Yard sales and garage sales are a great way to earn some extra cash while decluttering and cleaning out. If you take the time to plan and advertise well, you’ll set yourself up for successful sale.
I love both shopping at and hosting yard sales. My friends and family know I’m always willing to help organize and carry out their sales. With my experience as both buyer and seller, I’ve put together a list of the most important tips for having a successful, money-making yard sale.
- Choose a good weekend
- Good weather is best for you and your customers, so try to choose one that’s dry and not sweltering.
- Holiday weekends are usually not a good choice, as families have lots of other things going on. If your town hosts a big event, you might consider doing your sale in conjunction with the event, though it could be hit or miss depending on your location.
- If your neighborhood hosts an annual sale, that would be a perfect time. You’ll get lots of free advertising and traffic.
- Location, location, location
- Choose a location that is accessible from main roads. If your house is hidden deep in a neighborhood, you might want to collaborate with a friend in a better location.
- Have lots of stuff
- People will often drive by before stopping. If the pickings look slim many people won’t even get out. There are lots of competing sales, so people won’t waste time on your sale if you don’t have a good selection.
- Invite friends to sell their wares along with you. You’ll attract more customers and you’ll have more fun!
- Traditional ads
- Depending on the area you live in, advertising in the newspaper could make or break your sale. Some newspapers do a great job of organizing the sales by area, which makes it really convenient for shoppers.
- Be sure to weigh the cost of the ad with the potential profit that you’ll make. It doesn’t make sense to pay $35 for an ad if everything at your sale is priced at a quarter.
- Make sure to include the address, dates, times and what you’re selling.
- Make people want to come! Give them a list of the categories of items you’ll be selling.
- Advertise online
- Use local Facebook groups and Craigslist to get the word out about your sale. If you aren’t comfortable putting your address, you can put cross streets and then make sure your signs are clear.
- Online, you aren’t limited to a certain number of words like you are in the newspaper. List specific items you have for sale, including prices and pictures of larger items. People who are searching for specific items will find your ad and come to your sale.
- Advertise your sale 5-7 days before you open, then again the day before your sale.
- Make your signs AWESOME!
- Use bright colors of poster board with black lettering.
- Make it readable. No fancy fonts or messy handwriting.
- Don’t just use a Sharpie. Paint is thicker and much easier to read. If you have stencils, a Cricut or some other way to cut letters from paper, they look great on signs.
- Make sure your signs have arrows, dates and times.
- To hang your signs, attach to large cardboard boxes (weighed down), staple to telephone poles, or attach to wooden stakes. Make sure your signs won’t curl up with the wind.
A good yard sale takes a lot of set-up. You CANNOT simply get up that morning and put your sale together, or even start the day before. The quality and results of your sale are directly proportional to the time you spend in preparation.
- The way you have your items laid out and displayed says a lot about what they are worth.
- Fold or hang clothes and arrange them by size.
- Anything that customers will want to handle or sort through should be on a table.
- Don’t sell junk. Items that are dirty or junky will lower the value of everything else around them. You’re better off having a “free” box at the curb or just throwing the junk away.
- People are much more likely to consider (and buy) items they can easily see and handle. Having items organized nicely on tables is much nicer than having to squat down on a tarp or dig through a box.
- Use card tables, patio tables, picnic tables, or folding tables that you have. Borrow tables from all of your friends.
- Create your own tables using saw horses with a door or piece of wood across them.
- Price everything!
- As an avid yard sale shopper, a sale without prices is my biggest yard sale pet peeve. People who shop at yard sales are penny pinchers. They want to know if something is a good deal before they get to the checkout.
- Price your items as you set them out and organize them. Don’t wait until the morning of the sale to price things. The first hour of your sale will be the busiest, so you probably won’t have time.
- You can do blanket pricing for things like clothes, books, and toys.
- Color code pricing also saves time. Have signs displayed around your sale that show the price for each color dot sticker.
- Start early
- Have as much of the set-up done the night before as possible. Items can be arranged on tables ahead of time and then carried carefully out to the yard in the morning.
- If you have done a good job advertising you will have early birds who want to start looking while you’re setting up. Just keep on setting up while they browse. They know they’re early and don’t expect your full attention.
- Have change. Expect that the first handful of people will come with $20 bills that they just got at the ATM. Keep track of how much “seed money” you start out with so that you will know how much your made in profits.
- Don’t take checks from people you don’t know. Garage sales are typically cash only, so don’t let anyone bully you into taking a check.
- If you use a cash box, don’t let it out of your sight. Have a person designated to sit with it at all times. As an alternative to a cash box, I like using a ziploc bag that I keep in my pocket all the time.
- Periodically take large bills into the house and put them in a safe place.
- Have a calculator. Even if you’re a confident mathematician, it’s really convenient to be able to add quickly when you have a long line of customers with their arms full of treasures.
- Sales with friends
- Differentiate everyone’s items by putting initials on price tags.
- Use a notebook to write down how much each person has earned. This can get complicated when a transaction has items from multiple sellers.
- I like to keep all the money together until after the sale, then divide up the money according to each person’s total in the notebook. Make sure the grand total in the notebook equals the cash that you have (minus the seed money) before you give each person his or her payout. If you paid for advertising, you can split the cost between the participants.
Maximize Sales and Profits
- Know ahead of time the lowest price you will take on an item (or if the price is non-negotiable). Don’t be afraid to stick to your guns.
- Post larger or higher-priced items individually on Craigslist, Facebook, etc. Then you’ll attract people who are looking for what you’re selling. You can charge a higher price since buyers are coming specifically for that item. You’re much more likely to find buyers than just hoping that someone will be in the market for your random, unique, or higher-priced items. As a bonus, you’ll have more people attend your sale and you won’t have to schedule meet-ups with potential buyers of your big ticket items.
