How To Throw A Successful Yard Sale

Unless you get rid of as much stuff as you bring into your home on shopping trips, you’ve probably got a bunch of useless things that you’re best off unloading. One potentially profitable way to simplify is to hold a yard sale. If you play things the right way, you could end up with less clutter and more cash.

ReadyForZero offers advice on how to make you yard sale a worthy endeavor:

* Make sure you’ve got the right stuff. You’ll need tables, hangers, a calculator, small bills, pricing stickers and bins for your items. The more organized your setup, the more accommodating your shopping environment will be.

* Spread the word. Plug in to the garage sale community by posting your sale for free online at Craigslist and Post the hours and the types of items you’ll put up for sale.

* Put out snacks. Your customers will likely be making a day of it, hitting up several other sales in addition to yours. Make them like you just a little bit more by feeding them chips and soft drinks.

Tips to Turn Any Yard Sale Into a Money Making Success [ReadyForZero]


Edit Your Comment

  1. MrMagoo is usually sarcastic says:

    Put prices on everything! I hate garage sales where the owners are too lazy to put prices on their stuff, and you have to go ask the price.

    • MutantMonkey says:

      That’s not necessarily lazy. That gets you into the negotiation phase of the deal where the owner can get a feel of how you value the item and then negotiate from there.

      • SkokieGuy says:

        If that is their strategy, I don’t want to play that game.

        A price establishes a starting point for negotiations.

        Some people have unrealistic expectations and if there are prices, I can quickly gauge if their idea of value and mine are in the same ballpark.

        • MutantMonkey says:

          But this allows for communication on every item. If you see something you feel is overpriced and walk away from it when what you would like to pay works for the owner, you have both missed the opportunity.

          • Cat says:

            If you have no idea what your shit is worth, I have no time to dicker.

            Same with cars – if you put no price on it, I won’t even look.

            • MutantMonkey says:

              No price labels doesn’t mean a lack of awareness.

              • Straspey says:

                A friend of mine, who is a musician, was walking through a flea market not long ago, when she spotted a brass instrument hanging from a hook on a wall – which was dusty and had obiously been there for some time.

                She asked the owner about i and he took it down for her to inspect.

                It did not have a price tag on it.

                As she was handling the instrument she asked the guy how much he wanted for it and he replied he “could let her have it” for $175.

                She said that sounded fair – so she paid the man and left with the horn.

                What she knew – and what the owner did not know – was the horn was a professional, high-caliber brand which is used my professional symphonic musicians at the top of the scale.

                I asked her if she was going to use it herself, but since she prefers a different make and model for her own use, my friend told me she would spend a few hundred bucks to have the instrument cleaned up, and then probably sell it in the private market.

                Based upon its condition, vintage, and the fact that those horns are still in demand, it will probably command a selling price of about $3,500 – $4,000.

                • MutantMonkey says:

                  And you assume that that level of unawareness applies to all unpriced items?

                  • Straspey says:

                    No –

                    I assume that while somebody may value an item at $175, and be happy to have the cash to be rid a “that old piece of junk” – somebody else may want to have it so badly – for whatever reason – that they may be willing to pay $4,000 to own it.

                    If you were selling the horn with a price tag of $175, I would be glad to pay you the money.

                    OTOH – If you had not put a tag on it – even if you had no idea as to the value of the instrument – chances are I would have offered you a bit more…possibly even twice as much.

                    Many people who make their living by selling stuff on Ebay spend their weekends at yard and estate sales – and I often see their items with descriptions like, “I have no idea about trumpets” – or – The label says “John Doe, Demoines, Iowa 1956”.

                    The starting bids are often $15.00, but the smart seller knows the market will drive up the price to its value – and eventually somebody will really want it that badly that they will be willing to spend a lot of money to have it – because that person values “it” more than they do having the cash.

                    The same mechanics will hold true at a yard sale.

            • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

              If you’re going to haggle anyways, does it really matter? Sticker prices are meaningless at pawn shops, antique stores, flea markets, garage sales, and car lots.

            • Jawaka says:

              I have an idea of what it’s worth, I just don’t know how much you’re willing to offer.

        • jefeloco says:

          A former coworker of mine would get upset when no one from work would show up to his yard/garage sales. He would hash out a price list with model names/numbers and photos of the top items and post it in the break areas, lots of work put into everything.

          The big problem was that most of his stuff was a few years old and he basically priced it all at full retail minus 10%. He had no idea how much the stuff was actually worth so he added his own sentimental value, thinking other people would accept that value as real.

          I don’t go yard saleing very often, but when I do, it’s with a couple of Dos Equis in hand to dull the pain.

