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In October (in Middle Tennessee), I had my most successful yard sale ever.
I made $1,013.00 in just under 5 hours.
Here’s how I did it… 101 yard sale tips you can use to make more money at your own sale!
A Little About My Yard Sale…
In case you’re wondering, my yard sale was:
- A single-family yard sale (that was timed to coincide with a “neighborhood yard sale” that was taking place on the same day)
- A 1-day, 5-hour yard sale that took place in the driveway at my house (it was on a Saturday from 8AM-1PM)
- My 5th “major” yard sale (I usually wait 5 years between each “big” yard sale – so I have a lot of great stuff)
- My most successful yard sale… ever! (Attendees were even commenting about how it was a great yard sale and everything was organized so nice.)
See how much money people are making from yard sales, on average.
Even though my yard sale took place at the same time as our community-wide yard sale (and that came with some free advertising), I still did a lot of advertising on my own.
This is the wording I used for my yard sale advertisement (of course, the address and date were also included):
Huge Neighborhood Yard Sale!
Lawn & garden equipment, Harley-Davidson motorcycle gear, Automotive, Electronics & gadgets, Computer equipment & software, Sports memorabilia, Camping gear, NEW Photography equipment, Household items & Home decor, Dog stuff, Books, DVD movies, Music CDs, NEW Halloween costumes, NEW Winter coats, Oreck vacuum, Sony TV & DVD players, Stereo equipment, and LOTS of items priced $1 or less!
And now for a list of all my favorite yard sale tips, which includes all of the little things I did to make this yard sale so successful…
101 Of My Very Best Yard Sale Tips
Prior to this yard sale, the first thing I did was review all the tips I’ve compiled through the years and shared with others who want to make the most money at their yard sale.
Like everyone else, I learn from my own mistakes and past experiences, as well as the mistakes and successes of others.
This is the cheat sheet that I’ve compiled. The goal is to double-check it prior to each and every garage sale…
- Have your yard sale right after the 15th of the month. Rent’s not due, but a lot of people have just gotten paychecks! Or on the first Saturday of the month. People who get paid monthly will have more cash to spend then.
- While you should start preparing for your yard sale early (weeks, if not months ahead of time — so you’re not stressed and you have plenty of time to “find” things to sell), you may want to pick your actual date based on the weather forecast for an upcoming weekend. Here’s the fastest way to tell if it’s going to rain or not.
- The ideal time for a yard sale is 8AM – 1PM. The busiest time for a yard sale is 8AM – 11AM. (That’s when most of the money is made.)
- Don’t park your own car(s) in the the driveway. Your car(s) should be inside the garage or parked on the street — which has the added bonus of making your yard sale look popular and will encourage others to stop.
- Use tables of all shapes and sizes — even TV trays and card tables as your primary display spaces. Turn plastic storage crates upside down and use them as tables too. You can even turn sturdy cardboard boxes upside down and use them as tables! We took 2 sawhorses and placed a long piece of plywood that we had leftover on top of them to create a makeshift table. Don’t overlook the space underneath tables to display some items as well — particularly large items that are self-explanatory, not small things that people need to browse through.
- Don’t host a yard sale solo. You need at least one other adult (or teenager) to be present throughout the entire sale with you. Why? You will undoubtedly be called aside to answer questions, make change, remove an item that is broken, rearrange items for sale as the day goes on, etc. With 2 sets of eyes on things, you’re less likely to be taken advantage of, and you’re more likely to be able to address your customers’ needs.
- Organize everything you’re selling into meaningful groups/ categories — just like they do in stores.
- If you have the time, label each category / display area with a large sign so people can quickly find the things they’re most interested in. Remember, first impressions are everything… even at garage sales!
- Use the FREE Google Drive (formerly known as Google Docs) to make signs for your tables and display areas. Here’s how: Google Drive -> Create New -> Presentation -> Theme: Simple Light (it’s the default) -> Layout: Title Slide (it’s the default as well) -> Insert Shape: Shapes -> Frame (for a framed border around the words). Then, type 1 line of text, or 2 lines, and print! Place printed page in a see-thru page protector to give your ‘sign’ some weight and durability in case it’s damp, rainy, or windy outside.
