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Tips For Having A Successful Yard Sale

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Like most of you, I’ve been spring cleaning for the past couple of weeks. Okay, maybe I’m the only person who takes WEEKS to finish spring cleaning. Regardless, all of that cleaning has probably left you with a stack of items you found in the process that you realized you no longer need or want yet can’t bear to throw away.

Yard SaleThe practical solution is to throw a yard sale. Just typing that sent shivers up my spine because I deplore holding yard sales. I continue to do them though because there’s no easier way to get cash for your trash.

Fortunately, I’ve learned a few things along the way that make these events less frustrating than they once were for me. Here are a few tips for throwing a successful yard sale that I wish I’d known sooner.

1-3 Weeks Before the Sale

  • Combine Forces – Attract more traffic and reduce your advertising costs by coordinating your sale with your neighbors. If you live in a neighborhood with an HOA, oftentimes the HOA will designate a day for a community yard sale.
  • Advertise – If you aren’t taking part in a community yard sale, make sure you get the word out about your upcoming garage sale by putting an ad in your local paper, posting a listing on Craigslist and putting up signs EVERYWHERE.
  • Start collecting display supplies (e.g. tables, clothing racks) because you will need several to lay out all of your items. Borrow them if you can, rent them if you have to. Don’t forget to plan for an extension cord with a power strip so that prospective buyers can verify that the electronics you are selling actually work.
  • Start collecting sale supplies (e.g plastic or paper bags and boxes for customers to carry their purchases in).
  • Plan for what you are going to do with the items that don’t sell. You can post on freecycle.org to let people know items will be available for free after closing time (whatever you choose) on the day of the sale. Some charities will pick up from your home or you can deliver any leftover items yourself to Goodwill or another local charity.
  • Consider having a snack section (perhaps run by the children) to keep your customers happy AND make extra money. You can offer cold drinks, snacks, homemade baked goods and donuts. Price everything at $1 to make it easy.

1-3 Days Before the Sale

  • Get Cash – You will need lots of quarters and $1 bills and a few $5 bills. Since you’ll probably be walking around answering questions, consider wearing a fanny pack instead of using a cash box.
  • Clean Your Items – If you want someone to buy them, take a few extra seconds and make sure they’re grime-free.
  • Price Your Items
    • As a general rule of thumb, price items at 1/3 to 1/2 retail price.  If you want to make sure it will sell, price it lower.
    • Make sure you label items clearly in a way that won’t damage the item.
    • Consider grouping items by price in boxes, bins or tables so you don’t have to label each individual item.
    • Set Out Checkout Supplies – You’ll need a calculator, pencil or pen, and a pad of paper.
    • Plan For Weather – If the weather report calls for a hot day, set up a couple of fans and perhaps a canopy if you have one. If it calls for wind, consider clearing a larger section of the garage to keep items inside the walls that might be blown over or away.

The Morning of the Sale

  • Start the Sale on Time – You will likely have early birds who are hoping to scoop up the popular items first. Don’t feel bad politely telling them that you will be happy to sell to them at your designated start time. Be sure to be done setting up by the designated start time though because the first hour is typically the busiest.
  • Display Similar Items Together – Make it easy for people to shop your sale by grouping like items (e.g. baby, home décor, tools).
  • Prominently Display Large, Attractive Items – Use your popular items to draw people to your sale by displaying them prominently at the front of the sale.
  • Play Music – The right music can make your sale more welcoming and less intimidating.
  • Set Up Your Snack Station (if you’ve decided to have one)

Winding Down

  • Consider discounting items to half price during the final hour.
  • Remove empty tables, bins, and racks so the sale doesn’t appear picked over.
  • If you posted an end time in your ad and/or on your signs, don’t close early.
  • After the sale, make sure to take down all signs.

I know some people love throwing yard sales and make some decent money doing it too. If you are one of them, please share some of your secrets in the comments. Yard sales have gotten easier over time for me, but I still dread doing them so clearly I have more to learn!

20 thoughts on “Tips For Having A Successful Yard Sale”

  1. I like how you have organized everything in your post. I want to learn about this, however hubby doesn’t like doing the yard sale. i still have so many things in the basement mostly kids stuff. but since we aren’t done on having kids, i could not give it out or else we are going to waste too much money if i will.

  2. i love going to yard sales. i don’t necesarrily buy all the time only if when i find one for a steal of a price.:)

  3. These tips are very helpful. You know I have been meaning to have a yard sale for years now but I don’t have the courage to. I might follow your tips and have one this year.

  4. Those are some really good tips! We are planning on having one in a month or so, so this post came in perfect time!

  5. Our HOA only allows one twice a year and it is a community one. They advertise it and it is always busy (sometimes you can not get out of your driveway because of traffic.) These are great tips for everyone.

  6. I really need to have a yard sale! Thanks for the great information it will come in handy.

  7. Awesome tips. Thank you. I plan to have a hard sale very soon.

  8. GREAT TIPS!! I have so much stuff I need to get rid of, i need to have a GIANT YARD SALE!!

  9. We considered having a yard sale recently but didn’t however this article would have came in handy. Very informative.

  10. Whata great list!! I have to admit I’m more of the one shopping then hosting—but about every third year I have one to sell all the stuff I bought at other sales and thought I MUST HAVE =)

  11. Sound like good tips. I’ve never had a yard sale but years ago, when in a single’s group, I helped with a group yard sale. As with all things, “many hands made light work” and it was fun.

    I think if I were to ever be in a group that did one again, I’d do it. I’ll remember these tips.



  12. This is definitely a good read! I’ll recommend this to my friends who are interested in having a yard sale 🙂

  13. This is and excellent list! I always do yard sales and I love yard saleing also. I never really thought about the music part, but that is a great idea. I do tend to shop around more if I hear a song I like or at least to listen to the rest of the song.. 🙂

  14. Great post and fantastic tips! I personally get so scared of hosting a garage sale I end up taking everything and donating it to Goodwill. LOL! Maybe I’ll get the courage to tackle hosting one thanks to this post 😉

  15. Does anyone know what kind of stuff does best at garage sales? I can’t decide if clothes, books etc actually sell very well. Any ideas would be helpful.

  16. Yard sales are the best! My husband came home with a little motorized scooter for a steal, fixed it up and now I ride it all over the neighborhood! Not only do I love it, the kids love it as well. Your article made me think about the fact that I bring so much stuff home from a yardsale, but I never throw one myself. My husband has so much stuff stiil sitting in the garage that he no longer uses, but I am not sure that hunting gear and automotive parts are the best garage sale items. Maybe I’ll put some of my scrapbook stuff out there to make it look better. Thanks for the tips . . .

  17. I have thought of having a yard sale-unfortunately I live in an apartment and the town won’t let us. So when I find things that I no longer want or need it goes to Goodwill or one of the other charities. My Mom has picked up lots of nice items at year sales and visits them frequently with her friends.

  18. I love the whole buzz of yard sales, they are just so much fun and its amazing how much money you can make on things that you were only going to throw away. Great tips thanku x


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