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      I’ve never been to a garage sale that had prices on anything. I wonder if this is a regional thing.

      Even with antique stores or flea markets, the stuff that has prices are so inflated to begin with, they make the price tags worthless.

    • Outrun1986 says:

      This is a strategy, they want to see what you will pay for them item so they aren’t undervaluing it. Perceptions of item value vary hugely among people. If I am the seller I lose if I put a $10 tag on something and I get a best offer of $40 on the item because that is what the buyer is willing to pay.

      Also, its a ton of work to price every single item, adding to the already huge workload that you have when hosting a yard sale.

      • who? says:

        But if there’s no prices, I’ll just walk away and buy my junk somewhere else. So who wins then?

        • MutantMonkey says:

          The seller, because someone will come along who knows the game and will participate.

        • Jawaka says:

          If its something that you’re really interested in you ask for the price. If not then the odds are you weren’t going to purchase it anyway.

    • belanos says:

      I TOTALLY agree. Unless it’s a really expensive item or something of which you don’t know the value and you want to get offers. I truly believe most people do not want to haggle, make offers..and a LOT of people don’t want to ask “how much?”. When I don’t price things, I see people seriously look at items, then put them down and leave. When i price things, I make more sales.

    • fertig says:

      It depends on where you’re from. Some places, people are deadset on haggling anyway, so it would probably be to your advantage to leave the prices off.

  2. conquestofbread says:

    Don’t hold a yard sale this time of year if you live in New England.

    • SheTastesLikesCigerecxh says:

      This. However, I love the first warm weekends in Burlington, Vermont. Tons of high quality free stuff on the curbs, and garage sales everywhere.

      • conquestofbread says:

        I have lived in every state in NE except Vermont (and RI, but that is more like CT’s cesspool than a real state). I’ve always wanted to go there. It seems so quaint and nice.

    • HoJu says:

      Totally wrong. if you have a garage and heat, hold a yard sale ONLY if you have cool stuff. You will be the ONLY person having a yard sale and you’ll sell out to all the dealers and vultures (like me) that are searching for stuff.

  3. Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

    * Get a permit (if required).
    * Take down signs when you wrap things up.
    * Respect your neighbors (tell people to move if they’re blocking driveways).

    • HalOfBorg says:

      I also remove my signs – keep them local and make them SIMPLE people. Large letters that read “SALE” with an arrow – that’s all you need.

    • Kuri says:

      “* Take down signs when you wrap things up.”

      This this a thousand times this. I likely don’t need to say how frustrating it is to spot a sign, go to check it out, only to find out the sign has been up for weeks after the sale ended.

      • j2.718ff says:

        Also, put a date on the signs, just in case you forget to take down some of them. “Tag Sale Today!” “This Saturday!” Such signs are useless if the sale was two weeks ago.

  4. comatose says:

    I’m not ever doing this again. Everybody wanted like everything for 10 cents. Screw em. I’d rather donate or burn anything before I go through another extortion filled day of yard sale again. My wife had Talbot’s dresses with the original tags for like $40, for example, and she had marked them down to Goodwill levels of like $2-$5. People would grab the clearly marked garage sale priced items, and want like four of these things for like 50 cents. WTF. And when we wouldn’t go down to that (although we did budge downwards a bit), they would huff and puff and through the clothing down on a couch or table and leave in a big spectacle of outrage. I wasn’t even trying to sell anything high end like newer electronics or anything – could you imagine how that would have turned out?

    Like I said, it got to the point where I just closed the sale down, and donated everything to the thrift store even though I could have gotten a premium price of 25 cents for huge bundles of nice clothing (that was sarcasm if you didn’t catch it.)

    • Southern says:

      Yep, pretty much the same type of experience I had.. Prices on everything, cheap as heck, and people would STILL only want to pay a nickle for something we had priced at a quarter.

      Now I follow a simple rule – if it ain’t worth selling on eBay, yardsellr or Craigslist (for the big stuff like furniture), then it goes to Goodwill.

    • 10,000 Hours says:

      The worst thing about garage sales is dealing with the people who go to garage sales.

    • HalOfBorg says:

      Tell them ‘No’. Let them leave all unhappy. Don’t let them talk you down. What’s left you donate. Everyone happy except the cheapskates.

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      I’ve had a few garage sales over the years and I never had one to make money.

      They’re more of an excuse to get rid of junk without hauling it to good will or the city dump, while making $20 or $30 in the process. If someone is being completely unreasonable, I just say “sorry” and move on.