- Whenever possible, cover tables with sheets, towels, tablecloths, or runners. It adds a bit of class to your garage sale. Remember, it’s all about that first impression!
- Put a price tag on every single thing you put out to sell — no matter how small. Few people are willing to make an offer before they know approximately how much you’re hoping to get for an item. Pricing every individual item also helps to avoid the slew of questions all day: “How much is this?” Plus, no one can say, “I got it from the 50-cent table” when really they got it from the $1 table — or something similar. There should never be a question as to how much an item costs. This makes it easier for both the buyer and the seller.
- It took me 2 full days to price all of the items for our yard sale — so prepare yourself. Take your time and do it right. This is how I did it: Open one tab in your computer browser for eBay (to see what USED prices are for an item) and one tab for Amazon (to see what NEW prices are for an item). Use these as very general ballpark guidelines when determining your prices. I usually set yard sale prices at 50-75% off what I find there. Example: If the item I’m selling is brand new, then I’ll take 50-75% off the Amazon price. If the item I’m selling is used, then I’ll take 50-75% off the eBay price. (Remember, this is a yard sale where people only buy bargains. If you want the actual prices found on Amazon and eBay, then sell your items there instead.)
- For larger, more valuable items, I look up what it would cost to buy this item new right now, then I cut that price in half to get my starting point. Finally, I lower it another 10-25% — so that’s up to 75% off retail price for “newer” items.
- For smaller, less valuable items, I simply ask what I would pay for this item at a garage sale myself. That price is usually VERY low — closer to 10% of the item’s retail price — especially for “older” items.
- A common yard sale pricing rule of thumb is: “You’ll make on average 10 cents for every 1 dollar you spent on each item.”
- Never price items less than 25 cents. If it’s worth less than a quarter, you’ll attract more attention by giving away those items for FREE. A “free” table always gets attention — especially if people can actually see the word FREE from the street!
- Dealing with coins isn’t fun (or easy) at a garage sale. To simplify the amount of cash you need to have on hand to make change, you should make 25 cents the lowest denomination you work with (example: $1.25) . That way you don’t have to worry about nickels, dimes, and pennies!
- Advertise your yard sale lots of different places online. The more places you list your sale, the more shoppers you’ll have! Be sure to let your Facebook friends know too.
- Use neon-colored posterboard for your yard sale signs. Neon green is best. I like hot pink too.
- If you happen to live in a gated community, make sure your yard sale ad (and signs posted at intersections) say “Upscale Yard Sale”. You’ll get a lot more attention!
- If you’re moving, be sure to advertise your yard sale as a moving sale. People expect to find more items and more quality items at moving sales — because people typically sell items that are too cumbersome to move.
- Make sure that your yard sale signs are large (as big as realtors’ For Sale signs & candidates’ Election signs) and able to withstand wind & rain (covered inch-to-inch with clear packing tape). Or, if you tend to have a lot of garage sales, you might want to invest in a few blank corrugated lawn signs, so you’ll always have a high-quality yard sale signs on hand.
- Putting a garage sale sign in your front yard? Just say “Yard Sale TODAY!” You want to avoid having too many words on your signs whenever possible, and you definitely don’t need the date and place on your front yard sign.
- If someone is looking at clothes (and you’ve got plenty of them left to sell), give them a bag and tell them it’s $5 for whatever clothing they can fit in the bag.
- Display small items (like jewelry) in a muffin tin. This keeps everything separate and easy to handle and helps to prevent things from tangling.
- Use plastic zip-top baggies to hold small parts & pieces that go with specific items.
- If you have really unique items that most people wouldn’t notice right away, prop a little sign in front of the item stating why it’s so unusual. Example: “These books are signed by IU basketball coach Bobby Knight” or “These dishes belonged to my great-grandmother.”
- Have a mirror nearby so your customers can see what glasses, jewelry, hats, coats, scarves, etc look on them.
- Items in their original boxes will sell for more. Place the original box and instruction manuals next to the item for sale whenever possible — especially for electronics, appliances, and larger items. Boxes show that you have an eye for detail and you probably took good care of this item.
- For your highest priced items, if you don’t have the box or info from your original purchase, then print out the info from an online retailer. I print the Amazon page so they can see how highly rated an item is and how much it costs “new”. Put the printout into a see-thru page protector, then tape that to the item itself.
