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How to Have a Successful Yard Sale!

Updated on July 31, 2018

Are you moving? Spring cleaning? Do you just need extra cash? Whatever your reason, a yard sale is a common solution to all three questions.

Break It Down - Before Your Sale

  • Weeding takes time
  • Involve others
  • Make it attractive
  • Prep and price your items
  • Build hype
  • Stock the cash box


$ Pricing Resources $

  • The site claims to be the “blue book for users” - one suggestion - make sure you have very specific information about your product. Exact product name, model or part number. Really neat pricing charts.

  • Besides price list comparisons, this site suggestions: “To determine the value of an item not on this list, it is suggested that using 30% of the item’s original price reflects its fair market value.”

  • This site breaks things down quite specifically.

Before your Yard Sale


Start preparing for your yard sale and give yourself time. You can’t do this overnight. Weeding through items and deciding what to keep and what to sell is a process especially when you consider the whole house.

Consider not only main floor items, like kitchen,décor and bathroom items, but don't forget closets and storage. The attic, basement, shed and garage are great attractors for items that are no longer used. You want to make sure that you have enough items to make your yard sale a curiosity to those considering the stop.


It is important to contemplate the involvement of neighbors and others. The more the merrier when it comes to yard sales and people will travel for a multi-family, community or block sale. They are more motivated when they know they have greater choices and a better chance of finding treasure.


Make your yard sale attractive. Mow your lawn or clean your porch or garage if you’re using it as part of the sale. If it is possible, set up tables beforehand using cloths. If you’re using a garage, you can hang items, but make sure it’s not too crowded and that it’s well lit. Clean up, move trash cans and pick up litter. A well-cared for location shows buyers that you also took care of the items that you are selling. (I have noticed that people do no want to go into crowded dimly lit areas - so keeping items in the open as much as possible benefits sale potential.)


Prepare your items for sale. Wipe or wash them. If they are cloth, launder them. Fold, hang or display them neatly. Do as much of this before the day of the sale that you can. Price your items. Use stickers that come off easily and are big enough to write legibly on. If other information is helpful, include it - specifically noting size, brand and other relevant information can up sale potential (for example: Set of 3 Panels; JC Penney; Fits Window 50” x 84” ). If you still have the owner's manual or any accessories, fashion these securely to the item. Again, presentation is huge!

Here’s a trick: Not sure you want to part with an item – feeling 50/50? Price it high! If it sells, you’ve made good money – if it doesn't, you keep it. There's not much to lose. I brought about 3 items back into my house after my yard sale that I was unsure about. They’ll probably show up at another sale in a few years.


Advertise. Build the hype on free sites (Facebook, Craig’s List, other free local sites) about 2 weeks ahead of time. Run an ad in your local paper for the day of the sale. Buyers often clip this section and take it with them as they search for your home. The day of the sale, re-post your sale on the free sites. Talk to friends – spread the word.


The night before the sale, locate something to use as a cash box. I used an old pencil case. You will need $40 to $50 in change including lots of ones and coins. If there are multiple families participating in your sale, have a note pad ready to write down the sales in columns to keep them separate or use colored stickers – one color for each person selling and take the stickers off the item when it’s sold and place it in the notebook. Find some way to keep sales straight.

Break It Down - Day of Your Sale

  • Rise early
  • Reposition items throughout the day
  • Be friend and courteous
  • Be willing to negotiate
  • Watch your money box
  • Have extra hands around
  • Involve the children

A tiny entrepreneur sells drinks at a yard sale.
A tiny entrepreneur sells drinks at a yard sale. | Source

The Day of your Yard Sale


Rise early enough to get the sale ready at least half hour beforehand. Early birds often show up looking for deals. Post colorful, legible signs. Use balloons as location identifiers. Park your car somewhere else (in the grass, down the street) – make room for your buyers.


Move and set up tables. Make the final arrangements of your things. Move items out of corners and hidden areas. Continue to move things around as items sell. If you want something to sell, put it close to the front where individuals are walking on to your property. Go back and fold things that buyers have rummaged through. Continue to move things around, removing tables as items sell and repositioning the things you’d like to see sell.

I moved a hose basket from the back of my garage to the front of my driveway – it sold immediately.


Be friendly and courteous. Talk to your customers. Discuss items in which they show interest. Be willing to haggle and negotiate. Even if they don’t buy, thank them for stopping. These are all common courtesies that make your sale a pleasant experience.


Watch your money box! I’m sorry to say that theft is ever rampant in our country and all you need to do is take your eyes off something for minute and it could be gone. Keep your money box close by you at all times making sure either you or another yard sale participant you trust is watching it.


It's a good idea to have someone extra around in case you have to use the bathroom or if someone needs help carrying something. My teenage daughter got a workout the day of our sale carrying items to cars for older people and those with little children.


Here’s a trick: Involve your children – teens can sell their own items and reap the reward. Younger children can too, but who doesn't want a cool drink while shopping? One young entrepreneur put up a sign that said, “Help me get to Disney World” - his cooler of cold pop and his pitcher of lemonade were quite popular the day of the sale.

Break It Down - After Your Sale

  • Sort and clean up unsold items immediately
  • Remove all posted signs
  • Relax and count your $$

Wrapping up your Yard Sale


When your sale is over, place your money in a safe location and it’s time to clean up. Box up your items, sorting them as “keep” and “donate”. Immediately put them either in storage or in your car for delivery to your favorite place of donation. Part of the benefit of a yard sale is cleaning up and weeding out – take this process right to the very end. Nothing feels better than to see that garage, attic or basement clean and to have some money in your pocket to boot.

Here’s a trick: Make sure you hold onto some large boxes to box up items that don’t sell.


Be considerate as well and remove all signs and balloons that you may have posted around the neighborhood.


Count your money and divvy it up accordingly.

Sit back and drink a glass of lemonade and consider your sale a job well done.

How Much Have You Made?

What's the most you've made on a yard sale?

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