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How To Hold a Yard Sale... Or Maybe How Not To

Updated on May 15, 2010
Photo courtesy of hortongrou and
Photo courtesy of hortongrou and

We’re an hour into the yard sale and a few of things are becoming evident. I know people say they make a fortune at yard sales, and others swear by going to them to find bargains and sometimes even valuable items.  But yard sales don’t seem to work for me.

Personality Mismatch?

Yard sales and I don’t seem to match very well.  I don’t do yard sales often, mostly because they seem to be more work than they’re worth.  The ones I’ve done alone or with my mom have netted me a measly $20… or less.  On the other hand, the ones I’ve done with friends have in well over $100, which leads me to believe that the problem is me.

Make the Date

Maybe one of the reasons the problem is me is the choice of dates for my yard sales. I’m not foolish enough to hold a yard sale on a weekday (though Fridays seem to be popular), but holding a yard sale on a beautiful clear day in May in Florida in a seaside town probably isn’t a good idea either. Bottom line: would you rather be driving around to yard sales, or at the beach?

My Junk Is...

Maybe another factor is what I sell.  The one yard sale that did the best – around $350 – was with a friend and it was a foreclosed house (with the bank’s okay).  We basically opened the doors, the backyard gate and the garage and advertised it as “Everything must go, including the house.”  The house didn’t sell that day, but we did sell a piano, beds, knick knacks and all kinds of tools and car parts that were in the garage and shed.  Other times I’ve tried to sell whatever I don’t want or need anymore – books, clothes, knick knacks, whatever – to no avail.  And there are times when I’ve sold silly candleholders, mismatched forks, old cassettes and posters.  Today I’ve got a few chairs, some tools, a crib and other odds and ends that have been laying around in the garage.  Two people have come, and they both bought so that’s goo, but more people would obviously mean more sales.

Need More Yard Sale Signs?

Which leads me to #4 – signs, signs, signs.  My ex-sister-in-law and I set up our yard sale at their house because they lived in a great corner location.  We made a bunch of signs but just started with one out front.  We had a little business but when the guys went out to put the rest of the signs up – wow!  She and I knew immediately when those signs went up.  We were crazy with people in the yard looking at things.

Nick and I went out to the end of our street just now to check on our sign and found the wind had knocked it down.  Now we have business again, sort of.  I guess it’s not too bad to make 3 sales off of 3 customers.  So, signs are important, especially when they remain upright.  And the more the better, if there are major roads around to drive traffic in to your yard sale.

Location, location, location!

Even in yard sales, location is important. I lived, until last year, in a smaller town located inland – in other words, away from the beach and water. Yard sales seem to be a way of life for residents there. In part that’s due to the economy, not just now but in general. Unemployment has always been higher there because it’s more rural, so people go to yard sale to pick up what they need at bargain prices. Here in the Tampa area, literally walking distance from the Gulf of Mexico, people don’t seem to go yard-saling as much. I understand not wanting to buy someone else’s hand-offs – I don’t do yard sales much myself, actually never. There are just other things to do here, and most people pop over to Walmart, Target or any of the many thrift stores for what they need.

And On to Tomorrow...

It’s 11:15 now. From experience there won’t be much more activity today. Hardcore yard-salers head out early in the morning to find the best stuff. I’m not much for “staying open” past 2:00 or 3:00, unless business is good. Tomorrow’s another beautiful day, and I have more signs to put up tonight when the sun goes down, ready to announce the yard sale to those early birds when the sun comes up.


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