- Whenever possible, tape your original store receipt onto the item — so customers can see what you actually paid for that item. Your yard sale price will seem like a real bargain!
- Have a box (or section) filled with kid-friendly goodies. This section is always a hit! (A) It gives the kids something to do and encourages their parents to shop more leisurely rather than rushing to get their impatient kids back to the car; and (B) If the child finds something they like and it’s priced right, then chances are the parent will buy it and add at least one item for themselves. Inexpensive kids items that sell well: balls of all sizes, keyrings, necklaces, sunglasses, kiddie backpacks, lanyards received from various conferences, broken costume necklaces that little girls would enjoy, doll-sized clothes & household items that could be used with dolls, small sample bottles of perfume/makeup, noisemakers of all kinds.
- Think outside the box when it comes to placing “dated” things into categories. Example: instead of placing an old typewriter with your office supplies, put a piece of paper inside, set it next to the kids stuff, and plug it in. Kids will enjoy tapping the keys and seeing the results appear in front of their eyes!
- Have a plugged-in extension cord handy, so buyers can see that the items do work.
- Instead of having a pile of various sized batteries on hand to test items, just put “older” batteries in the items you’re selling (Get them from items that you use all the time.) That way, your household items get a fresh set of batteries, and your yard sale customers are able to see right away that the item works. Battery-operated items that already have batteries inside sell much better than those that don’t.
- If several people have picked it up an item and then put it back down, chances are it’s priced too high. Either change the price verbally the next time you see someone looking at that item, or grab your blue painter’s tape and sharpie marker and stick a new price tag on it right away!
- If you have items that you’re surprised haven’t sold yet, re-think where they’re placed. (I’m constantly rearranging items at my yard sales!) Maybe the item is buried underneath things, placed in the wrong group/category of items, or just doesn’t make a good impression in a box. It usually helps if you move items out to the front & center. Either move it to another area of your garage sale where the other items in the grouping make more sense, or figure out a way that you can display the item more prominently (like on its own table), or bring the item near the cashier table where everyone’s sure to see it.
- If you have an “activity” type item that isn’t selling, you may want to have a helper (or your kids) play with the item while people are shopping — to attract some attention.
- Don’t put anything directly on the ground. Whatever you’re selling will instantly drop in value the minute it touches the bare ground. Instead, use sheets (solid color, not busy patterns), beach towels, tarps, or blankets for items that absolutely must be displayed at ground-level. A tarp is best. Otherwise, the morning dew will seep onto your items. In addition to being a real turn-off, it could ruin items made of paper, cardboard, and some fabrics.
- Only display items on your lawn that are large, easy to see from a distance, and self-explanatory. Try not to place smaller items that people have to browse through on the lawn area. Even if those items are in a box or on a blanket on the lawn, most people don’t find that a comfortable way to browse through items. Instead, make sure that smaller items that you want people to look through are placed closer to the driveway — ideally, on tables or upside down boxes so they’re higher up. That way, people don’t have to walk on the lawn and they can comfortably browse from the driveway itself.
- Make sure your yard sale looks “different” from the rest in some way. In my case, I wanted it to look “fun” and “guy-friendly”. So I used bright pink yard sale signs with large googly eyes to attract attention. (I wanted to use helium-filled balloons too, but forgot.) And I put the largest, most attention-getting things that men traditionally enjoy closest to the road.
- Put both the smaller and the more expensive items nearest your cashier table. That way, you can keep an eye on them.
- Make sure that your garage door is closed! Yes, closed. While it provides easy access for you to run inside and grab a drink, check on the pets, etc. whatever is inside your garage usually distracts the buyers. They can’t help but wish you’d sell items that they can see in there. Trust me, many of them will ask! (That’s one of my very best yard sale tips — you’re welcome.)
- Price items 25 cents or 50 cents higher than you would actually accept for the item — because almost all yard salers like to haggle. They almost always expect to get a better deal than what items are marked. So this way, everyone feels like they’ve “won” – they get a bargain and you get the price you determined ahead of time that you’d accept for it. Example: An item is marked $5.50. The customer asks, “Would you take $5 for this?” Of course I will! (…because I already took that into consideration when I priced the item).
