A 35-year-old LEGO set for my boy. A pair of insulated bib overalls for my wife. The camp chair perfect for use while fishing. Work boots with no laces. An old-school lamp that gives the perfect ambience for a den.

If you have not successfully pieced together an idea of what all of these items have in common, then this article is for you. Spring has gone, summer is upon us, and garage sales are in full swing! The following is a sure-fire way to make sure that you have the right skills to carpe diem! In fact, it might be a real stuffed carp that catches your eye and would look good on your man cave wall. With my help, you might leave its seller feeling like they made money on the deal, while in actuality they lowered the price of an item in the quarter box to a mere 15 cents. Here we go.

Rule # 1: Get Up Early
There are plenty of people who have the same idea. In order to make sure those punks don’t get the already used junk that you want to make your own used junk, you gotta have that coffee brewed and be ready, alert. On rare occasions you should camp out for a garage sale the night before, but I pass no judgement either way. Say you are looking for some old fishing rods and the sale starts at 8 a.m. You better be there around 7:45 a.m. to make sure they don’t open early and sell your merchandise. I suggest getting out of the vehicle and nonchalantly leaning on the hood. It'll warm your legs allowing you to spring on any potential item that may be just what you’re looking for. Shoot, you might not even need it at all, but isn’t that the point people? As soon as that garage door is raised or the first anti-dew apparatus comes off of the table or lawn-strewn items, you are free to attack. The maxim, “It’s all fair in horseshoes and hand grenades” was never around when garage sales were a thing. Advanced salers may opt to wear padding or even a helmet.

Rule #2: Fanny-Packs Are A Welcome Accessory
When you get the item and have thoroughly scanned the yard, garage, alleyway, etc. ( or even home itself if we’re talking estate sales) you have to pay quickly and get back out on the road. More crap awaits! Again, do you need to know what you’re looking for? Trick question: if you need me to answer that, you may not have what it takes.

The fanny-pack, although uncomfortable at times and arguably not a solid fashion trend, is a fine way to carry loose change, small bills, and other methods of payment. If you’ve got your whole piggy bank, you don’t have free hands to sort through old magazines, a coffee can of knives and rusty nails, or box of loose hunting gear. Pack like a member of a recon. team, light and mobile. For water, a Camelback or beer-hat (which has and can be found while in the garage-saling field) is also a smart move. Hydration is key when we move into the heat and humidity of peak garage-salin’ months.

Rule #3: The Ethics of the Game, AKA Don’t Hate the Payer
Let’s say you’re out there and you are looking for some old tools. All of a sudden, while only planning on taking home a ratchet set or an extra Phillips screwdriver, you see something off in the distance. It’s covered in bubble-wrap and you're pretty certain not-for-sale. In the corner of the homeowner’s garage you slowly start to uncover the treasure which reads “...YET UNREFINED.” You pull off the rest of the covering and see it. That’s right people. It’s a three-by-five foot neon-orange Hooters sign. The crown jewel of any area of the house dedicated to men. It must be yours.

What do you do? Depending on pricing, you may be able to get this for a steal. However, if the guy who used to hang that lustily lit, owl-themed decoration is anywhere in close proximity, it won’t be yours. Wait until the lady of the house and only the lady of the house is present. Quickly, and without hesitation, ask her how much she has to have to get that out of her garage. Eye contact and assertion are key here. We don’t know if the man went in for a seated or standing bathroom break and you’re rolling the dice as it is. When she answers, say that you have exactly ten dollars less than her asking price and have your cash ready to go. Whatever marital concerns arise out of her potential sale to you are not currently your problem. That’s why we pay in cash at these places! He can’t trace it back to you and reclaim his property.

If you are worried what this bold business maneuver may say about your character, then- again- this may be more than you can handle. Here’s the right way to look at it: if he was willful enough to buy the item in the first place, but failed to erect it in a place of prominence despite the much-anticipated eye rolls and “really?(s)” from his lady, he didn’t have a chance in the first place. Something as precious as the sign should go to someone who appreciates it. That’s where you come in.