      • Rachacha says:

        You just need to hold bigger sales! Every garage sale that I have done has yielded $500-$1000 or more in one day. The most recent one that we did, we were selling old computers that belonged to one of our employers (we had to give them the cash we made on the sale), but with those computers included, we sold about $4800 worth of stuff. Granted, we did have some furniture and appliances that we were selling for $100-$200, but most of the stuff was $1-$5

    • quail says:

      If you’ve got original price tags on the items, you should look for consignment clothing stores to sell the clothing. Yea, there’s a horrid group of people who do garage sales and all they want to do is get everything for the cheapest price possible. They could care less about reasonable value. (Dealt with them as well in my garage sales.)

      BTW, Salvation/GoodWill sell their clothes for a freaking premium anymore. Every time I’ve been able to buy brand new clearance items from the big retailers for less than what the thrift store wanted for similar clothing. $2 to $5 for never worn women’s clothes from Talbot would have been a steal for the right person.

    • energynotsaved says:

      Years ago, we had a neighborhood yard sale. I had my stuff marked low and just wanted to get rid of it. Some lady ripped off something that I had priced for a quarter. Couldn’t believe it. Also couldn’t believe that I spent about 20 hours total to make less than $50!

      Fast forward 10 years. My son was trying to sell stuff to raise some cash, and I added my junk to it. I think we made a grand total of $30. What a joke. Now, I give my good stuff to a friend who raises charity money via an annual yard sale. Everything else goes to Goodwill.

      • Rachacha says:

        Stealing stuff happens all the time. We had a yard/moving sale this summer. We had the garage and entire driveway full of items, and my kids got in the spirit by making some necklaces and trying to sell them for 50 cents. My wife and I divided and conquered, one handling the sales and negotiations and the other on security detail. During an especially busy time, we also asked one of our neighbors who was shopping for her kid going off to college to stick around and help us with security.

        One customer had a handful of items, and their total sale came out to about $150 we noticed that she has one of my daughter’s necklaces hidden hoping that we would not see it. We called her out on it “Oh, I see you picked out a necklace, our daughter was so excited to make them and run her own little sale…” the customer had some sort of awkward response, knowing that she had been busted. We were going to cut her a deal because she had purchased so much stuff, but instead, we made her pay “sticker” price for everything.

        A technique that we noticed several people try was they would come as a group of 5 or 6 people and divide throughout the sale, two of them trying to distract us while others tried to pocket items. For that, we enlisted our kids to just stare at the customers who were “browsing” making sure to report to us everything that they had picked up and placed in their pockets. It also did not hurt that I had a security camera prominently installed on the exterior of the house (at the time it was disconnected), but it was a deterant.

    • Outrun1986 says:

      Yeah that is my experience with a yard sale here, however its usually very location based so someone else may have a very different experience. I am not spending tons of time and energy to haul stuff out on my lawn to make $50. I am not lazy but if you have ever done a yard sale you know how much work it requires. I don’t have space in my house to store a pile of junk where people won’t be tripping over it and it won’t be all over the place while I am getting ready to have the sale. I am better off shipping the good stuff on ebay because when it sells it is out of my sight and donating the rest. Newspaper ads for yard sales are a good $25-35 here too, and I have researched this and it really does cost that much for an ad here. Done it enough to know and seen enough yard sales here to know that you will only sell about 25% of your stuff that you put out at a yard sale. If I lived in one of those areas where people are known to clean the lawns empty then I would gladly hold a yard sales.

    • Kevin411 says:

      In my recent sale, I knew up front that unloading my stuff onto other folks was a bigger than making money for me, so I set it up as a fund-raiser for a local non-profit that helps get homeless teens off the street and into a better life. While I did have a few nice things to sell, I think the non-profit motive was what helped me get more for most things. It was a charity I would donate to anyway, so I had no problem earmarking my receipts to them. It was nice having a reason to turn down early shoppers who wanted everything for a dime. Of course, the worst of the junk was all that was left by the end of the day, so I pulled out boxes I had accumulated and told everyone to fill a box with all that would fit and it was a $1 minimum donation per box. Some people gave $5 and $10 since it was for a charity. End result? $600 raised for a deserving nonprofit and only two bins of mostly broken/mismatched items left to dispose of.

      Our charity:

  5. HalOfBorg says:

    Plastic bags – like from grocery store. People just LOVE it when you can make it easier for them.

    We collect the toys from kids meals during the year (unopened ones) and put those in a box labeled “Kids – Free. Take ONE.” Mom is usually very happy that the little one can get something for FREE.

    The bigger your sale is, the more you need someone to just stand off to the side and watch things when it gets busy. We lost a nice collection of Star Wars toys to someone when it got too bust once.

    A place to plug in and demo electronics. People like to know it works.

