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Last weekend, my sister, my parents, and I held a two-day yard sale. It was a ton of work getting ready for it, but, in the end, it was totally worth all the sorting, pricing, and organizing, because we collectively made $1549 over the course of 10 hours (on two different days). We had almost nothing left at the end of the sale, and we all managed to clear a whole bunch of junk out of our houses. It was a raging success!
I lost count of how many people came up to us at the yard sale and told us it was one of the best yard sales they’d ever been to. People were raving over our signs, our organization, and our items. We worked SO hard to make sure everything went smoothly, and since it did, I thought I’d pass along some of our wisdom. There are a lot of great sources for yard sale tips out there, so make sure to do some Googling before your sale to get ideas from all over the internet! Here are mine:
Chances are, there are two reasons you want to have a yard sale: to make some extra pocket change and to get rid of clutter! Sorting through all your items can be the most intimidating part of the process—it certainly was for me. I just took it room-by-room, and sorted things into three piles—donate, sell, and keep (oh, and sometimes a trash/recycle pile, but there wasn’t a whole lot of that). When I was finished with a room, I went through the sell pile, priced everything (more on that in a sec), and packed it up in a box. Once the box was full, I closed it, and stashed it in the corner of our office. It took a few weeks to get through the entire house, but it was a nice spring cleaning/KonMari/yard sale hybrid.
You might be tempted to not price things (so much easier!), and just let people come up and ask about the price for items—but trust me, from an introvert’s perspective, that’s a really terrible idea. If I went to a yard sale, and there were no prices on things, I would turn around and leave, because the thought of asking a price or haggling for every single item I wanted would just be too stressful. Even if you are an extrovert and think it is silly that someone won’t ask for a price, trust me, it isn’t silly, and you are missing out on sales by not pricing. Price things. You’ll make it easier for you on yard sale day and easier for your customers, too.
As far as how to price, I priced as I sorted—which made it super easy on yard sale day. We also decided on 25¢ increments for our pricing. That way, we only had to have quarters as change. When it came to setting prices, I was of the mindset that all of this stuff would have been donated to charity anyway, so if I made anything off of it, I’d be happy. I priced things a little higher for haggle room, but mostly, I had “rock bottom” prices.
There will be some things that end up in your sell pile that aren’t a great fit to sell at a yard sale—expensive jewelry, brand new designer clothing, nice DVD box sets, etc. No problem, just think outside the yard! Extend your “yard sale” online to websites like eBay, Half.com, and Craig’s List. We sold an additional $378 worth of items before the yard sale even started (that’s for a total of $1927 if you’re keeping score)!
Most of those were books and DVDs. We set a price line for our books and DVDs at the yard sale—$1 for books, $2 for DVDs—and anything we could get more for that on Half.com, we posted for sale there. I priced them way lower than any of the other sellers, just because I wanted to get rid of them! It was a win-win – because of the low prices, my items sold fast, but they also sold for more than what we could get for at the yard sale.
I live on a rural country road. My driveway is on a blind curve at the top of a steep hill. Ideal yard sale location? Not so much. My sister, on the other hand, lives in a high-trafficked residential neighborhood in the heart of the biggest city in our state. BINGO. Your yard sale location is absolutely everything. It is so important that we actually hauled all of our stuff up the 2 1/2 hours to my sister’s house to sell it in her front yard (it actually worked out because we were going to be there for family events anyway).
Here’s a little secret for you: we marketed our yard sale as a three family yard sale, because it was, but the third family (my parents) didn’t contribute more than a few boxes. The most important thing about their contribution was the ability to market ourselves as a three family sale! Partner up with another family or two to help share the work load, but also to help with your marketing.
As far as logistics, our method of tracking worked really well—each family had a different color pricing sticker. When someone checked out, we just jotted down how much each family earned from the sale on a little sheet. At the end of the day, we totaled it all up. It was easy and painless.
