Yard sale season is coming up soon. Real soon.
If you've caught the KonMari bug like I have, you're going to have a whole lot of stuff to sell this year! Man, that book has changed my life. But that's a post for another time.
This is about what you need to know to get ready for a yard sale.
Top 40 Ultimate Yard Sale Tips
Timing Is Everything
- Most of your traffic and money will be made in the first two hours. Be prepared for it. Don't be sitting there in your jammies trying to have a cup of joe and ogling Pinterest. It's game time!
- If your community has a community yard sale day where the whole town is encouraged to have sales, TAKE ADVANTAGE OF IT. It's normally free advertising, plus there will be more people tooling around town checking out the sales than on a normal day.
- In this part of the country, prime yard sale season is April through June. After that it slows down, so try to have your sales during the months when the most people are in the "mood".
- If you're adventurous, try having a late winter or very early spring sale to monopolize on less competition. Hardcore salers are always up for a sale and will trek through a snowbank to get to the first sale of the season.
- Start your sale early in the morning. 8:00 am is optimal, but if you can start earlier you might catch some early worms. Or birds. Or whatever.
Advertise That Sale!!!
- You've put a lot of time into gathering all this stuff, pricing it and displaying it, now make sure people will come!
- Advertise on Craigslist, list on Facebook yard sale groups in your area and the local newspapers too.
- Use photos in your ads where allowed.
- Include list of types of things your selling including hot items you think might draw people in.
- Be creative and memorable. Write catchy titles and phrases in your ad like calling your sale the Help Me Not Become A Hoarder Sale or saying "I have to make room for my husband's car in the garage", etc. You want YOUR sale to stand out in the sea of 1,492 other sales that weekend.
- If your town allows, place signs up the day before.
- Use the word SALE, an arrow, a street address and the start and end times. ONLY. I've seen yard sale signs that list everything they are selling and that is just way too much busyness on a sign.
- Use BIG signs.
- Make them out of cardboard or thick posterboard. You get extra points for using those neon foamboards you can find at the craft stores, because it's all about visibility.
- I would avoid the small 8x10 plastic signs you can buy at the hardware store. They just aren't unique enough to catch the eye and are way too small for me.
- Go to the bank the day before and get enough change. Normally I try to have at least $30 in ones and $50 in fives along with a roll of quarters.
- And hey, if you don't charge less than a quarter for any item, you won't need to get any dimes and nickles. It's not 1954 anyhow.
- Keep the money with you at all times. Maybe in a cute little apron or a tool belt thingie from the hardware store? Or a fanny pack if you want to be uber-stylish. And of course, pockets will always do.
- If you want to get all fancy, you could get a Square Reader for your phone and accept credit cards (I believe it's 2.75% fee per card swipe, but don't quote me).
PRICE YOUR STUFF
- And yes I am yelling! As a yard sale junkie I have to say my number one pet peeve is a yard sale where nothing is priced.
- My number two pet peeve, and what will make me walk away in a hot second flat, is when I then ASK how much something is and you say "Make me an offer". Are. You. Kidding. Me!!!
- So if you want people to BUY something (sort of the point of a yard sale), put a price on it. The end.
- If you are having a two day sale you may want to think about having a ½ off sale on the second day after Noon. Traffic will have slowed down by then and it is a chance to at least get a little something for your remaining items.
Clean It Up
- Don't sell broken stuff and stuff that doesn't work. There's lots of odd things that people like to buy at yard sales, but your broken blender that shoots sparks out of it when you plug it in is not one of them.
- If you are selling gardening supplies, hose them off prior to the sale. Dust off any items you've had stored in your basement. Windex that priceless antique mirror that you have suddenly found a price for.
- It's a good idea to have an extension cord hooked up and batteries available so people can test appliances.
- If you are setting up in the morning, start at least an hour before your opening time. I prefer to set up everything on tables in my garage the day before so I can just take carry them out of the garage in the morning.