  6. MelloBeth says:

    Have your yard sale around the first of the month. Older people get their SSI, the folks on welfare get their money as well, and that’s a popular time to throw a yard sale around here.

    Price reasonably and don’t expect to get exactly what you put on it. Be willing to negotiate. That said, you can also price things a tad higher than your target price.

    If you’re going to the sale:

    Carry your own smaller bills and coins, it will be easier if the seller doesn’t have spare change.

    Don’t gaum up the road by parking like an idiot.

    Be willing to negotiate, but don’t insult the seller. Also, chat up the seller as you’re walking around their things, that creates some friendliness and people are more willing to bargain.

    My husband and I have a strategy…we tag team the bargaining. Here’s an example: In April a seller had a breadmaker marked at 10 bucks, I asked what they’d be willing to go to, the seller said 8. I looked at my husband, he says “I think we shouldn’t spend more than 7.” Bam. Breadmaker for 7 bucks.

    On the other hand? He found an N64 at a garage sale with a couple controllers and a pile of games (mostly sports, the only two good ones were Ocarina of Time and Mario). It was at 30 bucks. He says “Will you take any less for this?” The guy says “25.” And I say “I dunno, [husband]. We just bought such and such.” The guy says “How about 20?” Bam. N64 for 20 bucks.

    • Happy Tinfoil Cat says:

      Garage sales are all about bargaining but I have seen many times when one buyer is trying to low-ball the seller and then a 3rd party walks up and interjects, “I’ll pay the full $20”. “SOLD”

  7. Dallas_shopper says:

    Around here the vast majority of people hitting the garage sales are Latino, and they usually hit them up on Saturday mornings between 7-9am. They make a beeline for clothing, toys, and baby items and pretty much ignore everything else.

    I have none of that to sell, so I’m better off de-cluttering by donating to charity. At least that way I get a tax writeoff, and I don’t have to deal with holding an actual yard sale.

    • Dallas_shopper says:

      Forgot to add…around here if you are serious about holding garage sales, you either need to learn Spanish or invest in a good Spanish/English dictionary. That’s why I mentioned that the main demographic is Latino.

      Knowing Spanish helps. Just sayin’.

      • marillion says:

        This… Although a basic knowledge of numbers in Spanish is usually enough.. When you hear someone say “Quantos?”, that means “How much?”…

        Here in Albuquerque, we get a lot of folks who literally load up their trucks every saturday and then take the stuff back down across the border to resell it. It’s comical, and frankly a little scary to see these trucks packed WAY beyond capacity driving through the neighborhoods.

        • Dallas_shopper says:

          Hehe…I think here the people buying the stuff are the ones using it, since Dallas is a bit far from the border to trek all the way down there in one day. It’d probably take you all day just to get to the border from here.

          Even though most of the non-English speaking Latinos around here are likely illegal, I can’t fault them for being thrifty. They know how to squeeze a penny, and I’m all in favor of reusing/recycling things. So kudos to them.

          I just don’t have anything to sell that they’d want to buy…so no yard sales for me. Around here if you don’t cater to them, you might as well not bother as they’re the main demographic going to garage sales.

        • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDave‚Ñ¢ says:

          We have that around me, but it’s Haitians. They buy clothes and stuff, and from what I understand, they load up a shipping container, and sail it down there. They are brutal to the sellers though, and typically try to talk them down to prices that would require the seller to be clinically insane.

          • Rachacha says:

            We were selling some old computers for one of our employers. We had done our research, and on E-bay, they were selling for about $150 for the CPU, monitor and cables. We decided to sell them for $125 but were willing to negotiatedown to $100, below that, it would have been better to donate them and take the tax deduction. We had a Haitian couple come in and want to buy about 20 of them, and we said the lowest we could go was $100.. “How about $50each?” We can’t (explaining E-bay and the tax deduction). The couple then had to consult with their friend, and they had to wait for the friend to show up, then a second round of negotiations , and they said they were worth nothing so $25 each. We held our ground and they bought 25 of them for $100, but it was the longest 2.5 hours of my life.

            • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDave‚Ñ¢ says:

              I know that “these are worth nothing” or “these are no good” arguments. It really pisses off the vendors at my local flea.

  8. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    DON’T use hot pink lettering on bright green paper.

    • dru_zod says:

      I would add to this: put some effort into making the signs. It doesn’t have to be much effort. Most of the yard sale signs I see around here are written on pieces of brown cardboard using a ball-point pen. You can barely read them from 2 feet away and most certainly not when you’re driving at 50 mph. A lot of them look like the words were scribbled out by a 5-year-old as well. How hard is it to get some white poster board and write on it legibly with thicker permanent markers?

