It’s a long awaited day in my neighborhood: Neighborhood Yard Sale day!

I make it a point to stop at as many neighborhood yard sales as I can, even if I’m not in the market for the baby strollers or lawn tools they have prominently displayed by the curb. I’m much more interested in the woman counting the change! Yard sales are one of the most effective ways I’ve found to meet my neighbors. It’s one time when it’s not weird to approach your neighbor and start a conversation.

Here’s how to score new friends and great bargains at your neighborhood yard sale:

  1. Introduce yourself. “Hi, I’m Amy and I live on the corner of Rosewood and Longwood.” Let your neighbor know you’re more than just a savvy shopper. Don’t be shy about asking for their name, too. Talk about the neighborhood, how long you’ve lived here, who you know in common. Find out what they love about your neighborhood, or what their concerns may be.
  2. Ask a question. Talk about their stuff (being careful not to detract from other customers). Say something like, “How much is this toaster?” if you’re actually interested in buying it, or, “What do you like about a toaster oven instead of a pop-up toaster?” if you’re just making small talk. Use the products they’re selling to probe their personality. Questions like, “Where do you go fishing around here?” or “What’s your favorite cookbook?”, can lead to revealing conversations.
  3. Buy something. Anything! Keep a few quarters in your pocket and buy any ol’ thing just to make a connection. If you do negotiate price (which is perfectly acceptable and even expected), err on the side of generosity. I don’t mind overpaying for a trinket if it’s just a few bucks–consider it an investment in your neighborhood and a deposit in your heavenly account!
  4. Set something up. Leave the door open for a future encounter. Ask if they’re attending a community event like a Neighborhood Watch or Block Party. Don’t have a Neighborhood Watch or Block Party? Then ask if they’d be interested in helping plan one.
  5. Write it down! Keep a notepad in your car or make a note on your smartphone, so that whenever you meet a new neighbor you can jot down their name and something you learned about them (“Cathy and Bob, 1825 Clayton Drive, poodle named Tootsie,  4 grandkids, collects penguins”).

If you’re having a yard sale, strike up a conversation with all your shoppers. If you meet a new neighbor, make sure you tell them your name and ask for theirs. Again, err on the side of generosity when it comes to prices. Jot down anything personal you discover, and follow up when you can. If there are any upcoming community events, pass out a flyer with the dates and times or write it down for them.


I wish I had the energy and time to sort through my own junk, but this year I’m content to shop my neighbors’ sales. My best yard sale buy? A giant inflatable rhinoceros! He’s a real conversation piece when he shows up in our neighbors’ yards on their birthdays. You just never know what treasures you’ll find among your neighbor’s trash. Who knows, you might even find a new friend.

This post was originally published at Not Quite Amish Living, a blog for women who want more peace in our lives, our homes, our families and our hearts.

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