The past few years, prior to moving back to Tennessee, we spent in Kansas. We donated everything we didn’t want in those 3 years to Goodwill or the Salvation Army, which is great by the way, don’t get me wrong.
However, before moving to Kansas we used to have almost yearly yard sales with my parents. They live out in the country about 5 minutes off of the main road and you would think yard sales wouldn’t do great. Yet, they do AWESOME.
The key, lots of planning beforehand. If you are looking to do a yard sale continue reading to find out how to have a successful yard sale. Even if you aren’t on the main road or heavy traffic area.
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Right before we moved out of state we had decluttered and cleared out majorly. It is crazy how much stuff you can accumulate over the years. At the end of 2 days, we had made well over $1,500. Now we are getting ready to plan another yard sale (we typically do large one every couple years). Since I was already putting forth the effort to plan our yard sale I thought I would share a few of my favorite tips and tricks with you.
Step 1: Prepping for the big sale!
The worst thing to do is wake up the day before and say “I want to have a yard sale tomorrow.” There is so much more to getting a yard sale together, one day isn’t going to cut it. Sure you might throw a few things outside and make a few bucks but do you want to spend your valuable time for $50 dollars? I know I don’t.
Your first step is to figure out the weekend you want to have your yard sale. I know just about everyone else will tell you don’t throw your yard sale on a holiday weekend. Granted you may miss out on a few people but let me tell you if it’s the only weekend you have available, plan that bad boy and make it happen. In our neck of the woods, holidays don’t stop anyone from getting out and finding a good bargain. We almost always have our yard sale on Memorial Day weekend.
What I think is even more important than a holiday weekend is money. People need money to buy your stuff. Which means a good weekend to plan around is payday. Ask your family and friends if they want to have a joint sale. I think multi-family yard sales tend to be more popular. This is why we only do yard sales every couple of years. The more product you offer the more likely you will get people off the street and into your yard sale. If you can get them out of the car you are already winning.
NOTE: Check beforehand to see if your city or county requires yard sale permits. If you live in an HOA, make sure you’re allowed to have a yard sale; some HOAs prohibit them.
Gather Your Items:
This is why starting well in advance is a must. You don’t want to feel extremely overwhelmed trying to find everything you want to sale in the last week. Start early and go through rooms one at a time. Pick a designated spot in your home, garage, etc to store all of your wares. My advice at this point is to also go ahead and price your items. Pricing items can take a lot of work. I have done the method of pricing as we are placing it on the tables and let me just say… I don’t recommend it. So much less stressful to have everything priced so it can just be organized the morning of the sale. See more about my advice on pricing below.
I also recommend at this part in the process to clean any items that need to be cleaned. I know it’s easy to say I don’t want to mess with cleaning things I am going to sale anyways but clean items will sell better. Think about it! What do you do when you see dirty items at yard sales. I pass them over, which means others will do the same.
Before you can think about pricing you need to make sure you are ready to let the item go. You can’t price your stuff based on your sentimental value. No one else gives a hoot if it belonged to your grandmother and she gave it to you and yadda yadda. It may be harsh but its the truth. If you still hold value to something in those regards then maybe it’s not the time to let it go.
This is a yard sale and people are wanting a deal, a good deal at that. Although that doesn’t mean you have to just give your stuff away. There will be some people who will try to talk you down on everything. If you know that it’s a good deal stick to your pricing, especially if its day 1. You can always start day 2 out cheaper. I will be honest, I have often priced higher than I am willing to go just so I can make a deal and negotiate. People want to negotiate, let them.
Another big thing with pricing for me is the price tags. I strongly dislike going to yard sales that have no price tags. They want you to ask for the price and then come back with well what would you give me. I don’t play that game. Just label your items!!! It wastes your time as the seller and the buyers time having to ask a price every 10 seconds. I like to get the little neon dot stickers for pricing. They are bright and you can easily read them. If you are having a multi-family sale be sure to also add your initials so you can divide your earnings at the end of the day. Some people will be like, “that’s her item you will have to check out with her.” Don’t be that person, just put all the money into one pot and figure out the rest later.
For larger items, I will often put the price on a piece of copy paper. Also going along with pricing is having change for your buyers. Prior to the yard sale go to the bank and get plenty of change to start your day with. I guarantee you if you don’t the first person will ask you to break a $100. YEP! 0.o …. I like to start out with lots of ones and quarters.
We always advertise in the local newspapers. If you live in a big city advertising in a big local paper maybe too pricey so here are more great ways I like to advertise. Craigslist is a good way to advertise but I also find that lots of people are creating local Facebook sale groups. If you are a member of one or a few of these groups advertise in there assuming they allow it. If you aren’t a member of any search for some that you can advertise in.