  9. Marlin says:

    Get with neighbors and have 1 LARGE sale. Smaller ones seem depressing. Like someone having maybe 10-20 things out in their driveway.

    More stuff more buyers.

    Did this when I was younger. Whole yard was full from people getting together to sell. At the end of the day we had goodwill come get what did not sell.
    Funny thing is I made more money than most. Was selling my He-Man stuff right before it fully went out of style.

    • belanos says:

      This is so true. If you have a couple of blankets on your lawn with baby shoes, old bras and various lego pieces, people will just drive on by. Why bother.

  10. Karney says:

    Yard sales in my community don’t really need good advertising or an incentive to go. During the summer there is a town-wide yard sale day, and i would say 33% of the people have sales in their driveway on this day. Interesting day to drive around and check stuff out. I even sneak away with a good deal from time to time.

    • hoi-polloi says:

      I was going to mention this. Get in on community yard sales. If there isn’t one in your neighborhood, see if there are any where family members/friends live. This can help them fill up the space and add diversity. My brother and his wife did better than the rest of us when they hauled a bunch if stuff to the sale in my parent’s neighborhood. This may not work if you’re trying to sell a lot of furniture, but for clothes, toys, and other small items it can work well.

    • Outrun1986 says:

      Good for the seller, bad for the buyer, the buyers have hit these community sales as soon as they open if you are the seller then you need to be ready early to move your stuff. Better be there before setup time if you are the buyer and if you want anything good. Also if it rains its a washout, happened to the community sale here last year. If the same neighborhood has a community sale every year forget it if you are the buyer, you won’t get anything good, it was likely cleaned out of good stuff many years ago.

      Community sale says to me, buyers putting out the same stuff year after year trying to sell it for overpriced prices while the items are devaluing every year. Which is what I have seen based on the community sales I have been to.

  11. quail says:

    Make an area in your home to collect your yard sale items a good 30 days before the event. Clean your house and consider what you’re putting in the sale. Decent electronics and the like, put on Craigslist before the sale. If you can sell it before the event, then great! Stuff that doesn’t sell during the garage sale, consider putting on Craigslist again.

    Stuff that people at the yard sale tried to low ball me on I usually would unload on Craigslist for my asking price. Stuff that didn’t move, I’d take to a donation center. If you are writing off the donation you need proof of the value of the item. Go to eBay and get a snapshot of what people have been paying for that item, unfortunately this does mean you need an eBay account. If you don’t itemize your taxes, then you don’t have to do this step. Just do the standard deduction & you’re golden.

  12. RiverStyX says:

    List it on Backpage, craigslist is and will always be a no-no. You don’t want those losers showing up to stare at your things for 20 minutes then lowball you by 50%. Think of the “Time Is Money” concept, you’ll be wasting lots of both by telling those douchebags about your yard sale.

    My only peeve is people who put up signs all over town and dont ever think of taking them down once it’s over. Seriously, we can see signs that are 2 months old still floating around the telephone poles, and they all say “This Saturday”.

    • MrMagoo is usually sarcastic says:

      In my town it’s illegal to post your own signs – you have to get a permit, and you are provided with a small sign to put in your yard. You’re supposed to get an ad in the paper so that people can know you’re having a sale. It’s quite a racket for the paper, whose owners of course are on the city council, which passed the ordinance (law?)

      Of course, pretty much everyone ignores the law, but some Saturdays the city drives a truck around and pulls all the signs it finds. When you see the steady stream of people suddenly dry up, you know it’s time to go replace your signs.

  13. Gravitational Eddy says:

    As others here have said, BE WILLING TO NEGOTIATE DOWNWARD.
    It’s not like you want to keep this stuff, right?

    My last yard sale was a huge success. We have lots of apartments near where I am and a whole lot of these are populated by people who can’t pay huge prices for things but they can pay a percentage (sometimes a large percentage) of what the new retail price is.
    I sold an entertainment center for $40 (new $200) and to sweeten the deal, threw in the 27″ TV that used to sit in it. (The TV was fine, just not usable anymore, thanks uncle Sam for getting rid of all those analog channels!). I already had a bigscreen tv and satelite dish that replaced it. There was nearly a fight between two buyers when they saw the Buy one-get this for free sign…
    Don’t even try to price all those VHS tapes you found, put them all in a box and sell it as a package for $10. VHS tapes are nearly worthless now that DVD’s are here.
    magazines and books, price ’em to move…5 cents each, $2 for the box… the idea is to get it to move.

