#1 – Hide anything you don’t intend to sell.
First and foremost, anything you do not want to sell should be moved as far away from the yard sale area as possible.
Or, cover those items with blankets and tarps.
I can’t tell you how many times people have wanted to buy items that were simply being stored in our garage.
These are just a few of the strange things that people have wanted to buy at my yard sales:
- “I see a garden hose over there in the corner, are you selling that?”
- “Is that bike for sale?”
- “The footstool that you’re using to display items… is that for sale, too?”
- “What about the magazine racks that are holding all those magazines… are you selling those?”
#2 – Find unique “props” for displaying your items.
Take a walk through your home and your garage — even glance through your attic and basement storage spaces — looking for items that have flat surfaces or unique hanging areas that would provide unique display spaces for your yard sale items.
Ladders work wonders as a clothing display rack (if you’re selling any clothing items). Use the ladder steps themselves as tiered racks to put your hangers.
What I did: I set an old shower curtain rod across the top portion of the ladder (braced between the planks of a standard A-frame wooden ladder). While the pole would remain fairly secure on its own, I used blue painter’s tape to secure it in place. Plus, by evenly distributing clothes on both sides of the pole — on either side of the ladder itself — your setup will be even more balanced and secure.
If your vehicle will be parked in the garage throughout your yard sale, use it to your advantage… Post signs on it, dangle items from it (like a garden hose),
Card tables, TV trays, even upside down cardboard boxes (sturdy ones) and crates work wonders as a means for displaying your items for sale at a garage sale.
Similarly, blankets (of various sizes), rugs, sleeping bags, sheets, old bedspreads, even beach towels can be used to display items out on the lawn. My favorites are camping tarps and old shower curtains. These items allow you to place items of a similar “theme” together, and they give a nice backdrop for your yard sale items. (Items strewn out on the lawn don’t capture one’s attention very easily.)
Use your porch and nearby steps to place items at various levels. This makes it easier for people to see these when they’re just glancing around.
Tip: You want to get things up off the ground as much as possible. Card tables and upside down boxes are generally better than blankets and ground-level displays.
#3 – Morning dew & afternoon sun can wreak havoc.
Since the grass is usually wet from dew in the morning, I recommend using a double layer of blankets on the grass, rather than a single layer.
You’d be surprised how quickly the water seeps through a single blanket or bed sheet — even when the grass doesn’t appear to be that wet!
Wet spots not only make your displays look tacky to the early morning visitors, but they could also damage certain items that should never come in contact with moisture (books, papers, magazines, cardboard, and some electronics).
On the flip-side… in the afternoon the sun’s rays could make some of your items on display become very hot to the touch. And if people can’t pick up an item to examine it, then they’re not going to buy it.
Just the same, some items (candles, blow-up plastic items like air beds & pool floats) could even melt! Yep, it happened to me.
This is a little weird, but I saw it happen: it was a hot sunny day and the seller was trying to sell a make-up mirror – the reflection of the mirror caused a nearby cardboard box to catch on fire! — The Yard Sale Queen
So, in the afternoon, be sure to examine any items that have been setting out in the sun. You may need to move fragile items into shadier areas, underneath tables, or maybe into the garage to permanently cool down.
#4 – Group items by “theme” to increase sales.
I’ve found one thing that seems to work really well is to include items of the same “theme” on each table or blanket space.
How much time would you spend at Wal-Mart shopping for clothes if you had to go through every item to find the size you need? — J.E. Davidson
By displaying similar items together, if someone’s looking at a cell phone on your “high-tech gadgets” table, then chances are they might also be attracted to the other computer stuff you’ve got on that table, as well. You could get a double sale out of this one — all because an old cell phone first caught their attention.
For example, at my yard sale, I had the following areas (or themes):
|Automobile stuff||Scrapbooking stuff|
|Rubber stamp stuff||Crosstitch & embroidery stuff|
|Collectibles||Baby & kids stuff|
|New mom stuff||Books & magazines|
|Religious stuff||Household stuff|
|Clothing items||Sports & athletic stuff|
|Computer stuff||Pet-related stuff|
|Health & beauty stuff|
#5 – Have a yard sale, not a garage sale.
In some areas people call them ‘tag’ sales, but here in California we mostly call them garage sales. Weird, though, most are held in driveways and not in an actual garage. In addition to typical garage sales we also have ‘rummage’ sales which are generally put on by a local church or some other non-profit group. — Donna Hentsch
Whether you call it a garage sale or a yard sale doesn’t really matter. What is important is that you treat it like a yard sale and put as much stuff outside of your garage as possible. This will not only help to attract attention, but people are usually hesitant to enter the “personal space” of someone they don’t know — even when invited.
Unless someone’s a seasoned yard sale shopper, it can be intimidating to march right into someone’s enclosed garage — especially if there’s no one else doing it at the moment.
This is primarily why “garage sales” tend to be less profitable than “yard sales”.
It’s a numbers game…
The more people who a) see your sale, then b) choose to slow down when driving by your sale, and c) actually get out of the car to have a look around your sale… the higher your profits will be.
Tip: Try to spread all of your items out so that people don’t feel crowded as they browse.
#6 – Out of sight, out of mind.
Regardless of how you choose to display your items for sale, make sure that everything is easily within reach and easily within view. If a person can’t see it on first glance, chances are, it won’t ever be sold.
So if there’s anything that’s hidden from view, move it! If that means creating a whole new space for displaying this and/or other items, then by all means, do it. Yard sale items don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. You get one shot — so make it count.
Tip: With books & magazines, try fanning them out neatly across the front of a table, rather than stacking them one on top of the other.
Just remember, people aren’t as likely to dig through or step over stuff to get to an item that looks interesting. Nor will they look up high or down low. That’s why the majority of your yard sale items should be at one consistent level, or at least be within eyesight as someone scans all of your items from the center point of your driveway.
Tip: If you are placing items on the lawn, make sure that you create an “aisle” or a pathway between your items. It’s best if people can walk around and behind each item, because you never know at which angle an item will catch someone’s eye. Besides, items on the lawn are harder to reach, unless you create pathways so people can get closer to items from all sides.
The more items that you place up close to the street, the more likely you will entice more people to stop at your sale. (And the larger the items, the better.) When people have to get out of their car to see the type of items you’re selling, about half of them will just skip it and drive on. So instead, make it easy for them by placing all your best stuff up close to the road, if possible.
Some sellers prefer to be stationed at the end of their merchandise, closest to the street. It prevents people from “forgetting” to pay for an item and they can also easily answer someone who drives by and asks “do you have any LP’s?” — The Yard Sale Queen
Continue reading my 14-part series:
I like to help people find unique ways to do things in order to save time & money — so I write about “outside the box” ideas that most wouldn’t think of. As a lifelong dog owner, I often share my best tips for living with and training dogs. I worked in Higher Ed over 10 years before switching gears to pursue activities that I’m truly passionate about. I’ve worked at a vet, in a photo lab, and at a zoo — to name a few. I enjoy the outdoors via bicycle, motorcycle, Jeep, or RV. You can always find me at the corner of Good News & Fun Times as publisher of The Fun Times Guide (32 fun & helpful websites).