- It’s easy to get carried away thinking you can make a lot of money selling these things at your yard sale, but when pricing items, always ask yourself what would YOU be willing to pay for the item? (… that’s been used by someone you don’t know!) It’s a yard sale. In the end, it feels better if you can say that you sold a LOT of things because your prices were so low than to realize that you only sold a FEW things because your prices were too high.
- Upsell when it makes sense. If you notice someone looks like they might be interested in buying X, then throw in Y for just $1 more (or whatever price would seem like a real bargain). The idea is to accept a lower price on some of your items just to get them sold.
- When you find someone who’s interested in things that very few people have picked up and looked at, reach out to that person and make them a better offer if they buy more items that are related to that one. Otherwise, you’re probably going to be stuck with those items at the end of the sale.
- If you’re selling something that is very valuable (like a piano or dining room table), put a large-sized photo in a prominent location for all shoppers to see. Then, leave the original item in the house or garage — where people can see it, but they can’t randomly touch (or damage) it.
- For items that are stored inside bags (like a camping tent in a large duffle bag), tape a picture of the item being used onto the bag itself. That way, shoppers will have a better idea of what’s inside the bag. You’ll be much more likely to sell that item.
- The one time that your junk is truly likely to be someone else’s treasure is when that junk pertains to building materials and supplies from construction sites, remodeling projects & DIY crafts. Think along the lines of old lumber, lawn & garden tools, leftover tile, brick, and stone. I’ve never sold scrap building supplies, but I was surprised how many people scooped up my collection of old wine and liquor bottles for 25 cents each.
- The more you can get items up off the ground, the better. In addition to using tables, you can raise items a few inches by turning a box upside down and using it as a table or hang items from a ladder.
- Items that are hung will sell better than items in boxes. Use objects that you have around the house to create unique hanging spaces at your yard sale (ladders, odd-shaped hangers, lawn & garden hooks).
- Do whatever you can to attract male shoppers. Trust me, I know. My most expensive, most attention-getting, and highest selling items at garage sales have always been items that men enjoy — like lawn mowers, tools, sports equipment, camping gear, and electronics. Approximately half of the $1,013.00 I made came from the sale of lawn equipment.
- If you have an item that isn’t nearly as attention-getting in a box as it would be in a display (like baby linens, dishes, glassware, etc.) take the time to show everyone how nice the item is by setting it up in a unique display — with a nice tablecloth, wrapped in a big ribbon, etc.
- Hang clothes on hangers (always). Don’t fold them (ever). People will pay more for clothes that are on hangers than for clothes that are on sheets, in boxes, or on tables.
- A word about selling clothes at yard sales… Clothes are usually one of the biggest eyesores at a yard sale. Not only do they look junky when they’re displayed (especially if they’re in piles or all strewn out on tables), they simply do not attract attention at garage sales. Period. If someone’s driving by your sale and most of what they see is clothes, they are very likely to keep driving. I repeat: Clothes are NOT a draw. Clothes are merely a “bonus” sale. And the quicker you can accept that fact, the more successful your yard sale will be — because you’ll put the majority of your attention into the other (more expensive) items that you’re selling, rather than the clothes that typically bring anywhere from 25 cents to 1 dollar apiece. Clothes are usually the last thing that people will look through right before they leave your yard sale; they’re never the first thing. My point: don’t set your sights on selling many clothing items.
- If you must sell clothing, group clothes by gender and by age (for kids clothes). For example, at my Fall yard sale, I had some brand new winter coats and some barely worn sweaters that I decided to sell (…since these items fit with the season). I used a 6-foot ladder with a pole secured across the center to hang the men’s items on one side and the women’s on the other. Each side was clearly labeled with a sign, but next time I’ll include the size ranges on the sign too — because most people were disappointed the items weren’t in their size, and I could have ended their frustration earlier had I mentioned that the men’s clothing was size XXL and the women’s was size XL. By the way, I ended up selling about half of the clothing items that I attempted to sell. And those were BRAND NEW or NEXT TO NEW items… in season. Let me be clear: clothes do not sell! (I’m basing this on my years of selling clothes at garage sales, not just this one time.)
- Look for uniquely-shaped items you already have in your household that would make great displays for some yard sale items — like tomato plant stakes (which are great for displaying individual items high up off the ground), ladders, trash cans, leftover wood scraps, old garden trellis or fencing, etc.