    Overpriced stuff will remain in your possession forever.
    I once saw a lady with a pristine IBM desktop from the ’80s that had cost them a huge amount of money
    (I looked it up later, OEM retail was over $13 thousand from the IBM dealer)
    and she wouldn’t negotiate a penny under $1000…
    this was at a time when brand -new- state of the art PC desktops were similar price.
    (Intel Pentium’s were about $800 then)
    As I left her yard sale, I wondered how long it would take before she was willing to deal.
    It was all I could do to not insult her by telling her what the -real- worth of her 8088 DOS based desktop was. I’d like to believe someone took it off her hands, but I didn’t see any IBM museum-type people wandering around looking for really old hardware.

    And the final tip:
    If you live on a busy street, OK. If you live on a back street, use signage with big letters and high contrast printing. Put a huge sign up on a step ladder with signs and balloons out on the end of the driveway.

  14. dolemite says:

    My mom had a big yard sale last summer. She put it in the paper, and I put it on Craigslist. Very few people showed though, although she had a lot of decent items.

    One outstanding bit: a couple of ladies were buying a few items. So one lady was getting about 8 shirts for about $10, but as my mom was ringing her up, she tried to hide another shirt. After they left, we realized she had stolen a pair of earrings that my mom was asking like $2 for.

    Pretty insane that people would steal when prices are like .50, $1, $2.

  15. Happy Tinfoil Cat says:

    When I was young and poor, my parents made a living doing yard sales. They’d buy stuff at garage sales and sell it for a profit in their own. We could probably write a how-to book.

  16. hoi-polloi says:

    Someone mentioned respecting your neighbors. If you live in an apartment, please let other tenants know you’re having a yard sale well in advance, and remind them the day before. It’s going to inconvenience them, and they’re going to be really confused when people start banging on the front door, ringing all the door bells, and asking about a yard sale early on a Saturday. I still shake my head when I think about that one, and that must have been 18 years ago.

  17. Outrun1986 says:

    Yard sales are particularly bad here, no one really buys from them. I have done it enough to know and have been on both the buying and selling end. It is good to shop yard sales because people have a large quantity of junk to sell for cheap, however if you are the seller you will never get rid of everything and it just becomes a lot of work.

    A lot of it has to do with the reliance on EBT cards in my area, the poor that can only afford yard sale prices only have EBT cards which yard sales do not take. They would rather go to walmart because they take EBT cards. A lot of people do not have a car to drive around to different houses on side streets and gas money to afford to travel to the yard sales.

    For me I am better off selling my items on ebay and shipping them out, I am selling to an international audience (I ship internationally). Even if I make only a few dollars per item it is much better than putting it all out on my front lawn and having nothing sell. I have done the yard sale and its a lot of work, ebay is a lot of work too but I find it easier to ship the items out, the item sells it is out of my sight. The items that don’t sell I donate. I don’t have to put it all out on my lawn, waste a whole day of sitting on my lawn then pack it all up when I am done because nothing is going to sell. I also don’t have to clean my whole house at once, put it all in a giant pile somewhere in my house (I don’t have a place to have a large pile of junk sit for 30 days) and then haul it out at 5 or 6 am in the morning so I can be ready for the buyers.

    A yard sale might work if you have large items, furniture and appliances that cannot be shipped, people look for those things around here and decent furniture is a big seller at yard sales around here. If you have these things put an ad on craigslist for the item and say the item is available for viewing at the yard sale, set up your yard sale as normal, its almost guaranteed to sell.

    People here only want the cheapest of items, most people don’t have more than $10-15 in their wallet at any time so you have to work with that. If you have items worth more than that put them on craigslist in a separate ad as I described above. If you have nice, usable electronics put them on ebay immediately for full ebay value, no one will pay more than $10 for anything here. Most people will buy your 25 cent and 50 cent items, and they will want a price reduction on those. You can group your items together like 5/$1.00 VHS tapes or 25 cents each, that is the pricing I used at my previous yard sales and I was successful with selling the small items. I also talk to the buyers to try and get them to buy a few other things for a small amount of money, try to suggest to them another item they may like from the sale based on what they are buying, this helps to get rid of stuff and people usually don’t mind spending a few more cents on items.

  18. JGKojak says:

    Remember time is money, and you’re wasting your time if you spend 18 hours pricing/arranging everything.

    Pick a few key price points and put items out on tables/blankets that are all that price (i.e. $1 table, .50 bucket, etc) – that way, no labeling. All CDs $1. etc.

    Obviously, its worth it to individually label the large items in the sale (bookshelf $10).

    Also… if you have electronics that don’t sell for your asking price, take them down to the local pawn shop and see what you get. You’d be surprised.

