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Yard Sale Basics - How to Plan for Success

Updated on June 2, 2013

Before having a yard sale . . .

Ask yourself these questions:

Do I have enough stuff to sell?

Do I have enough time to plan for a successful sale?

Will I have the sale alone or combine with another family or two?

Will my neighborhood be having a sale the same day?

Do I want/need to advertise the sale in the local paper? What will the ad say?

Plan the date . . .

. . . about a month in advance, if you can. This allows time to gather sale items, clean and price them. Leave no area of your home uninspected. Search incessantly in every nook and cranny. Clean out hall, bathroom and bedroom closets, storage buildings, toy boxes, under all the beds, the attic and basement and kitchen cabinets. Be sure everything is sparkling and in good working order. Add a price tag or sticker to the whole lot and price everything to sell. If you are selling something that doesn't work, note it on the price tag. Start collecting empty boxes and bags for your shoppers to carry their purchases home in.

Make bold, bright signs . . .

a few days before the sale for the end of your driveway and the end(s) of your street. I always use neon poster paper and heavy black markers for printing sale information in very large, thick letters.

Attaching balloons to the signs attracts even more attention. Attach signs to your own stakes instead of using traffic signs and telephone poles. Be sure to take down signs when the sale is over.

Begin setting up your yard sale . . .

. . . either the day before and cover it in case of rain or get up extra early in the morning to get everything ready. Put out the signs and place items in a shaded area. It's not fun to shop in the hot sun. But, if it is a hot day, the kids can sell lemonade or soft drinks and cookies to make some money, too. We always let our son keep the money he earns by selling his toys and things. It's incentive to put out more stuff from that overstuffed bedroom!

Display items attractively . . .

Hang clothes on a clothesline between two trees or on a porch. Borrow tables and spread tarps on the ground to exhibit your wares. Place items you think may be popular at the front. Be sure that all items are visible. Shoppers are less likely to go through disorganized, jumbled piles of stuff. Have an extension cord handy for shoppers to try out things that require electricity. I also put batteries in items that need them. Customers want to make sure things work before purchasing.

Be willing to dicker and negotiate . . .

It is important to determine the purpose of your sale. Is it more important to "get rid of a lot of stuff" or "make a lot of money?" It is often better to price things a little lower, as items sell more easily. "Bundling" is also a great technique. If someone is looking over several items but chooses only one, offer to bundle them in a group sale for a bargain.

Pro "yard-salers" love to haggle over price to ensure that they get a good deal. If you're not willing to give way on the price of an item, write "Firm" under the price on the tag.

Enjoy the success!

After you've made tons of money and decide to close up shop for the day, pack leftovers carefully to save for your next sale or have a local charity pick up whatever's left. I've also had a lot of success in selling larger leftover items on CraigsList.

Bask in the glow of your profitable day and take the family out to eat, using sale proceeds!


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