How To: Have A Yard Sale

We love yard/garage/stoop sales. Recently we got a cute teapot for $3! Yay!

If you’d like to please us by selling us your cute teapots, you’ll need to throw a yard sale. Get Rich Slowly has put together a bunch of tips for excellent yard retailing. The most important?

Get some other people involved so you have more stuff to sell. Customers like variety. —MEGHANN MARCO


A Yard Sale Checklist: Ten Tips for Garage Sale Prep
[Get Rich Slowly]
(Photo: AaronK)

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  1. Triteon says:

    Tip 11: Make sure you have the proper permits, if necessary. In my area residents can hold two sales per year without charge, but a permit ($10) is required for each sale after that. (How the hell the city monitors this is beyond me, other than inconvenienced neighbors calling the police.)

  2. Kornkob says:

    Got a dog that likes people? Tie him out in the yard where people can visit him but they don’t have to. Sometimes people will stop just to see the dog and then get drawn in.

  3. npbeers says:

    A few things…

    I personally find it easier and more profitable to not price each item. I keep a rough idea in my head as to how much I’d like to get it return, but generally I don’t want the hassle of having to deal with the left-overs, so I want everything to sell. If something is priced too high people will often just walk away. Talk to the customers if they are chatty and try to sell the items… ask what they are willing to pay and negotiate on everything. They will feel like they are getting a deal, and you’ll often find people willing to pay more than you would have marked it.

    As for signs, include a date/time since many people do not take down their signs at the end of their sales. It can get frustrating following signs for a sale that was last weekend. Also, whatever time you put (I recommend no later than 8am) be setup and an hour before (in this case 7am). The serious shoppers will show up early and are often willing to pay a little more for a harder to find item. Later in the day, especially the last day, people will often be looking for great deals and not often specific items… sell cheap to finish things off… you can bring in more than you’d expect…

    Place signs at nearby major intersections and at each turn along the way. The more people you can funnel to you sale the better!

    Give away free lemonade… i spent $15 on a few gallons of Chick-Fil-A’s fresh squeezed and it was a hit! People linger longer and are more likely to buy….

    At my last sale my wife and I made $600 in one Saturday from 7:30am to 2:30pm…

  4. FatLynn says:

    Anyone else think it is hysterical that they say you should sell on CL if you want top dollar?

  5. Youthier says:

    Adequate parking! You may need to sacrifice some of your lawn if you’re on a busy road but I’ve seen plenty of people (particularly moms with kids) pass up a sale when the person has their entire yard and driveway roped off.

  6. SaraAB87 says:

    Does anyone know what to do if someone changes a price on you at a yard sale. I am talking about like if you see an item in a box labeled 25 cents per item, and when you go to pay for the item the person running the yard sale suddenly tries to charge you 1$ per item. Then when you say where you found the item they say that people are throwing the items around and insist the item should cost more. I don’t care about the money its the principle that someone is being dishonest and trying to change the prices on me. This has happened to me a few times already, so every time it happens I just drop everything I am going to buy and leave, seems to piss off the person trying to change the prices and leaves them with a pile of junk that no one else will take. I am not afraid to walk away from a yard sale and walking away gives me more satisfaction then buying the item for the changed price. I can deal with people not wanting to bargain but this I cannot deal with.

    The tips are excellent, if your telling people that item x sells for price x on ebay, then why not go sell it there! Have heard this line way too many times… oh this item is worth such and such on ebay, and usually its a blatent lie.

    PRICE YOUR ITEMS!!!! This is probably the biggest tip of all, as a yard sale shopper if your items are not priced then I am not going to buy, period. Not pricing your items tells me that you have something to hide and that you are trying to charge outrageous amounts for junk. Putting a sign like: books… 25 cents works as well, if you don’t have time to put an individual price tag on something.

    Electronics almost never work right, only pay the price you would pay for something if it was broken if you are not allowed to test it. This way you don’t feel bad if something doesn’t work when you get it home. If you can fix things consider this tip null. If you are shopping for small electronics you might want to keep some batteries in your purse, pocket or car.