  19. HoJu says:

    I post this tirade on Craigslist every now and then:

    As a “professional yard sal’er” I’d like to give you a few tips when advertising your yard sale:

    1) Put specific times in your Craigslist posting, specifically START times. If you decide to postpone or cancel, PLEASE take down any signs and craigslist postings.

    2) Starting at 9:00 is too late, particularly if your neighbors (anywhere near you) are having a yard sale that starts earlier. We will be there earlier and not likely come back just for you.

    2A) DO NOT overstate your yard sale in your posting. You will have many people simply turn away without even looking at the stuff you have if you say you have more than you do. Also, if you aren’t an antiques dealer or an auctioneer, you are NOT having an “estate sale” no matter how awesome you think your stuff is.

    The rest are SIGN POSTING related:

    3) There is a VERY good chance that we don’t know where your back road is located. Simply putting your street name on a sign doesn’t help.

    4) WRITE BIG! WRITE BIG! WRITE BIG! We have MAYBE 2 seconds worth of driving-by time to read your sign. WRITE BIG!

    5) NEVER post signs for any other day than the weekend coming up. For instance. This is the weekend of the 2nd and people are posting signs for the weekend of the 9th or beyond. That is POINTLESS.

    6) When you’re done, REMOVE ALL YOUR SIGNS. This should be ridiculously obvious.

    7) Here is what should be on a sign: “YARD SALE,” The DAY, the times, AN ARROW, the street name and if it’s not far from the sign also add the main road that it is off of. WRITE BIG and LEGIBLY!!

    8) DON’T write random crap on your sign like what you’re selling or where the proceeds are going. We don’t have time to read it when driving at 30MPH and slowing down causes traffic problems.

    9) If you must use paper signs (cardboard is best) figure out a way of framing the sign so it doesn’t curl up or roll up and become worthless. It WILL roll up while stapled to the post.

    Proper signage and postings will make for happy shoppers and eliminate unwanted traffic through your neighborhood.

  20. belanos says:

    SIGNS!! omg people are stupid when it comes to making signs. If you put up a sign hastily written with a ball point pen, NO one will be able to read it. And if you write a freakin’ novel…NO one will read it. Keep it simple….take some time …and make the letters big and clear.

    • Whiskey Tango Foxtrot says:

      I 2nd this – the bigger the better, and what I like to do is go around where my signs are in the morning and tie balloons to them (I make my own signs with corrugated plastic on stakes) so they are VERY noticable. I’ve repeatedly had people tell me that they came because my signs caught their attention and they made getting to my street a dream (I use one on each cornern with arrows, I don’t just depend on ONE sign on the main thoroughfare, and expect everybody to know the neighborhood back roads.)

      I also advertise in the local newspaper (free!) and the local buy/sell websites. Always a good turnout, and I always let them run until 3 or 4pm – I hate how so many people have weekend garage sales that end at 11am or noon – I made a good percentage of money in the later afternoon :)

  21. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    Lots of readable signs to drive traffic to your sale. At local intersections and down to the main thoroughfare. Make the lettering large and thick enough to be seen by traffic. I see to many unreadable signs that use a ball point pen or thin marker.

    No way I’d put out snacks. Free (my dime? no way) or for purchase. Customers don’t “make a day of it”. They may make a morning of it rushing from sale to sale before the good stuff disappears. Once noon hits you’ll see way less traffic.

    Start early. Serious buyers are out before 8am.

  22. HogwartsProfessor says:

    I had lots of good stuff this sale and almost none of it sold. I only made about $90 (better than last time where I only did $75) but I could have gotten more if people weren’t so poor right now.

    Most of the leftovers are going to be donated as soon as the weather warms up. I don’t want to haul stuff when it’s this cold. I’m going to try one more time to sell some of the good stuff on Craigslist, etc. If all else fails, I’ll freecycle, as I’m trying to empty out my house somewhat.

  23. Outrun1986 says:

    I agree about signs, if its not a clear sign, then I probably won’t stop because I can’t read it. Also dates need to be on the sign, I have no idea if every sign up is for the coming weekend or not.

    Especially over here where newspaper ads cost $25 or more each for just a yard sale ad, a lot of people just put their stuff out and put up a sign, since its very costly for the ad. If I am putting the ad in the paper I am gonna have a few hundred dollars worth of items on my lawn or else I am not using the paper.

    If you have a yard sale in the back of your house and people have to park in front you need a sign on your house too to tell us where the sale is. If I am driving by houses and see no signs of a sale I am not walking into someone’s yard and getting embarrassed because there is no sale.