This might sound crazy, but don’t bring everything to the yard sale. Let me paint a picture of why: say you’re rushing to get to work on a Friday morning, you drive past a yard sale in your neighborhood and you see three racks of women’s clothes packed full. You think, “Gee, it’d be nice to look through those, but I don’t have the time.” and drive right on by. Down the street, someone else is having a yard sale, they are only selling 10 really nice women’s outfits that are out and displayed so you can see what they are from the street. You see one outfit hanging up that you just HAVE to have. You stop in, buy it, and are back on your way to work in less than two minutes.
There is such a thing as yard sale fatigue! Don’t overwhelm people—especially with items that are hard to move like adult clothing and books. Pick out some of your highest quality and nicest items, mark them up higher, and sell those—donate the rest. Chances are, if you pick out 10 outfits and display them nicely, you’ll be able to sell them for $5-$10 each (and sell all of them!), but if you have rack after rack of clothes, you’ll be lucky if anyone even flips through them for a quarter. Same is true with books! Books were the one place we actually really struggled with during the sale, we had WAY too many books for people to go through, and ending up barely selling any. At the end of the sale, I priced them $1 for a box of 25 books just so I wouldn’t have to haul them to Goodwill!
I’ve heard that adult clothes don’t typically do well at yard sales, but between our three families, we had maybe a total of 25-30 adult clothing pieces that we displayed, and they almost all sold! They were well-labeled, easy to see, and people gobbled them up—even at “premium” yard sale prices.
If you really want to sell lots of items like clothes or books, think about having a multiple day yard sale and only putting half your items out the second day. That way, you can also list on your advertisements that there are new items on the second day!
There are a lot of online places to post your yard sale (just Google your town + yard sale, and you’ll see a dozen or so websites), and I recommend posting to as many as you can, but Craigslist is probably going to be your bread and butter.
We had so many people tell us they found us on Craigslist! Here are my Craigslist tips:
Around here, prime yard sale time also happens to be prime severe thunderstorm time, so we knew scheduling a yard sale for the middle of May would mean keeping a close eye on the weather. Originally, our plan was to have a full-day yard sale on Saturday—but a week before, the weather was calling for an 80% chance of rain all day, so we ended up changing it to be two half days (Friday and Saturday). It was such a good move!
Not only did having the yard sale on the two different days help us avoid the afternoon heat and thunderstorms (on the last day, literally, I felt raindrops as I closed my car with the last charity box packed in), but it also helped us hit two different clientele. On the first day, we had more hard-core yard sale fans, and on the second day, lots of families and “normal” shoppers. We also loved that we were done for the day by early afternoon on each day.
Yes, some people will find you on Craigslist, but most people will find your sale by driving by one of your signs. Signs are your #1 marketing tool—they should be your tippy top priority! If you just jot down the details on a piece of paper and staple it to a pole the morning of your sale, your sale will fail. Good signs are three things:
It might be annoying to make and hang dozens of signs, but it is vital to your yard sale’s success. There are a million different ways to make yard sale signs, but ours ended up working pretty well (and even made it through a rain storm at night). I designed my signs in Adobe Illustrator, and then printed them on hot pink paper on my laser printer. I then taped the signs to pieces of foam core—you can get big sheets for $1 each at the Dollar Tree—and then “laminated” the whole thing with wide packing tape to the keep the rain out. If the forecast didn’t call for rain, I would have skipped this step.
I made 12 large signs (20″ x 30″) for the main thoroughfares surrounding the sale, and about 40 small signs (15″ x 20″) for the smaller side streets. Each intersection had at least two signs, and I placed them at every big and little intersection within a three block radius of the yard sale location.
It sounds really expensive, but it works out to be less than $1 per sign. That’s about the price of a decent-sized classified ad in the local newspaper—and trust me, it’s more important to put your money in the signs! And if you’re splitting that cost with other families? It’s nothing!
As far as hanging signs, there were three different ways we went about it. For wooden telephone poles, we used a staple gun with long staples (easy peasy!). For corners with street signs, we taped the signs on using packing tape. And for corners without anything to attach to, we stapled 1″ x 1″ stakes in the back of the signs, and then hammered them into the ground using a rubber mallet.
We hung the signs about an hour before the sale on Friday morning—Craig and I just walked around the neighborhood and put a sign on pretty much every street corner within a three block radius. Our yard sale was just off the main thoroughfare, so we were lucky there. If the place you are having your sale is a little more secluded, you might want to plaster with even more signs.
