Tips For Shoppers

A brief refresher course for veteran shoppers and introduction of events for our newbies to follow;

You arrive, park rationally and follow all parking signs.
Be kind to the neighbors and keep your voice down to a minimum.
When you venture to the front door unless it is in the wee hours of the morning you will sign up on the entry list manned by whomever was earlier than yourself. If you are there first, by all means start a list. Chances are you will not be first unless you slept in your vehicle as many folks show up to shop these sales at midnight or before if there is something they deeply desire.
Once you have signed your name onto the list, you may not leave the sale or your name will be removed. This is not to say you can’t return to your car to rest, go inside to use the restroom, talk to a neighbor or walk your dog. Just don’t drive off and go shopping or home and expect to return to your name where it was. The folks who watch the list are very particular that they keep the entry fair. This works for us too as we are all about fair and square treatment on both ends.

At the time you sign in you will want to grab a raffle entry that Jane most times has up front of the line. This is your chance to add any constructive criticism to our sale format for me to read in my office and hopefully take into consideration for future sales. I try to read all of the comments and kudos and all of the constructive criticism as well. We try to implement the useful advice you give us.
You don’t like the donuts, think Tupperware is too expensive, would rather have decaf…this is the time to say what you think. In the future, if your name gets called on the raffle and you have left off a comment, we will call the next name so it could be worth $100 to not be lazy and give us your thoughts.
At any rate, while you are signing into the line list, sign up for the raffle and comments ok? Great!
Now we have you sit and relax. Depending on when you arrive this can be awhile. We make every attempt to see that you are comfortable.
Chairs, canopy, coffee, donuts, toilet, water, friends and family.
You are welcome here and you have found a comfortable surrounding to relax in until the fun starts. Introduce yourself to new friends.
At 9am precisely one of us or one of you will dig through the raffle box and call out the winner for the $100 credit to that day’s sale.
Whomever is called will use that credit to buy something they want.
The credit is not transferable to another buyer.
You may not carry it over to another sale.
This is used that day at that place.
If the person who is called did not leave a comment or is not present, we will simply pull another name and they will be the winner.

Get ready…its now time to SHOP!!!

We open the doors and let you in to shop. As you enter the sale be sure to grab a checkout number from Steve or Blanca Topper or whomever is at the front door offering them. This is the time to think ahead and get that number to keep your wait at checkout shorter and more organized. If you forget to grab a checkout number when you enter it may take a long while to get cashed out once you return to pay.

Our lines have occasionally gotten quite long and while we now mostly have TWO cashiers to help you get settled up when you are ready to pay and go…it is still more timely to have your number in advance. If your number is called and you are still shopping, when you exit they simply go back to your number.
For example if we have just checked out number 145 Steve will then ask is there anyone here below number 146? Then he will call the lowest of those present.

This makes for a fair game plan all along and believe me when I say this is the best method we could offer for a fast and easy checkout of a busy sale.
After 30 years of trying various options, this seems the smoothest.
Here is a list of some of the questions I am asked daily and my responses to those inquiries if you are interested.
About pricing…how do we know what it will cost?
If an item is not priced bring it up front and the girls will price it for you at that time. If the price is too high for you and you do not want it for that price, they will put it back out for sale. Most items tend to be priced but many houses have over 100,000 items so it would not be possible to price all items when you do multiple sales per week, nor do many items warrant a price-tag as they tag may be worth more than the actual item. Remember the discounting time-frame listed above for each sale.
What if I want to buy something large I cannot carry?
We can normally help you load but you should always bring sold signs with your name on them and number to tag the item as soon as you enter and then go pay and then load.

How long can things stay on the premises?
This depends on the family and our access to the home.

Can they put things on hold and then pay on the phone and
come get them another day?
No, you must be there in person to buy.

Can you get a discount?
Yes, normally you will get a higher discount as the day progresses-note the discounting hours at the top of this page. Also depending on the bulk of your purchases, Pam and Kris may discount your group depending on how many items you have chosen to buy…the more items the larger the discount.
Do you get a better discount when you pay cash?
Because all credit card companies charge commissions, we are able to give a healthier discount for cash transactions. That’s a fact.

What if I come to a  sale and the item I wanted is not here?
The only time this happens is if the family takes the items out of the house after the contract is signed and photos are taken and before you enter.
I wish we had control of this but we don’t.
There is simply no way to force a person to honor their promises of verbal or written contract… or we would have no divorce in this country or elsewhere.
I hope this little list of questions and answers has been of some help to you new folks and also the seasoned veterans of our sales.


A few suggestions for those who have not shopped our sales and want to have a good experience while doing so:

If you are coming to the presale for our Email list only remember that the sign up sheet outside the sale is created, disciplined, and enforced by our buyers only.  We are not in charge of it.  This does not mean we don’t recognize the overall rulings of the list.  The list manages who enters the sale and in what order.  You may not leave once you arrive and sign up on the list or you will relinquish your place in line.  The people in line do not mind if someone goes to and from their vehicle but once you drive away from the home and come back, you are going to be at the back of the line to enter the sale… so please stay put once you arrive.  There are times the list has been over 200 names long and so it is important to respect who is going inside the home in what order.