- Don't even think about throwing some tarps on the ground, throwing piles of clothes on it and calling it a day. Your clothes will get damp and no one wants your old damp clothes. Instead, hang your clothes on a rolling clothes rack or assuming you don't have one, you can make a hanging "rod" by putting a broomstick or clothesline between two stepladders.
- Organize all like things together. All lamps together, all books in one place, all weed wackers in one place. The bonus is that if you make it organized and maybe even a little pretty, people will buy more. And, come on, you want people to buy more.
- If you're selling furniture, don't use it to hold other items for sale. A person needs to look at a table and see a table, not see four legs sticking out from beneath a pile of 64 Beanie Babies.
Good Customer Service Is Not Dead
- Be pleasant and approachable. But not constantly over their shoulder and creepy. When I go to a sale I like to be able to recognize who is running the show and then have them leave me alone to shop in peace.
- A clear and obvious check-out table is a great idea. How many times have you had to hunt down the homeowner to PAY.
- Have bags and boxes available to wrap larger purchases.
- Don't be offended if people try to haggle, reality tv has pretty much made this a "thing" now. I normally price larger items at least $5 - $10 more than I am actually willing to accept.
- Think about having a lemonade stand or selling bottled water and pop. One of the cutest yard sales I've been to recently had a cute little kid set up in the front yard with a lemonade stand. I couldn't help but buy a cup and it made the sale more of an "experience" than just a typical yard sale.
After Sale Wrap Up
- Count your cash and subtract the amount you put in for change this morning.
- Pat yourself on the back for a job well done!
- Don't be a dork and a litterer - take down all those signs you put up yesterday. Your conscious will thank you. The world will thank you.
- Return any borrowed tables.
- Box up your left-over stuff and send it off to the thrift store. DO NOT bring it back in your house. I repeat, you didn't want it this morning, so just because it didn't sell does not make you want it any more. Just cut your losses and donate it to a good cause.
If you want to use it as a checklist, you can get a printable version of my Top 40 Ultimate Yard Sales Tips HERE
OK, I've got nothing else for you. Go forth and have the best yard sale EVER in the history of yard sales!
Do you have any tips to add to the ever-growing list?
P.S. - You also might like my Top 10 Thrift Store Shopping Tips, sort of like yard sales in reverse. Oh wait, you are trying to get RID of all your stuff, not get more stuff.
Linda @ Itsy Bits And Pieces
This is an awesome guide, Pam! You've said it all! The only other thing I can think of...if part of the sale is in a garage, leave enough room for people to get through.
Thank you. One tip I might add. I always add pictures to my yard sale post and without fail people will always try to buy anything worthwhile beforehand. Leaving me with all the hot stuff gone and when the sale starts and people show up and ask where is that nice table and lamps etc. Its embarrassing to start a yard sale with just a pile of used socks and all the items actually sold the day before.
i LOVE yard sales but...the sign has to be big enough to read as you drive by, the other thing i hate is people who say-on the internet it's this much. well, then put it on the internet! lots of good ideas, pam. thank you.
That seems to be a trend at sales around here - they'll print out a photo of an ebay listing of the item showing the price the person is ASKING for it. a) that's an asking price, not what it is going to sell for on ebay and b) You are not going to get ebay prices for something at a yard sale 🙂
No joke there is a lady in our neighborhood that constantly garage sales and she tries to sell her things at ebay prices. She even tells you no I won't take less than x amount because that is what they are selling on ebay for. There is a lot more work involved to sell something on ebay vs a garage sale.
Be prepared to make a deal if someone buys multiple items at once, like a 10% discount off the total of all the items they want to buy. Obviously, you can't charge tax, and if someone asks if you can hold something for them, get a cash deposit and a specified time for pickup. Most people don't show up after noon, so I would also suggest having it 8-12 so you don't waste your whole afternoon. I have also had a lot of luck potting up divisions of hardy perennials in extra plastic pots or 16 oz cups in early spring, let them leaf out for a month and selling them right before Mother's Day, as mix and match 3 for $10.