    Know your area, some area’s items for 10 and 20$ sell before the lower priced items, other area’s the lower the price the first it is to sell. In our area you cannot really sell anything over 5$, anything over 5$ should be on ebay. Items must be priced low, ideally all items should be 1$ or under for maximum sales, I went to a moving sale where most items were 10 cents -1$ and you know what they had sold almost everything out of their garage by the time I got there and didn’t have any leftovers to deal with!!! Leftovers are not cool, have a bag sale (fill a bag for 2$), have a half price sale, do something to get rid of it, making a little money on it is better than having to give it away at the end of the day.

    Don’t leave cd’s and other disks in their cases, THEY WILL GET STOLEN!

    Watch your sale, plan to sit out there with it all day or else people will come by and steal things, its just too easy to rob from a yard sale, again I have seen it happen many, many times, so you have to take precautions.

    Be nice to your customers, don’t come off as an ebay seller (even if you are one), be friendly and don’t come off as extra pushy or money hungry, people will recognize this and they will buy more if you are nice, remember you are trying to sell a product here. If you act like you just want to get rid of the stuff then people will buy more, if you are so attached to it that you won’t let it go then its not a good idea to put it out for sale in the first place. Don’t argue at your yard sale, this is bad, especially in front of the customers.

  7. jamesdenver says:

    Re: Your signs. Be a courteous neighbor and please take them down after your sale.

  8. I don’t price things, but I have a ’25 cent table’ and a ‘dollar table’ etc.

    Also, i tell peopel “after 1pm it’s all free” and then I see who shows back up.

    because the goal ultimately for me is to get rid of stuff, and i’ve had people come at 1pm and haul all my junk away, leaving me nothing but a few tables. that is heaven.

  9. bbbici says:

    i like to bundle items. for instance: buy any 3 cookbooks and get this thighmaster free. buy two shirts and get a tie for free.

    buy-two-get-one-free is a good promotion.

    Negotiate on prices, but don’t just give stuff away to unreasonable offers. I’ve had customers come back at the end of the day after walking away; if they give you a BS offer again, say you are packing up the item to try to sell next time. They usually cave. Experienced buyers of used stuff know they have to act quickly when they see something they like.

    Offering COMPLIMENTARY coffee and snacks is a good idea.

  10. Pelagius says:

    What is this “yard” or “garage” you speak of?

  11. When you move from an area that houses students/20somethings to an areas that houses mostly families, what sells changes A LOT.

    I was used to being able to dump all kinds of electronics & outdated games — even broken electronics, priced right and labeled “for parts” would sell, you know, for parts.

    Now I can’t PAY people to take those but tacky religious statues and useless kitchen gagetry go fast and go for a good price.

    Clothes typically don’t sell very well (except children’s clothes) and you’re often better off just donating those.

    There are lots of charitable organizations that will come at the end of your yard sale and pick up what’s left over. Not so much Goodwill or the Salvation Army, but often churches or community organizations that run rummage sales as fundraises or have “community closets” for the poor or homeless.

  12. Oh, and always band together with neighbors and start the day right with mimosas!

  13. hop says:

    i already have a yard……………………

  14. SaraAB87 says:

    You definitely have to act fast if you really want something, don’t come back the next day expecting it to be there. That goes for pretty much any sort of “used” buying though. If you see a good item snatch it up as fast as you can often there is another person right behind you who is after the same item. Might want to drive by the houses of people who have had sales at night or the next day, most people throw out their yardsale remains and you can pick through them, my friend does this and gets some good stuff.

    For selling clothes, I have heard if you put “plus sized womens clothes” in the ad people will come running, but of course do not do that unless you have that product to sell! Donate the more worn out clothes and leave the wearable stuff to sell, people don’t want to be digging through bins of worn out used clothing of any size. Clothes that are not worn out but outdated are OK.

    Worn shoes never sell, donate these, don’t waste space at your yard sale with them unless maybe they are unworn. Its easier to throw them in a bag for donating than having to put them out and pack them up again because they are not selling. I constantly see bins of used filthy flip flops for 2$ a pair.. why even bother.

