Seven Steps To Yard Sale Success

Seven Steps To Yard Sale Success

If you are planning on moving in the near future, you’re probably starting to realize how much extra “stuff” you have around the house!

It’s a waste of time and energy to move all of your unwanted items to the new house. You might want to think about having a yard sale instead. You’ll save space and reduce clutter in your new living space, plus you’ll end up with some extra cash to help you with the moving costs!

Here’s your complete step-by-step guide to success at your next yard sale:

Step 1: Get It Together.

Go around your house and gather anything you don’t want to take with you to your new home. Many professional organizers recommend getting rid of any clothing items that you haven’t worn in the past six months to a year. Also consider selling any electronics you don’t use, furniture items that won’t fit well with your new floor plan, and any knickknacks that just cause unnecessary clutter. Remember that one person’s trash is another person’s treasure, so keep that in mind before you throw away an item that you don’t think will sell.

Now that you have all of this “stuff,” it’s time to organize.
Put books with books and dishes with dishes. You get the picture. All like items together. This will make things considerably easier for you later on.

Step 2: Plan The Basics

You will need to choose the time and date of your sale. If you can, schedule your garage sale during warm months, and check the 10-day forecast before setting a date. The second Saturday of every August is National Garage Sale Day, and Expo Idaho hosts “Idaho’s Biggest Garage Sale” every May. Neighborhoods and subdivisions often have days designated for community yard sales as well. You will likely experience a large turnout if you have the opportunity to schedule your sale during these days, but keep in mind that you will also have more competition.

If possible, you may want to also have your sale on or right after the 1st or the 15th of any month. People are often paid on these day and will be more likely to buy.

As far as days of the week are concerned, avoid having your sale on a weekday or holiday. Most people are working during the week and you won’t get much traffic other than retirees and possibly resellers. Saturday is by far the best day to schedule a yard sale. Sunday is so-s0; you’ll likely get a few visitors, but not as many as you would have on a Saturday.

When you set a time for your yard sale, start early. Most sources say the busiest times are between 7am – 11am. Things will start to slow down in the afternoon, and most people opt to close up shop before 3pm.

Step 3: Spread the Word.

Start by letting your friends, family, and neighbors know that you’re having a sale. Send out an email and put out posts on your social networking pages. Distribute flyers to your neighbors. You might consider previewing some of the best items with pictures to stir up interest in your inventory.

You’ll also want to write an ad for your yard sale and spread the word on the internet and in local shops and grocery stores. Some popular places to advertise your sale online include Craigslist garage sale listings, newspaper classified ads, or other sites designed specifically for locating and announcing such sales. Some examples include,, and

When writing your ads and your yard sale signs, remember to include the date and time of your sale, your address, directions, and any other information that might be important (such as if you accept cash only). The words that sell the best are “Collectibles” and “Everything Must Go!”

Your yard sale sign should be written with a bold black marker on a bright yellow card stock. It really catches the eye and makes it easier to read. Make sure to write legibly as well (print out or have someone else write the sign if your handwriting isn’t neat). Don’t make the mistake of writing too small. Make your printing large enough that people can see it when they drive by. Add a large arrow to signs – and don’t forget to put your address on it.

Step 4: Price your items.

Keep in mind that people shopping at yard sales are searching for a bargain. Avoid over-pricing your items if you want them to sell. With that being said, expect people to try to negotiate. You can always go down in price, but not up. A good rule of thumb is to price items at 1/4 or 1/3 of what they would sell for new. Clothes are an exception, as they usually don’t sell as well as other garage sale items (people can’t try them on). Use your discretion; while your armoire might easily sell for 1/3 of what you originally paid, an old textbook that was originally $100 will most likely not.
Try to put a tag on everything, preferably in a visible spot, so you won’t have to answer questions about pricing all day. Sometimes it is easier to have a sign that advertises one price for all items in the same category, like “All DVDs are 50 cents,” or “Items on this table = $2 each.” You can also color code your items and have pricing guides such as, “All items with red stickers = $1.” They sell small stickers that are good for this in the office supply section of most stores.

Some things, like books and sweaters or other clothing, will sell better if you sell them as two-for-one or three-for-one. Create small cards to place on your set of books say, “3 for $5.00.” Now, aren’t you glad you already have all your books together?

Step 5: Get Ready For Business

You’ll want to do a lot of prepping the day before your sale, since you’ll be up very early the next day setting up. Make sure all of your items are dusted and clean, and launder all of the clothing that goes on sale. Try to put [old or extra] batteries in anything that needs them. Some people even plug in electronics like televisions or stereos to show them off and prove that they work. You can do this outdoors with an extension cord. The better your items look, the more money you will get for them.

Don’t forget to check the pockets of all your clothes for money and other objects you might not want to get rid of. You should also check the drawers of your furniture.

The last thing to do the day before your sale is get everything ready to go for bright and early the next day. Make sure you have directional signs prepared and plan where you will put them. Gather some folding tables and a chair or two. Have a cash box or fanny pack and make sure you have lots of change in it; don’t be surprised if more than a few people try to buy $0.50 items with a $20 bill. A calculator might be useful for counting change and adding up totals if someone buys a lot of items. Have extra plastic bags ready for people to hold their purchases and have a stash of newspapers to wrap delicate and fragile items. You might not have time to make breakfast or lunch, so you should consider making some snacks to eat during the day.

Some people like to put their signs up a day or two before to attract attention from people that drive by. If you do this, make sure you write the date and times of the sale very clearly so that you don’t have confused shoppers showing up early.

On the morning of your sale, set up your tables and other areas. Make sure your interesting items are visible to the street so that they catch the eye of passer-byes. Another way to attract people is by showing off a box of free goods in the front of the sale (make sure to label it as “FREE!”). Women are more prone to exploring sales, so if you have any “manly” items, like tools or appliances, make them visible from the street as well. Put your chair and “register” in a place where you can easily see and monitor everything going on.

Group similar items together. Set up a table especially for smaller items such as jewelry. Antique dealers have a secret for selling small items: display them on a dark colored tablecloth. This shows them off better than light colors or bare tables. Also, sorting jewelry into individual baggies gives the idea that each item is special – even if it’s not!

Avoid having pets out on the day of your sale, even if they are very friendly. Most people won’t mind, but other people might be allergic or have kids that are afraid of dogs, etc.

After you are completely set up, put your signs up around the neighborhood if you haven’t already. Put some music on if you want, and wait for your first customers. Don’t be surprised if some early birds show up 15 – 20 minutes before your advertised start time; some people do this to make sure they have “first pick” out of the inventory.

Step 5: Rake in the Cash

Ready, Set Go! You have everything ready so now you can sit back and collect your money. Well, not really. If you want to really sell, you need to join the crowd and talk to your customers. Greet them, but don’t hover. Make them happy. Give a toy to a child. Dicker over the price of an item. Throw something in for free and tell them, “The more you buy, the cheaper you can get it.” Your ultimate goal here (besides making money) is to get rid of your clutter!

Make sure to guard your money and keep an eye on your valuable items throughout the day. You might want to call a friend to help you; they’ll help you pass time when it’s slow and help you keep an eye on things when it gets busy.

When things start to slow down, consider dropping prices and having a “blowout” for the remaining items. You can usually do this starting around 1pm.

Step 7: The Aftermath

As soon as the yard sale is over, take down your signs. Then, take everything that is left to a charity such as Good Will or the Salvation Army. For bigger items that are hard to transport, you can advertise them on the Craigslist “free” section and give them away to anyone willing to pick it up. That will make your yard sale a true success – cleaning out all of your unwanted stuff!

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