- If you’re more interested in getting rid of stuff than making top dollar, having a half-price sale for the last hour or a “stuff a bag of clothes for $2” is a great way to move some inventory. Tell customers about the upcoming discount time throughout the day and some will come back. Advertise your end-of-sale sale online along with pictures of what’s left.
- Kids love to be involved by selling snacks or lemonade. In my experience, making homemade treats to sell while doing all the yard sale prep is just too much. Plus, people are often squeamish about buying homemade food from strangers. We’ve had success selling individually wrapped items like granola bars, popsicles, or candy. We’ve also sold garden produce like tomatoes or zucchini.
Yard sales are definitely lots of work. I’m not gonna lie about that. BUT they can be very profitable and even fun! Follow these tips and you’re sure to have success!
How about you?
- What are your best yard sale tips?
- As a buyer, what makes a yard sale or a garage sale awesome?
These are terrific tips. Thank you!
Have you ever tried TallySheet (www.tallysheetapp.com)? It is an app to help keep track of sales using your phone. I used it in our last sale and it was a huge help.
Thank you for sharing these. I am getting ready to have a big yard sale this summer, I had been planning for Memorial Day weekend, but now I am re-thinking that 😉
One thing that I recommend is to get a Square Reader for your phone if you want to take cards. I do direct sales, so I already have one and it makes a BIG difference. People are more likely to spend more and “just go ahead” and get something when they know they can use their card.
When having a sale with friends I easily keep track of what we each sale by dividing a spiral notebook page into how many are participating in the sale, each person get’s their own column and I usually do several pages and keep the name order consistent on each page. If 4, then 4 long lines, columns, down the page, write down each person’s amount while totally a customer, when done, put a line under the last amount on each person and you can start the next customer’s amounts and just keep adding to each column. If one column fills up to the bottom of the page but the other’s don’t just make a new page instead of flipping back and forth. At the end of the sale it is easy to just quickly add up each person’s column on each page to find their total. Just make sure you put the amount in the correct column so each person truly has a total of what they have sold and ALWAYS draw a line under the last amount written before going on to a new customer. I LOVE garage sales, not a huge fan of hosting one but have one coming up, first in years so lots of accumulated junk!
Have everyone wear a fanny pack with change – it’s too hard to watch the money box!
Miss Avon says
Now adays you could just use Microsoft Excel. It they probably even have apps with templates already made, ready to use, to help you keep track of owners’ inventory, sales, price, total profit etc…
Harriet Glover says
Definitely it’s the ultimate list of tips! I’m moving in month and had some issues on organizing or not a yard sale. Your tips gave me great ideas and I’ll have them on mind for my sale. Thank you for all this great information!
I love these tips. I have been trying to scale down and get rid of stuff and I’m contemplating yard sale to help! Thanks so much for the post, now I won’t be a total newb!
A yard sale is a great way to declutter and scale down. I think they’re actually really fun to do, especially if you do it with a friend.
I have a builders apron I keep my money in. When it gets too heavy I take some it inside the house and lock in my filling cabinet. Love the colored sticker tip!
That’s great Glenda! The newspaper in our town used to give out a yard sale “package” for everyone that advertised with them, which included a builder’s apron! 🙂
Mary Ann says
This is very timely as we are preparing for a yard sale this Saturday! I enjoy doing yard sales although it is a lot of work since I put a lot of planning and organizing into them. We now live in a very good yard sale location so we get a ton of traffic and customers. So far, our sales have all been very successful!
This time around, I’m borrowing quite a few tables so hopefully most small items will be up where they can easily be seen. I’ve noticed that I sell more clothing if it’s hung up so I try to hang as much as I can. Also, I price clothing LOW so it is more apt to get looked at and then purchased. (For my area, $1 for most clothing items is a good price; nicer items like fancy dresses and coats I price individually.) I don’t like to spend a lot on yard sale clothing myself, especially if I can’t try it on.
We live right beside a wooded area and have a longer driveway so we found that putting our sale a little closer to the road attracted more customers vs. having the sale right up next to the house. Also, we put up our pop-up canopy which draws attention, provides shade and we hang clothes from the canopy as well.
I agree that clothes have to be priced to move and hung up, otherwise no one takes the time to look at them. Good luck with your sale on Saturday!
I am definitely squeamish about purchasing homemade items at a rummage sale. But I would be more than willing to buy a can of pop or a bottle of water from somebody if the price was right. I like the color coded sales idea. We have several Facebook online rummage sale groups, so I really like the idea of posting pictures/prices on those sites. Then I know what I can expect. Also, sometimes you can pre-shop those sales if they post pictures on Friday night and their sale is on Saturday morning.
It is nice to get a sneak preview with people’s pictures on facebook!
I love this! We’ll be getting rid of lots of baby stuff this summer (sniff, sniff) and I’ll definitely keep this in mind. One thing we did to make our lives easier last time was color code items. We found that most of our stuff was $.50, $1, or $5, so we printed signs that read “All RED stickers, $.50, All GREEN stickers, $1” etc. It worked like a charm and saved us a lot of time.
Color-coding is a great time-saver!
Barbara Moore says
I like the idea of color code items and will use it. Thank you and thank you Stephanie for a great post.
Janet Rine says
Thank you for mentioning this. As an avid yard sale attendee. I too have a pet peeve. People want deals. So if they come up with several items. And ask for a total of $2 off, I don’t want to hear. “Today is the first day of the sale… maybe tomorrow we will be flexible”. As I explained to one woman. ‘No one will spend their extra time and money for fuel to buy an item that may or may not be there the next day for a mere $2.