- If you have a truck and/or trailer and you’re able to deliver larger items to a buyer’s home yourself, post signs stating “FREE local delivery available”. Write these signs on a piece of sturdy cardboard and prop them on items that are large — like a lawn mower for sale.
- If a customer wants an item, but they must leave for some reason (to get more money, to get a vehicle big enough to hold the item they’re buying, to talk to their spouse, etc.), ask them to leave a deposit. Typically a $20 bill will suffice. You should agree to hold the item for a specific length of time, before it will go back up for sale and their deposit will be returned to them.
- While you’re waiting for a customer to return to pay for an item in full, there’s no need to remove the item from your yard sale display — especially if it’s large, and hard to move. Just put a big SOLD sign on the item instead. This serves 2 purposes: (1) it shows people driving by that you have quality items that people are buying; and (2) it allows you to collect names and phone numbers of people who continue to ask about that item — in case the original buyer doesn’t return within a reasonable time.
- If someone clearly wants an item but isn’t willing to pay the price you want for it, take their name and number. If the item doesn’t sell by the end of your yard sale, call them and offer it to them at the lower price.
- For what it’s worth, painter’s tape price stickers (my all-time favorite kind) don’t adhere to clothing very well. So for clothes, you’ll want to use safety pins to keep the price tags in place.
- Sell refreshments at your yard sale for 50 cents each. Items that work well: bottled water, canned soda, popsicles, snack bars, granola bars, snack-sized chip bags. I’ve heard that fresh-baked items also sell quite well at yard sales — especially if you have kids manning that table.
- There’s a bit of a debate about selling stuff that doesn’t work or doesn’t look nice at a garage sale. I say it’s okay to sell those items, just set the prices dirt cheap! Never hide the fact that something no longer works. Instead clearly label non-working items as such. Sometimes, a buyer will know how to fix the item or maybe they’ll want it for their kids to play with — you never know. The same is true with old furniture that appears to be in bad shape. Do-it-yourselfers are always looking for great deals on those things. Think Pinterest… who doesn’t want to try their hand at refinishing or repurposing something themselves? If it’s cheap enough, then it’s worth trying! DIY pet beds and toys are another popular yard sale niche.
- I debated about playing background music or not. For the first half of our sale, we didn’t play any music. Traffic was pretty steady and we were kept busy by people asking lots of questions, so we didn’t really have a need for music. However, for the last half of our sale, we played music from our Harley motorcycle that was parked in the garage. It was great for these reasons:
– It made it less obvious whenever very few people happened to be shopping the sale (after most items had already been picked over). Silence + few shoppers = a real downer.
– It helped us pass the time better during those lulls when fewer shoppers were visiting.
– It was a conversation starter. People enjoyed talking about the motorcycle itself (that we parked out of the way behind the items for sale).
– It caused people to linger longer — either talking about the motorcycle or just enjoying the soothing music while browsing. (Silence tends to make you want to get in and get out as a shopper.)
– It made it less obvious when hubby and I were talking to each other about personal things, like the day’s sales. Without the music, people could hear every word we were saying.
- At the halfway point of your sale, if someone balks at your price for an item, it’s time to start thinking “This item is going to Goodwill and I won’t get a single penny for it in a matter of minutes.” So if you accept a much lower price, then you’ll be done with it — the item will be gone and you’ll get something for it (which is better than nothing). This strategy definitely worked for me. I sold almost everything and had very few things leftover to take to Goodwill.
- Want to sell the most items possible? Then tailor your yard sale to meet your customers’ needs more than your own.
- If you start your yard sale with the mindset that this is “a pre sale” before you take these items to charity… for FREE, you will sell more items and make more money.
- One summer we had access to a tent canopy, so we set it up on the day of our garage sale. What a great luxury item! If you have a tent canopy (or know someone who does), you too will appreciate the conveniences that come with it. It can be used as shade on a hot summer day or shelter on a rainy day. It makes a great cashier stand and place to sell refreshments from. It’s also an eye-catching way to display your most expensive items, or furniture (arranged like a living room), or things that could melt in the sun on a really hot day.
