide to write shorthand to save space, be sure you know what each of your notations means, because the point of making a master map is to save you time, not cause you drama as you try to hunt down that scrap of paper that had the expanded information on it.
When you're out and about on your yard saling trips, keep a running list of addresses you visited (or at least rough areas, if you don't know the exact address) and what you found there that was useful or would be useful in the future. You can write "123 Main Street House 4 -- Dog Supplies," for example. You'll want to get some sort of permanent note-keeping object, like a journal or a magnetic list pad, so that you aren't wading through piles of scrap paper when it's time to record everything.
As soon as you get back from shopping, record what you found. Make it a part of your routine to walk through the door (or do this before you even go inside) and immediately head to the map to put down your findings. That way, you won't come back next week and go, "Wait, I know I wrote something down here..." as you stare at a blank spot on the map.
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