How to Have a Great Yard Sale
Run your own successful sale without going crazy!
Yard (garage or tag) sales are an excellent way to make some extra cash while clearing out the clutter. People hire me to run their sales professionally, but it is really easy to do it yourself. Don't drive yourself crazy! Follow these guidelines and get ready to rake in the cash!
What to sell – You can sell just about anything at a yard sale, from old to new. Clothes, furniture, a box of plastic wrap you didn’t like, or grandma’s old hats. Start preparing for your sale by having a box, or section of your garage, set aside for yard sale stuff. As you come across items, just put it in the designated area and let it build up.
Pricing – Garage sales are always less stressful if you have price tags on everything in advance. You will make more sales if people know what you want than if they have to ask. Buy a package of sticker tags and either price as you go, or do it the night before. If you are unsure about prices, think about other sales you have been to, or look up values on eBay or other auction sites. If you use eBay, price about 20% lower than what an item would sell there.
Volume – People are more likely to stop at a tag sale that has a lot of stuff and a good variety. If you don’t have a lot, or only have, say, baby equipment, ask your neighbors to join you, or offer to let your friends bring over stuff while you sell it for them. Just use different color tags for different people. Removing the tags and placing them on a sheet of paper is the easiest way to maintain tallies.
Advertising – Newspaper advertising has become way too expensive. It is almost not worth paying your local newspaper to advertise unless they have special deals for garage sales. If you want free advertising, I have found that Craigslist is the best way to advertise. You can get just as much traffic, if not more, advertising only there. Place the ad one or two days prior to the sale after you have checked the weather report. Mention what types of items you have, your address, and what time and days the sale will run. If you do not want to post your address, then just tell people to follow the signs from “the intersection of Smith and Main”, or “I-95 exit 12”. WARNING: Unless you want a lot of people showing up 2 hours prior to your sale, I recommend you include the following phrase: NO EARLY BIRDS please. I will not be ready before 9:00 am so please give me the time I need to prepare to open on time.
When? – If you are going to have a sale, Saturday is the best day. If you want to hold it two days, follow this advice. If you have a lot of old stuff, like antiques and collectibles, consider holding it Friday and Saturday. The dealers will come on Friday, and families will come on Saturday. If you choose to hold it Saturday and Sunday, you can save yourself the trouble of starting early on Sunday. There are few tag salers who are out on Sundays earlier than 12:00. As for Saturdays, people usually start anytime between 8:00 am and 10:00 am, and end around 3:00 pm or 4:00 pm.
Signs – KEEP IT SIMPLE. Avoid putting your address and other detailed info on your signs. Remember, people are driving and won't be able to read more than 2-3 words. The sign shown above is the kind that works best. Pink, yes PINK poster board with GARAGE SALE (or Yard Sale or Tag Sale) in huge black letters with just an arrow and the time. They will not fail. Just make sure you make enough signs for a complete path to your house from the most prominent intersection or freeway exit. Don't forget a big "SALE HERE" sign to put in your yard, too.
Extras – Make a little extra money selling water bottles for $1 or other seasonally appropriate goodies. Buying cases of water and soda is relatively cheap and, believe me, people will buy them for $1.
Parking – If you are in a place where parking is difficult, use one of your pink signs to show people where to park.
Money – I recommend pricing stuff in whole numbers so you don’t have to deal with coins. If you must, never price lower than a quarter. The day before your sale, get a roll of quarters, and no less than twenty $1s, three $5s, and two $10s for change. You may want to have more on hand. (I recommend using an apron with pockets for the sale for your money and price tags.) WHAT IF YOU RUN OUT OF CHANGE or someone wants to write a check? I highly recommend not taking personal checks. Tell people that you will hold the items they want for 20 minutes while they run to the ATM or get change. If they don’t come back in that time, put the stuff back out.
Day of Sale – Open on time if the sale is in your garage. Spill things out into the driveway to get attention. If your sale is on your yard and you are out early setting up, don’t feel badly for turning early birds away if you want to. Despite their many excuses, they will be back.
Negotiation – I generally keep my prices firm for the first half, or day, of the sale, unless someone buys a lot and they ask for a small break. If people try to talk you down, consider offers, but tell them exactly when you will be reducing the prices. They will come back. When the time comes, pull the items you don’t want to sell too low and isolate them from the discounted or half-off items.
End of the Sale – When you are done with a sale, save a few choice items you want to save for next sale, give to friends or to charity. The rest, you can just holler FREE at the end of the sale, or put them on your curb with a big pink FREE sign. Save yourself the hauling and try this. It works and is a great way to recycle stuff in your community without going to the dump.
1) NEVER call a yard sale an estate sale. Unless people can come through the entire house, it is NOT an estate sale. People travel considerable distances to go to estate sales, and if all they see is a yard sale, they will be angry, and may even take down your signs.
2) If you are holding your sale in your garage, be sure to put RAIN OR SHINE in your ad. Otherwise, people will assume you won't be open. If there is a chance of rain and you will be outside, post a "rain date" in your ad (usually the following weekend).
3) Periodically, take the majority of your money inside your house. A big wad is easy to lose. You never need more than $20 worth of change in your pocket.
3) After your sale is over, immediately remove the listing from Craigslist. Also remember to retrieve all your signs. You can save them for next time.
4) If you are using a table you want to keep to display your free stuff, tape a prominent TABLE NOT FREE sign on it.
5) If you are not in a high-traffic area, consider posting on Freecycle that you have free stuff on your curb. It works great!
Best advice - If you have a lot of family heirlooms or art, do consult a professional, like me, to help you evaluate your treasures. You want to make sure that you don't short-change yourself and sell valuable items at a yard sale for far less than they are worth.