    I like the city ordinance idea though, a lot of people here set up “permanent” yard sales with lots of wet and dirty items, you can tell its been sitting out for a few weeks if the items are wet (note: these are usually the sheister people who want an arm and a leg for their items, there is a reason their items aren’t selling)! I don’t see why a person would need to set up more than 2 yard sales a year heh.

    Even pitchers of cold ice water would be a hit especially on a hot day. Most people here charge 1$ for a bottle of water at yard sales, offering it for free could help. Its summer so bottled water is cheap, a 3-4$ case of water and some cheap paper cups would probably last all afternoon.

  15. jwissick says:

    My big thing is to take down the signs when you are done… No one wants to look at your litter for the next month cause you were too lazy to take down the signs.

  16. SaraAB87 says:

    I agree about the signs too, you should be fined if you don’t take them down (its obvious who didn’t take down the signs because your address is usually on the signs), no one wants to look at a neighborhood littered with yard sale signs. Write down where you put the signs so you don’t forget either, if your going to bother to put them up, bother to take them down too!

  17. mac-phisto says:

    here’s my own ten tips for success:

    1) if you’re selling electronics, have an extension cord & offer to demo – this will usually disarm the “what if it doesn’t work” denial.

    2) NEVER hold something for someone unless they pay you first – they most likely won’t be back & you’re stuck. furthermore, i tell people i will hold it only for a few hours if they pay. if they come back & it’s gone, i’ll give them their money back.

    3) i hate early birds. 8am means 8am in my book – if you are the same, do what i do: EARLY BIRDS SHOT ON SITE on all my signs.

    4) WRITE REALLY BIG ON SIGNS – 16pt. is really hard to read at 50mph.

    5) price/no price – hard to say which is best. some people do not like to constantly have to ask or offer a price. others are automatically turned off by the advertised price. i price fair & always have a big sign that says “NO REASONABLE OFFERS REFUSED”.

    6) when a buyer is haggling w/ you, look at their shoes. a tag saler in bostonians doesn’t get the bargain basement price at my table.

    7) watch out for gypsies. i’ve been worked before. they usually operate in teams of 3 – be especially wary when a particular person constantly vies for your attention (s/he’s just distracting you while the others fill their pockets). when speaking to people, never turn your back on “the store”.

    8) i’ve held out premium merchandise (ipods, video game systems, guitars) before so that the tag sale is not just books & beer mugs at 2pm. if someone asks or if they are a big spender, i’ll direct them to the merchandise, or i’ll bring it out later to keep a good balance.

    9) tag salers usually quit after lunch (at least in conn.), so don’t waste the whole day. pack up before 3pm – you’ll notice traffic drop considerably in the afternoon.

    10) have fun! you are getting rid of shit & making money – is there anything better? enjoy yourself – people buy more when they’re entertained! i once went to a tag sale where the owner dressed in a chicken suit. i bought shit just b/c his antics made me laugh.

  18. Joel Risberg says:

    Two words: Free Sale.

    Ask yourself whether you’d rather have a little money and most of your stuff left to drag back in at the end of the day, or instead get rid of nearly everything.

    We put our stuff out on the lawn with big “Everything Free” signs and leave it out all day — even as the sun is going down when sales normally peter out. We can go inside or leave anytime we like without worrying, and by evening our yard is nearly picked clean of even stuff that wouldn’t get a second glance at 25 cents. Free is always the right price.

    Also, you can promote your sale for free at our site:

    http://www.yardsalesearch.com/

    Joel

  19. ElizabethD says:

    @mac-phisto:

    LOL re: shot on site.

    I have found a gentler but pretty effective way of keeping people out before opening time: I post signs on sawhorses on my sidewalk/driveway that say: “Before 8 am, prices of all items are tripled.”

    The hardcore dealers will still want to come in and look, so it’s not a perfect solution… Keeps the idle looky-lous out, though.

  20. minneapolisite says:

    If selling lots of electronics, provide a power strip and a “testing center.” For computer components, have a return policy. Print up a receipt template with your phone # and jot down the information on each item–then tell them that they know where you live and you don’t want to be a bad neighbor. People will (1) be willing to pay more, (2) might buy more items, (3) probably won’t bother returning the broken item anyway.