- Don’t worry about being “beat up” on a price — if someone really wants it, let ‘em have it. You have to ask, “What are the odds that someone else is going to want this exact same item… in the next 1 hour of our sale?” Those odds decrease dramatically every hour that your sale lingers on. Generally, the best yard sale strategy is this: Anytime someone touches and item and looks genuinely interested in it, you want them to buy it — because the odds of someone else being interested in that exact same item are really quite slim.
- For me, the secret to a successful yard sale is to (a) be organized and (b) sell as many guy things as possible. These are some of the statements we overheard about our yard sale: “There is so much testosterone at this sale!” “This is the most organized yard sale I’ve ever seen.” “This is one if the greatest yard sales I’ve been to.” “Good prices, and lots of items well organized.” “This is a garage sale for dudes!” “Everything is high up and easy to look through.” “I’m glad there was a guy on hand to answer my questions (about lawn equipment and electronics)” “I saw lots of guys stopping here.”
- Also, in support of those claims, we easily had 2 males for every 1 female shopping at any given time. Several men told us things like, “I’m supposed to be getting my wife coffee at Starbucks, but I had to stop when I saw what you have here!” “I told my wife I was going to the grocery store, just so I could swing back by your sale!” “No, I’m not going to all the other garage sales going on around here, I just saw your stuff and decided to stop.”
- Bundle items whenever possible. If you have lots of the same (or similar) items, ask a higher price for one of them and a really good price for several of them. You want them all gone, don’t you? Example #1: individual 12×12 sheets of scrapbook paper – $25 cents apiece or 10 for $1.50. Example #2: women’s clothing – $2 apiece or 3 for $5. Example #3: books – 50 cents apiece or 3 for $1.
- One of the newest trends in yard sales is to have a section of FREE items. My recommendation is to have a sign that says: “One Item Per Adult Please.” That way people (and kids) aren’t walking away with all of your freebies at once. It’s okay for kids to have one each, but having the sign at least makes them think twice — or ask — before scooping up everything that’s free. Some items I had there: a broken $150 point & shoot digital camera, tiny notepads, posters, a belt buckle, etc.
- You might want to reconsider having too many kid-friendly things at your FREE table. The reason: if a child finds something they like at the free table, they are 100% less likely to try to find something else you’re selling. So I usually put 25 cents on small kid-friendly items instead of including them on the FREE table — because I know most parents don’t balk whenever their child wants something so inexpensive.
- A word about posters… Despite what you might think, no one pays for posters unless they’re in pristine condition. I’ve built up a collection of about 100 posters (sports hero posters, movie posters, music celebrity posters) and tried selling them at 3 different yard sales. Trust me, no one even looks through ‘em! I sold ONE (1) Nolan Ryan poster for $1.00 after all of those sales! So put posters at your “free” table. People will look through them and you’ll generate a lot of interest and happiness at your sale.
- If you have pets, then selling used items at a pet table can be a huge success. I sold every item that was at my “dog stuff” table. The best part is you on’t have to feel bad about things not being in excellent condition. People who foster dogs and/or take in rescue dogs (even people who just got a new puppy) often don’t seek out the latest & greatest doggie toys and gadgets — any dog toy, food bowl, dog collar and leash will work!
- Books sell fairly well at garage sales, as long as they’re priced cheap (less than $1). Just be sure to sell books in boxes with the spine up, rather than spread out on tables, blankets, or sheets.
- Whenever someone arrives at your yard sale, don’t sit there like a bump on a log. But don’t jump up to greet them and get all chatty either. Both are slightly offensive to people who don’t know you well. At yard sales, I’ve found that it works best to give shoppers a few minutes to get a feel for the layout of your sale and the type of items you’re offering — on their own. My advice is to watch your shoppers closely, and the minute someone looks at you to say “Hi” or to ask a question, greet them with a smile and be helpful — as needed.
- Make sure that your entire yard sale space contains only items that are for sale. Don’t confuse people with other items nearby that may look appealing in your garage or driveway. If they’re in plain sight, they should be for sale. Otherwise, cover them up with sheets, blankets or tarps — or close the garage doors!
- Place your largest, most expensive items for sale closest to the road. You want as many people to see them as possible. It’s also a good idea to place one super-unique item at the very back of your sale area — but only if it’s eye-catching enough to “draw” people in and make them want to walk through your entire sale to see it.