Awesome tips, Amy!!! I've been burned on the "hold something" deal. I could have sold it three times over and then the person never shows back up again!
I do not put two day or three day sale on my signs.....Just say today. When I am driving around looking for sales I do not go to sales that I know I am there on day two. Yes, make the signs big and a defining color as in a certain colored ribbon, fabric and so on. and be like Hansel & Greta...leaving crumbs....Put up a few on their way to your house so customers know they are on the right path~ I can't wait for the season to arrive~
I so agree with Kathleen on the multiple signs! I use neon green signage with LARGE black lettering. Our village has a community sale but I live out of town 1.5 miles on a rural road. I use multiple signs all down our road to entice them to keep coming. "keep going" "you're almost there" "straight ahead" and "you made it!" in the yard. Most everyone comments on the signs, they say they had to keep going as their curiosity was peaked. Also most everyone is smiling and we don't get many grumps! What they don't know, until they leave, is there are messages on the back also, like "Did you have fun?" "Find some bargains?" "see you next year". And yes! take down your old signs! we are vacationing in FL and spent this morning following garage sale signs for sales we never did find. Now my hubby is gunshy about ever doing that again! Dang it! So frustrating.
Arlene, I love it when I see signs like you describe...that tell me I'm almost there...so helpful in rural areas.
And I also hate it when I'm out looking for a sale and it happened weeks ago.
That's a great idea Kathleen about not putting that it's a 2-3 day sale. I don't go when I know they already had it the day before.
Music! The oldies are always a safe bet.
Amen to the note about not putting a sheet out about ebay! Nothing ticks me off more! I love your tips, and as a frequent yard saler myself AND a new blogger, I wrote a similar article about how to give a sale and another one about what not to say in your ad. I agree wholeheartedly with all of your tips!
I also hate to see stuff laid out on a tarp on the ground.
And then there are those that have sat out all night & everything is covered with dew the next morning. Then I'm supposed to be interested in buying wet furniture???
Oh yeah, I've been to the damp sales before!!! I just checked out your What not To Say In Yard Sales Ads - great article! I'm going to post a link to it on my facebook page tonight!
~ Counterfeit money is going around at garage sales. Be sure & use a pen that detects counterfeit bills..... and use it on every bill given to you!! Once the person leaves, you cannot recoup your money!!
Excellent tip, Debi!!! I never thought of that, but I need to pick up one of those pens (I used to use them all the time when I worked with money at my old job)!
You did an amazing job on this pin post! It caught my attention and held onto it like a tenacious puppy! Very entertaining, yet highly informative!
Great tips! Pricing is the hardest part but a must. I too will walk away if I have to ask when nothing is priced. I also love a staged sale it looks nice and organized.
Remember it's a yard sale though! I leave if I see retail prices. Just sayin.
Very detailed and applicable, thanks!
Everyone needs to remember that the difference between Garage sale and a Garbage sale is just one letter, it is a fine line that is easily crossed.
The worst thing you can do is set up a sale that has nothing but plain old crap in it!
My wife and I have had some very successful sales having employed most of the same ideas you listed, one of the big boosts for us was to set up a big 40 cup coffee urn, paper cups, cream and sugar. Then my wife walks around with freshly baked, still warm cookies. Makes people stay and shop, makes them feel obligated too!
What is a staged sale?
I believe it is a term when a company is selling the content of a home and they charge a fee to tag every item before the sale starts. That is in the NY metropolitan area.
These are excellent tips! I’ll be sure to incorporate them at my next yard sale!!
Great tips, thank you. Keep up the beautiful job you are doing.
I work at a thrift store and it would be very much appreciated if you would remove all price stickers. Thank you
Best yard sale I ever had was when my dog had a litter of pups I gave them away one a first come basis while they
With the instrustions, free need their shots, if it does not work out bring them back. Only one was returned!!