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Here’s how to have a yard sale that will get you top dollar for that stuff you don’t want anymore. One of my favorite ways to make some extra money is by having a yard sale. But not just a little table with a small assortment of items on it – I’m talking about a yard sale of epic proportions.
I’ve had sales that made more than a thousand bucks before when I was paring down to move.
How to have a yard sale and make bank
Below are 10 things you can do to make your next yard sale one for the record books.
- Set up for rain or shine. If at all possible, plan how to have a yard sale in the house or garage. We have previously used our front room for yard sales and blocked off the doorways to other rooms. We moved everything out of the room that we weren’t selling aside from “surfaces” like tables and shelves. Setting up indoors has two major benefits: the weather doesn’t matter, and you don’t have to tear down and set up again the next morning if you’re running the sale for a couple of days.
- Choose a time when folks will be around. Having a sale on a holiday weekend can sometimes be a big flop, especially if it is a major holiday like Easter or Thanksgiving. On the other hand, if the weekend is a 3-day weekend like Memorial Day weekend, you may do very well, especially if you are on the road to the beach.
- Price EVERYTHING. Nothing is more annoying to yard sale shoppers than having to ask about the price of multiple items. Make sure all your prices are marked clearly. Often, a shopper will expect a larger item to be far more expensive than you’ve priced it at, which means you may miss out on sales if you haven’t marked the items. Use masking tape or by price stickers at the dollar store – I prefer the brightly colored ones that are easy to spot.
- Color-coordinate your signs. One trick to help people find your sale is to make all your signs look similar. When we had a previous sale, we lived down a long, curvy country road. We made arrows with black Sharpie on neon green poster board to help people find us. You can also tie balloons to your signs to catch people’s eyes.
- Make lots of signs. We put an arrow at every curve or possible turn so they’d know where to go. You can put things like “Keep going” and “Almost there” and “just another half mile” for added encouragement. Don’t just stick a sign at a stoplight with your address on it and expect people to make it to your sale. You need a sign facing all directions at major intersections and at the top of your street.
- Put advertisements wherever local yard-salers look to plan their weekend routes. That can mean a local newspaper, the bulletin board at the grocery store, or the yard sale ads on Craigslist and your local Facebook groups. For the online ads, be sure to post pictures of some of the prime goodies that you’re offering.
- Decide if you’ll sell stuff early. When you are deciding how to have a yard sale, there is one important decision to make ahead of time. Be prepared for people to contact you before the sale for larger items like furniture once you have advertised online. DO NOT AGREE TO HOLD ITEMS until you have the cash in hand. If you want, you can usually get full price by agreeing to let people come and take a look ahead of the sale. I often list the large or expensive items individually to try and sell them before including them in the yard sale.
- Have plenty of change. The night before the sale, grab quarters, ones, fives, and tens. If you can, try to keep $300 in change on hand so you can break large bills early in the morning.
- Know where the closest ATM to your home is. If you have larger items, some folks may not have enough cash with them. Be ready to direct them to a nearby ATM, but beware of holding items for very long. How to have your yard sale be most successful is by getting rid of everything – you’d hate to hold something for someone who never returns and then have to drag the item back inside. Here’s an online ATM locator.
- Let the kids sell refreshments. My kids always did a refreshment stand when we had yard sales. We would pick up treats like cookies, Rice Krispy treats, and water bottles for them to sell so they could make a little money too. Especially if you live far away from the local coffee shop or fast food joints, people will be happy to grab a snack.
What are your tips for an epic yard sale?
There you go! Ten steps to the best yard sale you’ve ever had! I hope you make a fortune!
Do you hold yard sales? What is your advice to people wondering how to have a yard sale? Share your best advice in the comments.
3 thoughts on “How to Have a Yard Sale: 10 Steps to Make It EPIC”
If you will have any small high-value items (like jewelry, rare coins, pistols, etc) that would make a thief salivate, try to arrange for something like a glass-topped display case from which you or your helper must retrieve and replace items personally. Even Walmart uses such cases that way and for the same reasons.
Unless you only have a few large items, arrange to have at least one adult helper in addition to you. Small high-value items will be goners if you are working alone and have to 1) demo some equipment that needs powering up, 2) help a buyer load something large and heavy or 3) make a mandatory run to the restroom.
If you plan on selling some high value items either large or small, consider if you have the ability to recognize a counterfeit bill. Don’t assume that the holder of it can judge its legitimacy.
Before putting out signs a day (or some days) ahead of time, check your local town ordinances. Mine has an idiotic prohibition on setting out such signs until the very morning of the event which really cuts into the time you need to get your displays ready.
I save Vacation Bible School yard signs from our church and election campaign signs, including the metal stakes that go into the ground. They are easily converted into Yard Sale or Garage Sale signs. Either paint over the old messages or get some poster board (neon colors are especially eye catching!) and attach to the old sign surfaces. I re-use them year after year.
When my grandma passed away in the late 1990’s, our family had a huge sale in the driveway of my mom’s house. She advertised it in the local paper as an “Estate Sale” and included a short description of some of the more enticing items.
Mom specifically said “No early-birds” in the ad. Even so, she still had a couple people show up an hour early before we were set up.
(I think saying no early-birds must have created some excitement and brought them out!)
Many people will be on the lookout for cheap clothing; especially kids’ clothes, or brand-name labels. If you have more than a couple things to sell, consider renting a garment rack, found at some party-rental stores and storage units, and hanging the items neatly. It may be more likely a customer will slide a hanger on a rack than they will bother to dig through a box or piles on a table.
Of course, making sure the items are clean and wrinkle-free will also make the sale more likely. We sold most all of my grandma’s things this way; including a vintage fur stole in the summertime!
Another must-have on hand are bags. Simple reusable plastic bags will do. A shopper will be more likely to buy lots of little things like books, knick-knacks, and kitchen items if they don’t have to juggle them down the street.
To deter theft, it’s prudent to have one way in/out with someone at the check-out. This obviously is easier done if the sale is set up inside, but the same can be accomplished by only displaying heavy/bulky items in the driveway and keeping the smaller items in the garage where the shopper must pass you in order to leave. Set up your display tables as a way to funnel traffic, perhaps in a modified “V” formation with the exit at the bottom end where you can set up check-out.
I strongly suggest when a sale generates a large sum of cash, a trusted person should immediately take the money away out of sight. We took it into the house. Keeping a cash-box at checkout is a necessity, however it’s also a temptation for thieves when they see it bristling with stacks of cash. The cashbox can be refilled with change on an as-needed basis and shouldn’t contain more than what you’re willing to potentially lose.
Some savvy shoppers will scout your sale and come back at the last part of the day to scoop up items ultra cheap. If you have a lot of little items left, consider making $1 & $5 dollar “mystery bags” up. Many people will buy these just for fun. Labeling them as mystery toy, jewelry and kitchen item bags make it easier for customers to judge what to expect is inside. Hodge-Podge bags are fun, too.
Finally, please try to greet everyone with a smile when they come in, even at the end of the day!
It makes them feel not only welcome, but in a busy sale, they know who is running the show. We had six helpers at my grandma’s sale and we wore name tags, too.
Our sale generated thousands of dollars and spanned two full days. It was work, plain and simple, but worth it.