- Also place at least one attention-getting item in your front yard, on your mailbox, or at the entrance to your driveway. Some examples: flags, pennants on a string, balloons, neon signs, orange traffic cones, life-size cardboard cut-outs, or just anything that’s large and brightly colored.
- Sign spinners actually work quite well. So you may want to do what people do for car washes and store sales… have someone spin a sign, or just have a couple people holding signs that call attention to your sale. You could have them at the nearest intersection to send traffic your way, or have them stand in your front yard to get on-site attention.
- Make sure your yard sale signs have arrows (even if they’re not really necessary). Arrows subliminally “point” people toward your sale, whether they’re interested in yardsaling or not. Your brain sees and arrow almost like a “order” to do something. It’s a natural, comfortable feeling for people to follow arrows.
- A big yard sale is better than a small one. If you don’t have much “great” stuff to sell, don’t waste your time having a small sale. You’ll only become frustrated that nothing is selling — and what is selling is going very slowly. What makes a yard sale work is (a) having a lot of valuable high-quality items for sale, (b) having large or unusual items that attract attention for sale, and (c) having a lot of people shopping at your sale at one time. If you only have lots of “little stuff” to sell, you’re not going to accomplish those 3 things.
- If you have a well-organized yard sale, it shows people that you care about details and you probably took really good care of the items you’re selling
- If you happen to use a pest control service that leaves a small sign in your yard that says this lawn has recently been treated (like I do), re-use those small plastic lawn signs to make ground-level signs that show which “category” the items on your tarps, blankets, and sheets on the lawn belong to.
- When using boxes to group similar items together for your display, don’t cram too many items inside each box. It’s best to have fewer items inside more boxes, than to have more items in fewer boxes.
- When you’re selling season-specific items, you’ll have to price your items lower if an item is not in-season right now. So if your yard sale is in the Fall, you’re not going to get as much for lawn equipment and gardening tools as you are in the summer months. And if your yard sale is in the Summer, you’re not going to get as much for Christmas ornaments and camping gear.
- In addition to organizing things into categories and displaying them in clear groups at your yard sale, make sure to leave a clear walking path! Otherwise, it looks too cluttered. And clutter turns people away. In my case, I like to place items on both edges of the driveway itself (and on blankets/tarps on the grass near those edges, if necessary). That way I can leave a long empty walkway straight up the middle of the driveway. Also, if you do display items on the lawn, make sure there’s a comfortable path for people to get to those items as well. Otherwise, those items won’t sell.
- Price every single item and put the price sticker in an obvious place right on front. If people have to hunt for the price tag, they’ll often skip it out of frustration. Sometimes they think, “Maybe they want me to make an offer – I don’t want to do that.”
- Wait until the morning of your sale to post your yard sale signs — after you have most of your items displayed on tables and ready to go. Ideally, you want a friend, spouse, or child to post the signs for you while you remain on-site selling items and collecting money.
- When making change, always ask the customer to hold onto their money until you’ve come up with the correct change from your own money bag. Otherwise, you (or they) might forget what they gave you — “Was that a 10 dollar bill or a 20 dollar bill?”
- Take the time to clean up your yard right before the yard sale. If necessary, mow the lawn, sweep the sidewalk, rake the leaves, use a weed wacker around the edges, remove trash — anything you can do to make a great first impression helps. If your place looks nice, people assume that the items you’re selling will look nice. If your place looks junky, people will assume your probably selling junky items. We mowed, edged, and planted colorful mums the day before our Fall yard sale.
- If you’re crafty, sell things you’ve made at your yard sale! In addition to selling some of your handcrafted items on-site, you’re likely to get some orders for future purchases as well!
- During the last hour (when very few people were stopping because all of the best items were gone), we told shoppers that everything was now half price! This would have been even more effective if I had pre-made signs to post in lots of obvious places — so people driving by would have known about our awesome half-price sale.
- The last thing you want is for your yard sale to look picked-over. So as things sell, keep closing large gaps and moving things closer to the road. That way it will look like you still have plenty of things for sale and the nicest, most expensive things will be obvious.
