yard sale
© Anthony Rosenberg | istockphoto.com

Scheduling

Picking the right weekend to hold your yard sale is key. Depending on your individual community, plan your yard sale when people will be out and about. "Consider the spring and early summer, when the weather is good and people are off work," says yard sale expert Vicki Alexander of Murray, Kentucky.

Some towns even hold city-wide yard sales. You can find out when they are scheduled by contacting your local chamber of commerce. The deal hunters will be out those days and in your very neighborhood, so take advantage.

Have a two-day yard sale to maximize your efforts. If you are going to sort, price, and set everything up, you might as well make the most of your efforts.


garage sale sign
Courtesy of REAL SIMPLE. REAL LIFE.

Get the Word Out

Place an ad in the paper to run the day before your yard sale. No need to announce it weeks in advance or even the day of. Utilize the classic “Yard Sale” signs to advertise that day.

Sign tips: Have plenty of signs, and make sure they are easy to read and sturdy enough to withstand some wind. (Poster board is not the best option.) Place them in strategic spots such as high-traffic areas and along the route to your house.

So people not familiar with your neighborhood don’t miss the turn, remember to place the signs a block or two before your intersection.


three girls helping host a garage sale
© carterdayne | istockphoto.com

Friends and Family

Recruit a few friends or family members to throw the yard sale with you. More people hosting means more items, which draw a larger crowd -- and you can all split the cost of the ad and signs.

Tip: Keep things fair by marking all items with initials or color-coded price tags so you can keep up with who has sold what.


sorting garage sale items on a table
© Photoinsel | Dreamstime.com

Sorting

Get organized by sorting all items by type. By keeping electronics, collectibles, and kitchen items separate, you establish a clear traffic pattern and help people clearly see what you have.

If there are items of higher value (jewelry and such), keep those close to where you will sit so you can keep an eye on them. If you are selling large items or furniture, make sure they are out where they can be seen from the street. They should not be tucked unattended in the back or inside the garage.


A golden lab laying beside a pair of bowls
Emily Minton Redfield

Set the Stage

Clean and dust the items you plan to sell. You by no means have to scrub them, but being dust-free just makes everything look a little better. Make sure you have plenty of lighting, especially inside the garage. Replace your bulbs with brighter ones, or bring in lamps, and be sure to mark them “not for sale” to avoid confusion.

If you have pets, keep them inside. Even the sweetest of puppies could make people uncomfortable, and you don’t want to lose any sales.

Safety tip: Scout the area for any safety issues or hazards. Stairs, cracks, and anything that could cause someone to trip should be well marked with caution signs.


clothes rack
© lisinski | istockphoto.com

Keep Everything Visible

Boxes are great for bulk items, but people want to clearly see what you are selling. Borrow or rent tables, and cover them with a flat bedsheet. Not only does this look a little better than a bare card table, but it also allows you to discreetly store empty boxes underneath. No tables? Easily turn two TV trays and a wooden board into a makeshift table.

You won’t make a ton of money on clothes at a yard sale, but it is a great way to empty out the closets. Hang items on hangers, and separate them by category (such as men’s, women’s, and children's). Two ladders and a pole can instantly become a clothing rack.

Remember, the beat-up and out-of-style items typically won’t sell well and are often best donated to a charity for the tax deduction. So only put out wearable clothing items in good condition.


price tagged vase
© tacojim | istockphoto.com

Pricing

Mark everything with a clearly written price on a sticker or piece of masking tape. Nobody wants to ask or answer, “How much do you want for this?” a hundred times.

When pricing items, know in your head the lowest price you would take, and then mark it up a little bit more. Remember, you will not get nearly what you paid for an item (plan to get more like 10% to 50%), so base prices on smart decisions -- not sentimental value.


man at garage sale
Erika Powell

Bargaining Tips

Bargaining is the fun part of yard sales, so be willing to do so. People want to feel like they are getting a deal, so even if you come down 25 cents or a nickel, they will be happier about the purchase.

Another great idea is to have a “free” or “25 cents” box filled with the items you might usually have tossed. People love to sort through things, and remember, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.


jar of change

What You’ll Need

Make sure you are fully prepared. A few days before, go to the bank and get plenty of change (at least $25 in small bills and coins), and keep it all in a cash box or secure bag.

You’ll also need to have a notebook to track sales, a roll or two of masking tape and marker for pricing, and a calculator on hand.


A garage retreat
© FrankyDeMeyer | istockphoto.com

Enjoy the Day

A few little extras can make a big difference. Save plastic grocery bags, and offer them to your costumers to hold their purchases. Also, play music, which makes both your time and your shoppers’ a bit more enjoyable.

This should go without saying, but make an effort to be nice to those who come up to your sale. Say "hello" and answer any questions they have.

Most of all, have fun and enjoy the process of clearing the clutter and making some extra mad money, too.


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