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?
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