- Look through the items that didn’t sell at your yard sale and set aside any that are worth more than, say, $20 apiece. At the risk of becoming a hoarder, those might be worth holding onto for a future garage sale (at a different time of year, for example). However, be honest with yourself, because most items will only go down in value over time. Is it really worth it to hold onto these items? I keep such items in a separate closet in a guest bedroom.
- For the items that didn’t sell at your yard sale, you have 5 options: (1) Save ‘em for a future yard sale — not recommended, as that can lead to hoarding (2) Sell them on eBay or Craigslist right away — but what are your chances of really following through with that plan? (3) Give the items away for free on Freecycle — but do you really want to take the time to list each individual item? (4) Donate the items to charity — pre-schedule a date and time for the charity pick up your items that week (5) Stay an extra hour and call it a “FREE Hour!” — where everyone who stops can take all they want for free! Here’s a fun way to attract more people to your FREE Sale… On the day of your yard sale, a couple hours before you plan to end the sale, post a Craigslist ad under “free stuff” that says “Everything’s FREE for the last 2 hours of our yard sale TODAY ONLY!” then mention the address and hours.
- And finally, one of the best yard sale tips to help you prepare for your next garage sale… take the time to visit garage sales in your area throughout the year and make note of what they’re doing differently to attract customers and sell more items. You’ll probably learn a few great tricks that way!
Consider a Sale’s End Clearance Event: post a sign advising that all merchandise will be half-price after 2 p.m. Alternately, stock up on grocery sacks and announce a “dollar a bag” special for the last hour of the sale. Buyers pay a dollar or two for each full bag — and you avoid the need to trek the unsold items to a charity site. Whatever you do, don’t let the survivors back in the house! If you can’t sell this stuff at a garage sale, what do you want with it, anyway?~ Organized Home
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I like to help people find unique ways to do things that will save time & money — so I write about “outside the box” Household Tips and Life Hacks that most wouldn’t think of. I’m super-organized. And I LOVE to clean! I even enjoy doing laundry (but not ironing). I’m also a lifelong dog owner — so I often share my favorite tips for living with dogs inside your home (like smart home design choices and dog-friendly cleaning & decorating ideas). Career-wise, I’ve been sharing my best ideas with others by blogging full-time since 1998 (the same year that Google started… and before the days of Facebook and YouTube). Prior to that, I worked in Higher Ed over 10 years before switching gears to pursue activities that I’m truly passionate about instead. For example, 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. When I’m not cleaning, organizing, decorating, or fixing something… you’ll find me at the corner of Good News & Fun Times as publisher of The Fun Times Guide (32 fun & helpful websites). To date, I’ve personally written over 200 articles about cleaning, organization, DIY repairs, and household hacks on this site! A few have over 2M shares; many others have over 100K shares.
4 thoughts on “How I Made $1,013 At A Garage Sale – 101 Of My Very Best Yard Sale Tips!”
I’m a big yard sale shopper, and I use some of the things you say not to do to my advantage as a buyer. My favorite time to shop is when there’s bad weather, even though I know there’s fewer sales. Half the time I won’t even bother buying anything if someone doesn’t have any prices at all listed. There’s been times when I asked how much something was, and they wanted way more than its worth. So much more, that there was no way they would take what I’d be willing to pay for it. Most of the time, it’s very awkward for me, so I just avoid the situation altogether.
Great points, Budgie! As a shopper, that’s so smart of you to take advantage of the things that some yard sale hosts do (or don’t do) – I would too 😀
Great tips!! We always haul at least $500 from our yard sales – the only thing I found odd is that clothing doesn’t seem to be a big seller for you. That’s always at least half of my profit! I place some folded on a big table, usually have 2 giant tarps on the lawn with clothes / shoes / purses / makeup, and hang large items like coats or dresses. People do LOVE the grab bag idea – stuff a small bag for $5 or large lawn & leaf bag for $10. But yeah clothing always sells great for me. Pricing is also so important. I try to do group pricing though, like “all shirts 1.00, pants 2.00 coats 3.00 etc”. Then just individually price things like appliances or decor. This summer I plan to have a giant sale to finally clear out my garage … the “Everything is $1 sale” lol
Hi Ashley – good to hear that clothing sells well for you. You’re definitely pricing clothes right! Thanks for the fun tips 😀