    If you live in a hard to find area or a backroad POST DIRECTIONS in your ad, especially if its a craigslist ad, you have plenty of room for this. I have missed PLENTY of yard sales because I couldn’t find your house. You may not think your house is hard to find but it is for someone who has never been there before. Google maps doesn’t always work perfectly. Also if there are 2 similarly named streets nearby you might want to post a note telling saying my yard sale is on street x, not street y. This doesn’t happen often but I ran into it last year and almost missed a sale.

    When you are driving around be careful!! The cops will catch you if you do something illegal, ran into this last year and saw someone pulled over for making an illegal turn to get to a yard sale faster. Not only will you lose time if this happens the cost of the ticket will kill any profit you have made from finding items and reselling them.

    Finally, your CRT TV from the 1980’s is NOT worth $20 or more… its worth about $5 if you can even get someone to take it off your hands for that price, don’t beg me to buy your overpriced TV. If you grossly overprice stuff that has no value on the market I will be secretly wishing for you to have to haul that beast back into the house at the end of the sale. I have had so many people beg me to buy TV’s its not even funny. Same with computer monitors, a commodore monitor is not worth $20 or more….neither is your random CRT monitor that shows up at almost every single sale with an inflated price tag on it.

  24. Szleegs says:

    This information is timely and relevant for my Winter Wonderland Yard Sale.


  25. Rachacha says:

    One of the best yard sales we had was shortly before I got married. My Fiancee and I were combining households and had a lot of duplicate items. We did NO advertising, and just set up shop along a busy road that had a nice sidestreet for parking. We started setting things up at 6:30am for a 7:00 start, and people were stopping by to check out our wares, even offering to help us carry stuff out of the house several hundred feet away so they could look at the sale items. By noon, everything had sold, and we had an extra $500 in cash.

  26. amuro98 says:

    Snacks?!? I’ve never seen a garage sale that had snacks. Most folks make less than $50 from a garage sale. Why spend money putting out snacks for that small amount?

    My wife and I have done a couple of garage sales a year for the past 5 years. Unfortunately the more we get rid of, the more her parents bring over…

    The list needs some amending:

    * Know what sells, and what doesn’t. Tools, DVDs, video games (especially ones for current systems), small appliances, small furniture and electronics sell the best. Clothing, kitchen stuff, might sell a little but don’t hold your breath. Same with baby stuff and toys. Books and tchachki’s – don’t even bother. You can try selling larger ticket items (like a bedroom set) but if you don’t get the price you want, just put it on Craigslist separately afterwards.

    * When you advertise on Craigslist, be sure to mention your good items – tools, aquarium stuff (fish fans are always looking for more stuff), etc.

    * Remember: The goal of the garage sale is to get rid of stuff, not make a profit! Unless you have a bunch of high quality, high demand stuff, you just aren’t going to make as much money doing a garage sale as you would spending a day at your normal job. You just aren’t. Personally, if we get rid of 50 cubic feet of stuff and make enough cash to buy us dinner at Black Angus that night, I call that a successful garage sale.

    We also have a “free” area with assorted odds and ends we can’t sell, boxes, and miscellaneous toys. At the end of the day, we sort everything into a Goodwill and Free pile. The Free pile is usually gone before Monday.

  27. failurate says:

    Holy crap! Did I sleep through winter?

  28. SenorAnderson says:

    Collect your signs after your sale!

  29. Hawkeye says:

    Every year my parents participate in their neighborhood yard sale, and every year it gets more depressing.
    Aside from the folks who want everything for a buck, the professionals – who cruise the yard sales for stuff they can sell at their table at one of the local flea market are the ones who bug me.

    They show up before you’ve finished setting up (no early birds? Ha!) always looking for something you don’t have (a lot of them ask for musical instruments) and always tell you your stuff is under priced (“believe me, I know” is a popular phrase with them) but if they see something they want – of course that item is way overpriced and they’ll be glad to take it off your hands for a tenth of what you want it for.

    • Happy Tinfoil Cat says:

      My parents were ‘pro garage sailors’ and we saw a lot of the nasty people pulling crap like that. The nasty ones have sob stories about why they have to be in your business and hour before you open. It’s just to cherry pick as many sales as they can before anyone else. It is wise not to sell to the early birds because others will pay full price.

      Another trick these nasty people pull is buying a couch set or something and taking a single piece. They return after you are done and then go to work trying to get your price down.

      One that always pissed me off is the ones that talk people into re-selling the item to them. When you come back with the truck and the seller says, “Sorry, someone offered more. Here’s your money back.”

      My parents were always upfront and honest with people and it helps out a lot. Most the nasty people are … well, nasty.

  30. backinpgh says:

    Why is this relevant right now? lol

    Make sure your signs are VISIBLE from the street! Especially if you live in a high traffic area, you can get a lot of “walk-ins” with good signs hung at main intersections.