Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Simple Tips for a Successful Yard Sale {Part One}

As I mentioned in Monday’s post, I hosted a yard sale at my house last weekend, along with my mom, my sister, my aunt, and a couple from our church.  I made about $245, and that’s without selling any large pieces of furniture or electronics.  (To give you a better picture: the most expensive item I sold was $8; every other item besides that was $5 or less.)

I go to yard sales about every Saturday, so I’d estimate that over my 26 years (yup, my Mom hauled us to yard sales as kids), I’ve been to well over 1,000 yard sales in my day.  As an adult, I’ve done three of my own now in addition to selling at a local flea market (which is similar but also a lot different).  So, I think it’s safe to say that I’m pretty knowledgeable about what makes them work and what makes them doesn’t. 

Here are my top ideas for having your own successful sale – and please be sure to share with me at the bottom….because odds are I’ll be doing this again many times in my future. ;)

1.  Advertise, and do it well.  
  Imagine for a minute that you’re in your car.  What’s going to grab your attention more easily: an 8.5x11 sign with teeny-tiny directions on it, or a brightly colored poster with big letters telling you which way to go?  Sounds obvious, but I can’t tell you how many people place those standard “garage sale” signs around town and expect that people zooming by will be able to squint their eyes well enough to read the itty-bitty directions. 

See what I mean?  Can you read anything on the right?!

{via and via}                                                       

  Use a bright colored paper, and cut the crap. ;)  I bought giant yellow poster-boards ($3 for 6 at the Dollar Tree), cut them in fourths, and put them on a bunch of telephone poles…WITH ARROWS.  (I learned the hard way that making them too big only makes the ends flap over and then no one can read what it says.)  I also put a bunch of smaller posters on stakes that simply had an arrow on them to point people in the right direction.  Being consistent with the color is key…it was so helpful to be able to write on my Craigslist ad, “Follow the yellow signs!” 

  Which leads me to another point… advertising in the paper is fine, but a lot of people don’t get the newspaper anymore (and I can’t access our local paper’s classifieds online).  So Craigslist is a great choice (it’s how I find a lot of yard sales now!).  Place an ad for free, be detailed, and please, for the love, use good grammar and spell-check!  :) 


2. Decide what’s more important to you: an empty house, or money in your pocket.

  I can’t stand it when I go to yard sales and people try to convince me of the worth of their item.  I always want to say, “If it’s so wonderful, why aren’t you keeping it yourself???!”  You’re having a yard sale to get rid of items that you no longer want; be at least a little flexible when it comes to negotiating. 

  At the end of the day, all of that stuff in your driveway has to go SOMEWHERE.  Now, if you’re like me, there are a few things you’re not going to go rock-bottom on.  For instance, I sold some clothes last week, but not everything.  I know that I can bring them to my local consignment shop and attempt to get money from them there…which is why they weren’t offered at 25 cents a piece or placed for free at the end of my sale.  Same goes for an in-the-box kitchen vent we were trying to sell for $20…odds are that someone on Craigslist will want it for $50, since we bought it for $100. 

  So there might be a few things that are important enough for you to try “round two” on, but the rest…well, be willing to part with it.


3.  Have your items priced before you open.

  Some people love to haggle, but most people don’t.  Personally, I hate asking the owner about each and every item I hold up – it gets really old, really fast.  Pricing things allows people to know immediately if it’s in their affordable range. (And interestingly, people are less likely to haggle when the price is on the item.  I’m not sure why, but it’s true!) 


  Another benefit to pre-pricing is that when you have a few people waiting on you to “check-out” (and that happened to us, off and on, all morning), you can zip through the payment rather than having to negotiate each and every item with all the buyers.  Ugh.  That makes my head hurt just thinking about it! :)

  Pricing everything most certainly does not mean that you need to put a price tag on everything.  Get some old boxes, fill them with like items, and take a sharpie to them:  Books 50 cents, Frames $1, Kitchen Plastics 25 cents, etc.  You can even set a little sign on a table describing what each item is worth. (I did this with my lamps table:  I made one sign that said, “Lamp bases, $4; Shades $1.”)  Doing stuff like this is waaay easier than having to make a sticker for each individual item!

  Oh, and another tip:  don’t price anything for less than a quarter.  Trust me on this.  It’s not worth your aggravation, or your customers’.  If you truly think it’s worth less than a quarter, just mark it as free. 


4.  Use tables, if possible.

vacation and garage sale 041

{you can click to enlarge!}

   I was very lucky that my parents’ church was only a few miles away, and we were able to use all of their folding tables for free.  You might not be in that position, but try to be creative in getting things off the ground.  Use drying racks, boxes turned over, kitchen benches or chairs, plywood over sawhorses…anything you can think of to get products up!  A lot of people don’t like to bend over to reach things, and I’ve noticed that my stuff within easy reach always sells a lot well than those that I’ve had to place on the ground because I simply ran out of room.


5.  Be organized.

  This ties in with number 4, but it’s really important to be organized.  People enjoy looking at things with visual cohesion  - it’s just human nature.  So if you have 15 Christmas items, place them in a group, not scattered throughout your sale.  Same goes for baskets, or books, or frames.  You’re more likely to make more money that way, since the person looking for Christmas items will most likely be interested in more than one item that you have. 

  vacation and garage sale 040
{click to enlarge}

6.  Place baby items somewhat close to the road.

  I realize that at first glace that might seem odd, but hear me out.  On the rare occasions that I yard sale with Luke, I am very selective about which ones I actually get out at.  Why?  Because each stop means unbuckling him and lugging his chunky little self out of the car.  So when I’m on the lookout for baby clothes (which I usually always am) and I see boxes of infant clothing or kids’ games out front, it’s a good clue that there’s going to be something there for me, and that it’s going to be worth my time to get him out.  Just something to think about if you’re trying to get rid of kid stuff. 

Whew, well that went even longer than I thought!  Come back tomorrow for Part 2 – and PLEASE share your feedback with me below!  I’ll probably do some kind of yard sale every year or every other year and I am always looking to do it better than I did before. 


Oh and one last thing: Darlene is hosting another giveaway on her scrapbooking blog!  All you have to do is comment on this post and follow her blog to get a chance to win Echo Park’s newest release, “Country Drive.”  So hop on over! :)


Linked to:

Works for Me Wednesday


  1. Love a yard sale. PICKY about which ones I stop by...but when I look at the things I have bought at sales over the years? Makes me SO HAPPY! I love to have a sale too...but sometimes it is for the social AS WELL AS for the cash! ;)

    I have recently discovered the beauty of estate sales. OH YES!

  2. Oooh, me too, Jill! You can get some one-of-a-kind pieces there!


I'd love to hear from you! Comments make my day! :) I generally respond to comments right here on my blog. If you have a more specific question for me, you are always welcome to e-mail me at blessedlifeblog{at}gmail{dot}com.