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How to Successfully Hold a Yard Sale

Updated on May 27, 2016

Planning Makes for a Profitable Sale

Having a yard sale is a lot like throwing a party - the more planning and work you can do ahead the better.

Location is the first consideration. If you live on a back road in the middle of nowhere (like we do) you may want to consider asking a friend or relative who lives in a more densely populated area to join you and have it at their house.

One year I passed out fliers to my neighbors letting them know the weekend I was having a yard sale and suggested they have one then as well. More people will flock to and area that has several going on at the same time.

Find a space or a 'staging area' (I know it may be difficult) to put all of your 'stuff' for sale so you can clean it up and price it ahead of time. I've gone to garage sales where nothing was priced and the person having the sale was on their cell phone and seemed too busy to even tell me what she wanted for stuff - I just left and some of the items I would have paid pretty good money for.

Organize items by similarities. Group your kitchen items, toys, knickknacks, books together. Try to beg or borrow as many tables as you can. I've seen boxes of books sitting under a sale table or on the driveway and I'm just too lazy to crawl around under tables and on the ground to go through boxes.

Have a "FREE" box. I usually put small toys (like all the fast food toys that were never opened) or kids books, in a Free box. This was good for morale and also kept little kids busy while Mom or Grandma shopped.

Price items reasonably. Hardcover books should not be more than a dollar, paperbacks fifty cents. Remember this is a yard sale and second hand books are easy to come by. If you have gardening, woodworking, craft, Martha Stewart magazines sell them for a dollar.. The info in them is timeless and people are willing to pay for them since they can be five dollars new! Forget the People or Soap Opera magazines as they're fairly useless a few days after they're published.

Encourage your kids to sell lemonade and/or cookies at the sale. Garage 'sailing' is thirsty work and I was often thrilled to be able to buy drinks or snacks from enterprising kids. Let your kids sell some of their own items, this is a great way for them to learn all kids of things.

Pen up the pooch! I love dogs, but there are many folks who are afraid of them or nervous about having them jumping on them, etc. Even on a tether, a barking dog will drive folks away. Also, think of the poor pups. Many pups feel it's their job to protect you from everyone .. so maybe setting them up for a play date at a friend's home.

Air your items out or wash them. Nothing is more of a turnoff than musty smelling clothing or dirty items.

Have plenty of small bills and change and wear it on a fanny pack or keep it in your pocket. NOT in a cash-box. It's sad, but there are creeps who travel in twos and threes and try to distract the seller and take off with the money or small valuable items. Keep jewelry and such on a table next to where you'll be sitting.

Have your cell phone and water bottle handy. But try not to yak on the phone when you have customers. To me that's very rude and you may lose sales.

Prepare for rain. If your sale is in your yard, have several inexpensive tarps or plastic shower curtain liners or even plastic table cloths and some rocks or weights so you can cover everything up in case of an unexpected rain shower.

Antique dealers will often show up early and can be quite pushy. My daughter and I had a garage sale and stated that it started at 8:30 a.m. We did this to ensure the school buses and kids would be out of the way and out of danger. We had several early-birds show up at 7 a.m.! We didn't up the actual signs and address up until about 8:00, so these people were a bit annoyed. We felt the kids' safety was more important.

Unless a person offers a ridiculously low amount for an item, be willing to haggle. Chances are only one person will be looking for a glass lid to a two-quart baking dish , so sell it!

May or September are good times for garage sale as the kids are in school and the Mom's are more likely to be able to shop then. Also, the weather is less beastly hot then.

Make room for shoppers to park. Try to move your vehicles to the street or borrow a neighbor's driveway during the day.

Place signs at least 500 ft from your sale, especially if you live on a busy street. Use bright yellow or hot pink poster board and just write "YARD SALE!" with the house number in LARGE BOLD print. Folks unfamiliar with your neighborhood will find you with that info. A cluttered sign with a lot of small print is impossible to read while driving. Make sevearl signs and use the same color poster board and lettering, especially if several are going on in your area at the same time.

Good luck!


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