yard sale signsHaving a yard sale is a tried and true way to make a little extra money and get rid of excess stuff from your house that you haven't used for years, but they can seem like a big task if you haven't held a garage sale before.

Most first timers underestimate how much work goes into having one, and if very little money is made, the first is usually the last. But it doesn't have to be that way.  

I've held several successful yard sales, and rarely do I have anything left over.  I'll show you how.


It's very hard, if not impossible, to have a yard sale on a whim. You'll need give yourself at least a week to prepare, although the more time you have to prepare, the less headaches you'll have. Also check and see if there are any rules or restrictions on having one in your neighborhood. If you happen to see someone having a yard sale, just stop and ask them about their experience.  You'll make a new friend and who knows, you might find something you can't live without!  Stay focused.

  • Where And When To Have Your Yard Sale A lot of people have the sale at their home, but some set up on roadsides or in parking lots. If you plan on setting up any place other than your home, ask permission first or you may find yourself having to move. Most people usually have a yard sale on Thursday – Sunday. You can have yours for one day or all four days. Try to have one on a day where weather will be nice. Not too cold, not too hot, not much rain, etc. Having your yard sale on a holiday weekend is not a good idea. You'll definitely get less traffic.
  • Gather Your Merchandise You're going to have to have stuff to sale. The more the better (unless several people will be having the yard sale together at one time). Buy yourself some pricing stickers and a nice dark pen (Sharpie's work great) so you can price your things.
  • Pricing This is the area where first timers make the most mistakes. They price their items too high and, as a result, don't sell much. Most people who go to yard sales will not pay "like new" prices. As a general rule price items about a quarter of what they would cost new. If you don't want to price everything individually you can use signs (hats – 5 for $1). How you price depends on how fast you want your merchandise to move. If you want to get rid of everything you can without having another yard sale, then price your stuff low.
  • Tables Make sure you have access to tables, etc. to place your stuff on. You've got to be able to put your product on or in something to keep it dry. If you are having your yard sale out under the sky, you also need some plastic or some similar material to cover your stuff up. This will keep your stuff dry if it rains, and even if the weather man is giving no rain, still cover your stuff up overnight to prevent it getting wet because of dew. If you have clothes on hangers you can use a clothes rack or stretch some rope out to hang them on, just make sure you tie each end to some heavy or immovable objects.
  • Parking Spaces They may not be a lot you can do in this area, parking spaces may be limited. It's a good idea to at least think about it and clear areas for parking, if you can. If you can't, don't worry about it so much. People who come to yard sales will find a place to park. 
  • Have Change Use a money box and start the day with lots of $1 bills, quarters, dimes, and nickels. I recommend having at least $100 in change all together and in a place where you can reach it easily (just inside the door, etc.). Write down how much change you start with, that way you'll know how much you make at your yard sale.
  • Help Try to see if you can get some friends or family to help you on the day of your sale. You can do it by yourself, but to have at least one other to give you breaks will be a huge help. Don't wait until the day before to ask, either.
  • Promotion The next step is to advertise in your local newspaper (which will cost you little). Try to put it in the issue that will come out the day before your event. You can also try word of mouth, placing the ad online, or putting flyers on bulletin boards. You'll also need some signs. Some newspapers sell yard sale kits that come with signs, but you can also make your own.
  • Signs Make sure they are big enough for people to see and have your address on it. You should also have large arrows pointing in the direction of your yard sale. Put your signs up the night before your sale or you'll have people coming early.  You can buy complete kits online at amazon.com or piece one together at your local office supply store. How many signs you put up and where you put them is different for everyone. If you live on or near a busy roadway, you may not need but one. If you're holding your sale off the beaten path, you'll need to place these strategically on all the major intersections nearby. Signs are probably more important than newspaper and online ads.

The Day Of The Yard Sale

Expect people to show up early. Maybe the day before.  Seriously.  Expect people to bargain with you to get the price lower. Expect chaos at times.

  • Eating Be sure to have quick and easy snacks or meals you can eat. You may not have the time to sit down and eat a nice meal. You may even be able to sell cold drinks on hot days or hot drinks on cooler days. Remember, you get what you plan for.
  • Bargaining Expect it from most shoppers, especially if your prices are a little high. If you are having your yard sale over several days, you don't have to come down on prices too much because you will probably be able to sell it on another day. The last day is when you want to make the deals. How good of a deal? That depends on how much you want to get rid of your stuff. After its all over you can always give away what's left to friends, family, or charities (some charities will even come and pick up your stuff). You can also pack up everything and do it all over again at a later date, just put everything in a box and write "yard sale" on it.
  • Payment Keep a pen, paper, and a calculator by your money box. Wait until the shopper has all they want and then total up everything. Ask if they found everything they were looking for.  I've often thought of something I hoped to find but couldn't, and this is a perfect opportunity to sell something else you were holding on to for no reason.  Garage sales are impulse purchases, so take advantage.
  • Theft Most people who come to yard sales are basically good. You may never have a problem with theft, or you may discover an item gone without anyone having paid for it. If it's a low priced item, just let it go. You really can't call the police and tell them someone stole an item you were selling for $1 and expect them to come out. If you actually catch someone stealing, decide whether what their taking is worth the trouble. Maybe you can just make an off cuff remark like, "That's a good piece you've got there.", or "I'm glad someone finally took an interest in that." Now money is another matter. If someone steals your money definitely call the police. Never keep a lot of money outside with you. Make it a habit to take larger bills inside or keep it somewhere else. You can also keep most of your change somewhere else until you need it.


Miscellaneous Tips

• After your yard sale is over take down your signs.
• Use some plastic bags and old newspaper (to wrap glass items). Plastic bags from a grocery stores are perfect for this.
• Keep pets put away on yard sale day. Some people may not even get out of their car if they see a dog.
• Try and make sure merchandise is reasonably clean, if possible.

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