Steps to a Successful Yard Sale

Yard sale season is here! A yard sale can be a great way to make a little extra cash while clearing out the things you don’t need or want. Proper planning is the key to a successful day. You many think that you will have plenty of time the day of the sale to get everything labeled and ready but you would be surprised how early people will show up ready to buy. With a little work and planning you can have a great day!

Here are some tips for a successful sale:

Months before:

  • Start going through your house and arrange a staging area where you can begin packing up and storing things you want to sell.
  • Larger yard sales attract more customers. Ask your neighbors, friends and family if they want to join you and give them time to get their own stuff ready.
  • Check with your Municipality to see if there are any restrictions for yard sales and/or signage in your town. Most towns allow for occasional yard sales but if you have one every week you may be breaking the law.

Weeks Before:

  • Double check all the pockets in any clothing or purses for forgotten receipts, money or jewelry.
  • Start researching ways to announce your sale. Local newspapers and community sites generally need a few weeks advance notice of the actual sale.

Days Before:

  • Get change. How much change you get depends on what you are selling. Generally you will want $100 worth of change: 4-$10 bills, 5-$5.00 bills, 25-$1.00 bills and a roll of Quarters. Also be sure to have some dimes and nickels on hand.
  • Create or buy READABLE signs. Just using a pen or thin marker is not going to work. Find a nice big, dark marker and make thick bold letters for your signs.
  • Announce your sale on Facebook and social media. Look for local Yard Sale sites that allow for postings of yard sales. If you have baby items post on Mommy sites. If you have specialty items, find similar posting boards to announce your sale.
  • Remind family and friends and check on attendance.
  • Borrow extra tables. No one likes to bend down to the ground. Get as much up off the ground and easily accessible as possible. If you don’t have extra tables, use milk crates and boards to create a platform.
  • Make sure you have proper shade for yourself. Find a large umbrella or have a pop-up shade tent ready.
  • Have some tarps ready in case it rains or you need to cover anything up.
  • Make sure your lawn is neat and tidy and the grass is mowed.
  • Price (almost) everything! If you are not sure what an item is worth, leave the price off and wait for the buyer to make an offer. Sometimes they may come back with a figure that is larger than you expected!

The Night Before:

  • Stage everything close to the entrance so you can easily bring it outside and set it up.
  • Pack a lunch. You don’t want to waste valuable time preparing a meal the day of the sale.
  • Try to get some rest. It is going to be a long day!

The Morning Of:

  • Get up early. It takes a lot of work to get everything outside and set up. Give yourself some time before those early birds show up.
  • If possible, ask for help getting everything outside.
  • Put out signs at both ends of your street to direct traffic to your site.
  • Put some large, valuable items out front to attract passers-by.
  • If you have old tools or equipment, put them out to attract male buyers.
  • Don’t leave DVDs, CDs or other media in direct sunlight.
  • Keep everything tidy. As you begin to sell items, rearrange tables so they still look full to attract more buyers.
  • If you have a lot of low-cost items arrange them on a table or bin and label accordingly “$1.00 Table,” $0.25 Bin,” etc.

General tips:

  • Expect people to bargain with you. If you don’t like to make a deal, you won’t enjoy your day.
  • Smile and be friendly. No one wants to buy from a grump!
  • If you have an emotional attachment to your stuff, don’t put it in a yard sale. People shop yard sales for bargains. Sorry, but no one cares about what it meant to you.
  • Even if an item is brand new, don’t expect to get a lot for it. Generally speaking, yard sales bring in 1/3 of the original value of an item.
  • Make sure items are clean. You will get more for them if they are in good condition.
  • If you have items of value like antiques or collectables, a yard sale may not be your best bet for top dollar. Instead, try online sites like eBay to attract a larger audience, or plan an estate sale.
  • Before your sale, visit some local flea markets and talk to the people selling to see if it might be a good fit for you. If you live in a high-traffic area you might do better at home, but if you live off the beaten-path, a flea market might be a better venue for you. Many have special discounts for one-time weekenders.
  • Make sure you are obeying the law. Drop-side cribs and certain items are illegal to sell.
  • Be honest. If an item is broken or missing pieces let the buyer know and price accordingly.
  • Watch out for early birds. They are often dealers looking for valuables or collectibles like Legos, Matchbox or jewelry. It is okay to set hours for your sale and stick to them. It is up to you.
  • Stock up on plastic bags and use them for your customers.
  • Keep an eye on your money box, or better yet, use a fanny pack or cash belt to keep your money close.
  • As you start to get larger bills, put them away inside.
  • Don’t leave valuables laying around.
  • If you are selling computers or cell phones, delete any personal information. Be sure to securely empty the trash/recycle bin or remove the memory cards.
  • If you are selling electronics, have an extension cord so people can test it to be sure it works.
  • Group similar items and consider bagging toys instead of selling individually.
  • People may start piling items or come to you with an armload and make a low offer. It’s okay to go through each item and set your starting price.
  • Have a plan for the leftovers. Some people put it all at the end of the street with a large FREE sign. Others donate usable items to charity.
  • If you don’t want to deal with having a sale yourself, you can always donate your stuff to a local church or Boy Scout sale, or drop it off at your local Community Center or Good Will. Some places even pick up!


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