Monday, May 23, 2011

Monday Motivation: How To Have An Awesome Yard Sale

If you've been following Monday Motivation this year, you've already cleaned out several areas of your home and may have a pile of donations or yard sale items waiting for you.  As yard sale season is starting up, I thought it might be a good idea to look at ideas and tips to make your next yard sale a spectacular one. 

What to do a month before the yard sale:
     1.  Pick a date.  Make sure there are no large community events happening to sidetrack potential customers.  Also try to pick a date near payday.  Here in a large military area, it's the 1st and the 15th.

     2.  Look through every nook and cranny in your home for things to sell.  Don't forget the attic, basement, garage, shed, cars, and yard. 

     3.  Take the time to make sure all items are clean.  A clean item is more likely to sell and to sell for more money when it looks nice.  If you have the original box and or paperwork for the item, be sure to sell them together.  As you check over your items, sort them by category to make pricing and setting up go smoother.  Clothing together, toys, purses etc. 

     4.  Check to see if your city/town requires a permit and get one.  At the same time, check to see what the rules are for signs and parking.  Your neighborhood might have guidelines to follow, as well.

     5.  Make signs.  Decide where you will place your signs and make them ahead of time.  A simple sign that says  "Yard Sale" with an arrow and the time of the sale is usually enough.  If your street is really long, make several signs for customers to follow so they don't give up half way down your street and turn around. 

     6.  Pricing is important.  There are several ways you can price items.  I generally price individual items except for items I have a lot of.  For instance, I price house goods individually but price books as $1.00 for hardcover and  $.50 for paperback.  I price furniture individually but clothing at $1.00 and coats $3.00.   I simply make signs for the large groups of items.  Most people who are buying books and clothes will buy a lot and haggle anyway.  Some people never price their items and just wait for customers to ask or offer a price.  As a yard sale shopper, I prefer to see a price but that's just me being a visual person.

     7.  Advertise your sale.  Post your sale on Craigslist,  put it in the local paper, post it on bulletin boards, and tell everyone you know. 

     8.  Get change.  Don't put this step off until the day of the sale.  Your sale will start with a bang and you'll be looking like a deer in headlights if you don't have bills and coins to make change.  I usually start off with $30.00-$40.00 in ones, fives, and quarters (I don't price anything lower than $.25)  If you're selling larger items like furniture and appliances, you might want to have even more change.  Decide how you'll keep track of your money and how you'll keep it safe (more about that later).

The day of the sale:

     1.  Have your supplies together.  I like to have a tape measure, calculator, extension cords and batteries to help customers.  Also have bags and newspaper to wrap up fragile items.  I also like to have scissors, markers, and extra price tags available. 

     2.  Place items where your customers can see them.  Place large eye catching items near the street to get people out of their cars.  If you have a lot of furniture, set it up like a room in your house, including flowers on the table. 

     3.  Keep your money safe.  I use a waiter's apron with large pockets to hold my money.  Every hour or so I take out the large bills and put them in my house for safe keeping.  If you have a dedicated area where customers pay for their purchases, you can keep a cash box there as long as it is ALWAYS with someone.  Never leave it unattended.

     4.  Use any horizontal surface you can find to display your items.  Turn boxes upside down, lay boards over saw horses, drag the patio table around to the front yard, or use your coffee table from the family room.  If you are using an item you don't want to sell, cover it with drop clothes or sheets to hide it from view.  I could have sold my kitchen table many times over the years had I not covered it up.  One customer even lifted up the sheet I was using because she saw the carved leg peeking out - smart woman - I would have asked too.

     5.  If you can, hang clothing up.  It's so much easier to see and customers feel like they're shopping in a store and not on your lawn.  In the past I've used two ladders, set feet apart,  with a pole strapped to the top of  them.  Worked like a charm. 

     6.  Put up your signs right before your sale unless you want "early birds" to show up 2 hours before your sale and mess up your piles.  These are people who shop at yard sales to resell items they've purchased.  I don't tolerate "early birds" but it's your call.

     7.  Place balloons or something eye catching on your mailbox so your sale can be seen by people as they drive down the street.

     8.  If your children will be "helping" you the day of their yard sale, let them have their own sale.  Allow them to sell their own toys and keep the money.  Or, if not, let them sell drinks, lemonade, and/or bagged snacks.  They can practice their math and entrepreneurial skills.

After the sale:

     1.  Pack up all items and take to your local thrift store.  Our family rule is that once it's out in the driveway, it doesn't go back in the house.  The only exceptions are those items that someone has asked you to hold for them to pick up later.

     2.  Be a good neighbor and pick up your signs. 

     3.  Count your money and smile because you just cleaned out and cleaned up!

Other tips:

     1.  I like to make sure I have 1 or 2 adult or teen helpers to help me during the sale.  Shoppers need help loading cars and carrying things.  Also, you'll have to take a bathroom break at some point!

     2.  Plan ahead for your meals for the day.  Have sandwiches made ahead of time and throw something in the crock pot or plan to eat dinner out after your long day. 


  1. I have never had a garage sale because it's too much work - I just haul everything to the thrift store!

  2. These are really good ideas. I think I have tried to start gathering things the weekend before the yard sale and ran out of time...a month sounds much better. Also, I go crazy putting prices on everything. I think the signs you suggest are a good idea, too! Thanks for this post! I'll let you know how it goes. DH has already said he will not contribute anything to the yard sale, so it will just be me!



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