Rule #4: Hauling and Loot-Retrieval
Veterans will know that retrieving and hauling larger items from a hard day’s salin’ is necessary at times. While you should not be ashamed if your vehicle resembles the Beverly Hillbillies’ 1921 Oldsmobile Model 46 Roadster, it is always a good idea to be prepared. I once successfully packed in a swivel chair, mission desk, mini-fridge, three-fishing poles, a gargantuan teddy bear, two hitch-hikers, AND an actual kitchen sink in and around a small sedan. It was only 9:30 that particular Saturday morning, I found even more goodies, and still didn’t have to use my tie-downs. Sure my head was out the window and I couldn’t really shift, but a lot of people lost their arses on the collective final sale prices and I was outfitted like a king. Those hitch-hikers even made it to their destination at the drive-thru tobacco shop. I didn’t drive through. Made ‘em walk through and got back into the field. I have standards people.

Rule #5: The Drive-By & Parking Strategies
I would be remiss if I did not comment on the art of the drive-by and making use of whatever parking options the seasoned garage-saler has at his or her disposal. Let’s start with the drive-by. This has nothing to do with hydraulics and automatic weaponry. Nay, the drive-by involves a smaller, not-really-worthy-of-getting-out-of-the-car type approach and smiling as you awkwardly do not make eye contact while passing the subtle judgment that their crap is not worth getting out of the car. You know it and they know it. It is what it is. Try not to feel poorly here.

Normally, the fake smile is only necessary if they are repeat garage sale entrepreneurs. If they are only temporarily slacking and most of the time have great crap, you may not want to burn that bridge. Other than that, you can- while still looking them in the eye- drive by while slowly shaking your head. If we’re being honest, they should feel ashamed of having put so little out. Go big or go home.

If the sale IS in fact worthy of a stop, finding adequate parking can in and of itself be a challenge. I suggest a four-wheel drive option, which I should have mentioned in rule #4. You can’t park your Fiat or Beetle in a drainage ditch but, by Golly, any number of SUVs can straddle most sidewalks or other obstacles. Only in the rarest of cases should one leave the vehicle running in the middle of the street. However, if you are on your game, you’ve either saved up enough money to pay a ticket or you have a friend from whom you can, with or without their knowledge, borrow their license plate. (What they don’t know won’t hurt them.) Too, make the ticket easier to swallow by getting them a nice set of lightly used wooden drivers. Sure they need new grips, but it’s the thought that counts.

Rule #6: Loud & Proud
It’s time to wrap this thing up. There’s an outdoor flea market that has early-shopping hours and my trunk is full of old VHS tapes from last weekend; gotta make some room. My last piece of advice is to not get too heated when GSEs, or garage-sale entrepreneur’s, are too proud of their products. The best wheelers and dealers in the game can’t get these types to come down in price.

In a scenario such as this, it’s time to play your trump card. Don’t go freaking out with the “trump card” either, snowflakes. It’s a lowercase “t” and that phrase was around way before your “bad orange man.” If you can’t read between the lines here, leave some money and roll out. That shouldn’t be too hard. For inspiration, or clarification, please continue reading.

In Toy Story 2, the antagonist -- Al of Al’s Toy Barn -- decides to go rogue and steal Sheriff Woody from an unsuspecting mother who is hosting a garage sale. In the film, she promptly tells the would-be Woody owner, that the prized doll is not for sale. He creates a distraction, she leaves the sawhorses and plywood table, and about 20 seconds later you hear the vroom of his engine and notice Woody is nowhere to be seen. Like a bear in the woods and the saying “No cops, no stops” whilst on country roads, is it illegal if no one sees it? For legal and reasons of disclaimer, I have to state that yes, it is indeed illegal. Yet, this is the final test. It gets kinda nitty gritty out there. Do you want to play by the rules or can you not go on without obtaining that nearly-mint condition, still packaged McDonald’s set of transforming condiment toys from 1993? The choice is yours.

I have to thank my mother, the original Garage Salin’ Sensei, for teaching this grasshoppa the ropes and never being ashamed to whittle down a $1.50 hardback copy of her favorite cookbook (that she already owns in paperback) to a mere 47 cents which includes two Canadian pennies that are technically not legal tender.

A true inspiration.