On the second day, I did a quick drive around to check the signs. Some were knocked down by the previous night’s thunderstorm and some were missing (I saved a few signs to replace on the second day). Once the sale was over, I asked my awesome teenage niece to drive around to take the signs down for us. PLEASE take your signs down!
This is related to your signs, but also goes beyond just what’s on each street corner—you are going to want to brand your sale. Chances are, you’ll have tons of competition no matter what weekend you choose to have your yard sale (although, I suppose probably not in January), and branding yourself will help differentiate your sale. Use the same colors on your signs. Use the same fonts. Have the same layout for your displays. Make it to where it is easy to find your sale!
If you have a smartphone or a tablet, you can accept credit and debit cards! And you should because it is (a) so much easier than dealing with cash and (b) such a great way to get people to spend more money. I lost count of how many times I had this conversation:
Customer: You have such great stuff! I wish I had more than this $10 bill.
Me: Well, we accept debit and credit cards, if you want to keep shopping!
Customer: REALLY!? Yes! I’ll keep looking
*Customer comes back 15 minutes later with $100 of stuff*
We used the Square reader, which Square will send to you for free (they do charge a 2.75% per swipe fee—we ended up having less than $10 in fees for the whole sale). You download the app to your phone and then swipe their card—they sign, and done! SO much easier than counting out change.
I love yard sales, but almost never have cash on me, so I almost never stop at a sale. We marketed the heck out of the fact that we take credit and debit cards (it was on all of our signs and in all of our ads), and we had lots of people use cards and say the only reason they stopped was because we accepted credit cards.
We had so many people come up and tell us that our sale was so organized. They kept saying how it was a pleasure to walk around and shop. That’s what you want to hear! You want to keep people looking around! We used as many shelves and tables as we could, and grouped things by category. When we ran out of tables, we improvised and put out large boxes to display items.
Not only do you want to organize like items together, but you also want to organize the whole sale well. Make sure to leave lots of open space around areas where people will linger (looking through books, flipping through clothes, etc.). Put a wide variety of items up front to draw all kinds of people in (we had antique tools, Christmas decorations, and baby gear all up front). Merchandise your sale!
We’re very fortunate that we almost sold out, but even if you do as well as we did, you will have stuff leftover. You should decide early on what your strategy for stuff that won’t sell is. Do you want to try to sell stuff elsewhere? Donate it? Give it to friends? Keep it? My strategy—nothing comes back in the house.
At the end of the sale, I was marking down things to insane prices just to get rid of it ($1 for a box of books, $5 for a box of DVDs), mostly because I didn’t want to move it again! At the end of the sale, there were a few young families that came up that I was giving away baby stuff to.
The stuff that I knew I could get a few more bucks for elsewhere (barely used baby gear, mostly), I packed up in my car and took directly to a children’s resale shop once the sale was over—and made an additional $45 (that’s up to $1972—boom!). And everything else was packed up on the second day of the yard sale and taken directly to be donated. Nothing came back in the house. And I don’t regret for a second getting rid of any of it.
If I were have a yard sale tomorrow, there are a few things I’d do differently. Learn from my mistakes!
Fewer books. I already mentioned this, but I’d sell a lot fewer books. We probably had 200 books total, and people really didn’t enjoy flipping through each one. Instead, I’d pick out a handful of the prime books that I know would sell, mark them up a little bit, and put those out instead. Other things that didn’t sell well: small kitchen appliances (go figure), DVDs (even at $1 a piece!), furniture, Christmas decorations.
Bring more bags. We always use our reusable grocery bags when we go shopping and rarely have any extra plastic bags around, but people really wanted bags for their purchases. We ended up giving people boxes, but if I were to do it again, I’d stop using my grocery bags for a few months before the sale and stock up on plastic bags.
Put signs up the night before. Putting up the signs the first morning of the yard sale was stressful! I allotted 90 minutes to do it, and it took all of that time—which left my sister to be the only one setting up the sale. We didn’t even have everything set out until over an hour after the yard sale started. If I did it again, I’d put the signs out the night before, and leave yard sale morning to set up.
