Farm Sales -How to find them and a few guidelines

Got a great question from Queen of String.. Started to answer and it got long enought  that instead of a reply, it turned into its own post.. so for those new to farm sales, here is some basic info for you.

Any thoughts on how I would find out about farm sales? Plenty of farms here, never seen a sale advertised?


I would google auctions and your closest big town or city, and see if a on-line lists of local sales come up.. or ask at your local feed store, most times they will list the flyers as will our local hardware stores.  Do you have a flea market, go ask the vendors who the local auctioneers are, they will know as they will be coming to the sales looking to buy the best stuff or at least good qaulity at the right price.

Once you find some names, have a good look at their sites and flyers, and you will soon see the difference, some will be only selling really higher end stuff that tends to be sold at their own buildings or at community Centers, but someone’s flyers will show that they sell “on the farm” or “at the home of” those are the sales you want, they are harder to get to, typically you bring your own chair or stand, and you have to hunt for your good buys, because unlike the higher end sellers, everything can be at a farm sale, good an bad.

If you have never been to a live farm sale, here is the basic buying guide, check those box lots, they are often a great deal, but be aware they tend to put one or two higher value items with a number of lower items as sell it as a lot.. “IF”  you know the auctioneer well enough, you can ask him to pull something out of a box, but if you do that, you can not expect to get it for a dollar or two, if you want or hope to get it as a “two” buck buy, you take the box and you deal with the extras.

But lets back up a step, you will have your card and your list of what you want, sit down and write out a list of what items you would like to add to your farm or house.. Here is a few things on my list at the moment, beside the list, you need your top price, you will want to get it as low as possable but for the sale itself, you want to see the top price you will drop out at..

Collecting : Animal Teapots, Handmade Wooden Rolling Pins, old Cookbooks

Farm things, Ceder Fence posts, Metal Gates, Rabbit hutches, Stone boat

House things, Trunks, Glass pie plates, Towels.

Now, that you have your list, you will need to figure out how much you are willing to spend on them, and for me that starts with what is new worth..  So as an example, a new cedar post will cost me 6 dollars plus tax, and gas, so if I can get the same Cedar post for 50 percent or under, its a good deal.

But if its the glass Pie Plates currently new for 10 dollars plus tax, I want them for less then ten percent the going value or better, because I know there will be lots at the different sales, so I am looking for a box lot of 3 to 6 plus extra for 2 to 5 dollars total..  so on somethings I pay between 1% to 10% of the current value and then I out of the bidding and will let someone else take it.

Typically, they will sell things in three ways,

  • Single item held up and sold,
  • A couple of same type of items held up, buyers choice, you can buy one or all at that final price,
  •  by lot sales, which can be sold as you are bidding on one X the number or sold as a unit..

A good seller will be very clear on what its selling as but pay attention as they talk fast!

So we will buy my chairs again… So he starts high, someone is holding up the chair for everyone to see, and they call the wood and that its been redone by XX in 2004 for the seat covers, and its a set of four.. one price X 4 takes them all.. He calls out, who will start me at 100, how about 50? 20.. Good chairs, nice and solid.. yup yup.. who will give me ten.. now come on, I sold just those chairs at so an so’s sale just a few weeks ago, and they went for 20 each… who will give me ten.. well how about five, anyone interested in five.. come on now, don’t anyone want these chairs.. ok, I will set them as a lot.. now its four chairs for the price of one… how about ten, anyone going to give me ten.. At that point, I lift my card in the air, and in a low but clear voice call “Yup” and its picked up and he starts his ramble.. I got ten, Anyone else want in, if not, I’m going to sell it.. Anyone, anyone.. Last chance.. Sold, and its yours..

Now lets try that again when someone else wants what you are after.. So lets take my teapot..Start that again, Its a rare teapot, bla, Bla, lets start at 50, no, and down he goes till he gets to five dollars and someone else bids, do I hear ten, I yup(I want a nice good jump up to tell the other buyer that I am interested, otherwise, you can call out something like Eight and get in on the sale but give the idea that you might or might not really want it) goes to the other person, and he asks for 15, the other does the draw out, and he drops it down to 12, after a moment the person nods head and they call out… 12, looks at second buyer (me) and says 15? clear, low and firm barely looking up, out come the Yup with the flick of my card, now act like a pro, learn your card number, and when they ask the first time, hold it up and call it out, after that.. just call it out, like the regulars do.. other buyer see’s I don’t hum or think about it, its clear and direct with no signs of dropping out, and so they do.. and its mine for 15.

Its worth noting that at most sales, I will bid into something at a lower starting price 3 to 5 times for ever time I in fact buy something, its important to remember when you hit that price paper, you drop out and let someone else take it.. there will always be another sale. Its fun to bid but don’t let the buying fever cost you in the end.

Last but not least, keep track of what you buy and their costs on the back of your number, you should have come to the sale with a firm amount in your mind of what your budget was in terms of money.. did you come with 20, 50 or 100 or more depending on what you were looking to get. Did you have a part set for one item only, or did you come open ended, as in I have 50 dollars today to spend as I see fit? It really helps to see that total growing so that you don’t go crazy and suddenly owe a extra hundred at the end because you lost track of what you bid on and bought..

Keep track of what you got and its price and always double check  that list to your cash out list, sometimes they miss things or odd time they will charge you for something you didn’t buy or they have the wrong price down.. it does not happen often but if you have your list you can check to make sure everything is good.

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2 Responses to Farm Sales -How to find them and a few guidelines

  1. queen of string says:

    That’s excellent info, thank you so much for taking the time to do such a thorough reply. I already have a ” hunting for ” list for general shopping and thrift stores that I think would extend to sales. Like you said, having some fun money might also be a plan. Have to say that dear husband is looking a bit scared ! I shall do a bit of googling and let you know if there are any successes!

    • Glad you liked it, it just ended up way to long for a reply 🙂 sometimes my DH looks the same way at least half the time, he does come with me, it depends if he wants something at the sale, I can go just for the outing, and come home empty handed and still have a good time, he needs to have something to try get to make it worth his time.

      I look forward to hearing how it goes for you in the future.

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