Never ever ever smoke in line or in front of the home, instead do that in your car.  It is difficult for many, including Jennie, to breath when smoke is near and many others cannot tolerate having smoke blown in or near their faces so please abstain from smoking at our sales or you will be called out on it openly and public embarrassment is never a good thing.

We offer coffee, donuts, and water at most of our sales for your pleasure free of charge.  Whenever possible we hire a facility for you to use when the home bathrooms are not available.  Due to the volume of our sales, the porta potty company is not always available for us on short notice so please be aware that there are days you will have to drive off and use the restroom at a public place, in which case you may lose your spot in line.  Come prepared with an empty bladder if you are planning on arriving early and waiting in line for a long while.

It is always good to be prepared.  Bring boxes, bags, and/or paper you plan on using to wrap just in case we run out.  It is common for us to go through 200-500 boxes and bags a day.  Come to the sales with your sold stickers in hand.  They can say something like “Sold to Jane Doe 916-123-4567”.  It is also good to have your own pen, be patient and do NOT ever shop or pilfer off of hold tables out in front of the sale.  Even digging through someone else’s box is a show of disrespect and you may be asked to leave.

Unless the family requests otherwise, we have a weekly or bi-weekly raffle that you may enter at the time you come to the line.  We ask for a comment on the raffle ticket:  how to improve our sales, constructive criticism, compliments, anything you feel like writing so we know you are really thinking when you arrive and become part of our shopping network.  If your name is called and you are the winner your $50 or $100 prize (depends on the size and volume of the content of the home) is non-transferable and can only be used by you the day you are there.  Thanks.

When we do open the door, every single person in the line is in most cases allowed inside the home.  Obey the signs and follow what they ask of you.  Be polite, kind and respectful of the people ahead or behind you.  If someone is using a walker or wheelchair, be mindful and give them room.  If they have children, kindly ask them to hold their tyke.  At the very least they should have their child in-hand to avoid them being stepped or trampled on.  Once the sale begins, you are requested to carry your own items from inside the home in your own boxes and bring it all out to the hold table.  The one exception is with large items and we will send a crew-person in to help you with that endeavor.

Please do not ask a price for each and every item in the house before shopping.  Realize we are too busy and it makes no sense to sticker each and every one of 50,000 plus items a sale or twice a week.  It has been our experience that you can sell hundreds of thousands of items unmarked for a fair price and have everyone involved:  shopper, family, and neighbors happy with the outcome at the end of the sale.  On the other hand, realize that we are motivated to sell every item by the end of the sale or it is most often free.  We have no intention of giving you a price you will not pay so have faith that Jennie will be fair.

If you have picked out something from our smalls or jewelry tables, which man their own line with one shopper per each manager of the table (normally five on five), we hold those valuables until you are ready to check out with Jennie so be sure to alert her to add those items to your bulk price.  She will separate that price from the inside groupings but it is common for folks to forget their smalls and then a week later wonder where they went when they get home and finally go through the items in their trunk.  Tie a ribbon to your finger if you have to but do attempt to remember your jewelry and smalls when you get called for checkout.

If you are aware of someone shoplifting or having odd behavior like seeing them place anything in a pocket or glancing around before they hide it away in a closet or cupboard, alert Jennie or a crew-member and it will be taken care of immediately.  Theft, disrespect, or dishonest behavior is not rewarded at our sales and the list of banned shoppers grows each year as our following gets larger.  Our email list is just over 7,000 and getting stronger each day.  We do not suffer fools kindly.  Let us know off to the side, and we will take care of it.

Once you are done shopping, immediately acquire a number to pay (which is usually given out by Steve or Kris).  Once you get a number, you are on your way to owning your group of items found in the sale.  There are times Jennie has had over 195 numbers to go through in pricing, even 200… so please be patient and she will get to you.  Being rude or obnoxious by trying to ask a price when it is not your turn, is NOT the way to get the best price, rather it is the way to getting asked to leave the sale empty handed.

An organized shopper will have nearly all of their chosen items laid out of the boxes they are held in (small items are not a problem to leave in the boxes) larger or clothing items are good to group together so that Jennie may arrive at a fast and fair price for you on your grouping of purchases.  If you do need to know the price of each item (which ads up to more than the price quoted as you get a discount off of the group so it is common more items will be the same or less money than less) please alert Jennie prior to adding your items up so that she can set your things into groups of dollar amounts; $1, $3, $5 and so on.  This will enable Jennie to show you what each item is costing you and doesn’t take all that long but it is annoying for you to ask this to be done after she has already spent 20 minutes adding your 50+ items and given you a price and should be onto the next person in line, and you want her to start all over.  Be thoughtful please.

If you do not agree with the price offered and want it for significantly less, please come back when we are having discount period at the end of the sale.  Allow us to obtain more money for the family from someone who values the items more than you do.  This is only fair.

Be prepared to pay cash or card immediately following.  Jennie no longer accepts checks.

Once completed and paid for you may remove the items to your car.  The larger items are normally loaded by the crew for you, but once in a while you may have to recruit a friend or fellow shopper when we are short handed which is not often.

Thanks so very much for making our job easier by being an educated shopper:  one who wants to make everyone’s job easier, one who wants to enjoy the experience, and a shopper who wants to return again and again to find treasures they can love for a lifetime while having pleasant memories of how they obtained them from our sales.

Thanks for the read
Jen and crew