You will also want to focus on your signage. This is how people are going to find you and very important when you live off the beaten path. It also will help attract those people who didn’t see your other advertisement but just happen to be driving by your area. I like to use neon poster boards, specifically bright yellow or green. These colors attract your attention. Either way, be consistent and don’t use random different colors, choose one.
A little brown colored cardboard does nothing for me. I also can’t read 2-inch writing driving by in a vehicle. Your letters need to be large and in charge. The yard sale part needs to be like 10-12 inches at least and then the rest can be 5-6 inches in sizing. Use a sharpie and make your letter bold but don’t try to be cute and do crazy fonts. An actual address is optional. I prefer to have signs along the way. We cut up a few pieces of wood and staple our poster board on these. Just remember to place them only where you are allowed and to pick them up once your sale is over.
Step 2: The big day!
Organize Your Sale:
Think like a large chain store and group like items together. If you have a bunch of women’s clothes and shoes then be sure you place those together. Have a “man” section for all the tools and various outdoor items. I know for myself I dislike going through clothes just thrown on a table. We have had so many yard sales that we have constructed a few specific things for this but you can think outside of the box and use a garage door, tie off a clothesline to a tree, etc. You will also want to organize your clothing by type and gender.
Making it convenient for your shoppers is key. If you have lots of clothes to sell I recommend selling them in groups. “All you can fit in a bag for so much or 5 pieces for $2.” I don’t recommend selling high-value small items at yard sales, however, if you choose to be sure you are leery about where they are placed so that you can watch them. It’s true, not all yard sale shoppers are honest people.
Displaying Your Items:
If you have large items for sale then bring it out into the driveway where it can be easily seen. I have been a drive by shopper and if I don’t see anything of interest then I just keep on going. You need to bring out those interesting pieces that say “I have something you want.” If you are going to sell electronics make sure you have a spot to test them available. If it doesn’t work, be honest. Some people will still buy it for parts. You could also use it to bargain. My dad actually does this… “If you buy this… I’ll throw this in for free”… The free thing probably isn’t worth much value but that person feels like they are getting a deal.
Make everything look inviting! I think having tables are very important to a yard sale. I don’t want to bend over and look at everything in the grass and neither will your customers. If you don’t have any to use ask some friends. You can also make tables from sawhorses and pieces of wood. Think outside of the box for your tables, anything is better than tarps in the grass.
If you have some things you don’t think will sell or you were just going to toss away anyways think about saving it for your free pile. Make your free pile known from the street to, they can drag people in who might ultimately purchase something. You would be surprised what people are willing to take off your hands for free.
Step 3: After the sale!
Unless you really rocked your sale then you are likely to have some items left over. When I do a yard sale my intentions are to never bring anything back into our home. Anything that isn’t sold gets loaded and taken off to the thrift store. Preferably that same day but if not then the next day. You can also call and some places will come pick up the items for you. If you plan to have another yard sale next year you might want to keep some of your items but I would only suggest that if you have somewhere very specific in your home to store them.
More things to note!!!
- Don’t do it alone!! Trying to answer questions and check someone out at the same time is chaotic. Make sure you have a buddy or 2 to help on the day of the yard sale.
- Create some ambiance… I like to play a little background music, nothing crazy loud or hardcore. Just keep it kid friendly and just loud enough to enjoy.
- If you are selling on a hot day then think about selling some bottled water. You don’t have to price to make a profit but just to have something to entice your customers to stay and browse.
- Price things to make it easy on you and them. I never go below .25 and if I have items I don’t think are worth that much I either toss it into the free pile or bag like items together and price as a set.
- You may have the friendliest pets in the world but some people don’t like dogs, cats, etc or are allergic to them. Make sure you have a safe spot for them to be during your yard sale.
- Go through the pockets of your items, you never know when you could find an extra $20 shoved in an old purse or coat.
- As things are sold throughout the day rearrange and tidy up your items for sale. If you had to place some items on the ground move them to the tables.
- Do not leave your money laying around wear a fanny pack (see they are good for something) or apron so you always have the money on you. This is especially true if you are running a yard sale by yourself.
- Don’t accept checks unless you are willing to take the risk of the check bouncing.
- Have newspaper and plastic bags on hand for checkout.
That is all there is to it, 3 easy (although time-consuming and exhausting) steps to creating a successful yard sale. If you have any tips I didn’t mention feel free to comment below and let me know. I always love a good tip. Just remember yard sales can be a lot of work but can be very profitable and lots of fun too.