Fewer baby clothes. We were very fortunate to get a lot of baby clothes as hand-me-downs, and after two or three rounds of babies, most of the clothes weren’t in good enough shape to give to my friends who are having babies, but not bad enough to be trashed either. I thought maybe I could sell them for cheap, but they just didn’t perform well. I’m not too crushed about it, because I’m happy I got to donate the majority of Juniper’s clothes to charity to help out some other families—but I think I will just skip putting baby clothes out at all next time. Maybe just do what I did with the adult clothes and pick out a few high-quality outfits to display and donate the rest.
Overall, I’m so happy we decided to take on doing a yard sale. Would I want to do one next month? Heck no. Maybe not even next year! But I think having one every few years would be a great catalyst to clear out my closet and make a few extra dollars. If you are on the fence if you should hold a sale or not, I highly recommend doing it! I’m over-the-moon about how much cash we brought it—just from junk!
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On the baby clothes I have a pet peeve about having to rifle through a box. That could have led to the lack of sales.
At our sale we start marking everything half off at noon and that works great. Lowest priced items are 25 cents or free.
I agree! I’d much rather go through baby clothes when they are folded/organized. All bodies, pants, shirts, etc in their own piles… And own sizes.
Yeah, I even hung about 15-20 of the nicer baby outfits, and they weren’t selling either. :( We had a few people who picked up some baby clothes, but they definitely weren’t a great seller no matter how we displayed them. I’m glad I got to donate them though, so I’m not too crushed! :)
I agree. I neatly folded them grouped by season, shirts, pj’s, jeans, etc. on tables clearly labeled by size. Instead of pricing each item I clearly marked that all kids clothes were $10 a bag (plastic grocery) I started with 10 large tables of kid’s clothes, By the end of the first day I was down to 4 tables. (A few people happily paid $1 for just an outfit or item.) I marked shoes individually, but threw them into a bag when ever asked, as everything that didn’t sell was getting donated anyway.
Hi, where do you get tables? Is there a cheap rental business somewhere? I’m surprised this wasn’t address at all…
Cassie borrowed from friends, family, and neighbors!
We hang up any baby clothes that can be hung up and put dividers between sizes. We sell tons of baby clothes at every garage sale we have. Pants, shorts and such have to be folded on the tables but we label the edge of the table with sizes
Hi, my name is Juliet. I had a yard sale yesterday. Thanks for the advice. It helped a lot and we made 327 dollars!!!
that is a good idea. I had over heard someone saying getting items for the scouts as they were doing a penny pitch so I donated a lot of items to that Then a lady said her mom was in the nursing home & they play bingo & needed prizes so I donated all my jewelry there were many pins . that is something they can use So all this for me was better than money & to see their smiles was pricelsss
Yeah, between never carrying cash anymore and the whole introvert/not wanting to ask/haggle issue, I almost never actually buy anything at garage sales. Great tips!
Wow – great stuff! What are you going to spend your loot on?
I really like your tip about pricing everything. I’m an extrovert, but even I hate having to engage in conversation about these things/haggle. I can see exactly how it would take the stress off :)
Paying off debt! Not very exciting, I know. :P
I mean…good for you, truly. But I had to chuckle reading though this. It’s almost like a parody of how Martha Stewart would hold a yard sale or something. Be consistent in your font/branding? We’re all good at different things! :)
Take what you can use, and leave behind the rest. I’m just writing what worked for us (and yes, part of what worked well for us was my marketing and graphic design background!) in hopes that it helps someone else have a successful sale! :)
I can barely manage to get the good will bag into the car and to the drop off, so seriously, kudos. There’s probably a business opportunity here, are there professional garage sale organizers?
Cassie, your post was perfect for me!! I’m trying to organize my first yard sale and have read like a billion “Tips/Tricks/etc.” posts on Pinterest to try to get ideas that seem effective. I’ve been wanting to go about this a creative, organized, and eye-catching way, and your post has been the most inspiring and well thought out of the ones I’ve read by far. Thanks for thinking creatively about how to have a persuasive yard sale!
I think what you said hits the nail on the head perfectly! Here in Phoenix, there are a lot of garage sales and it is very easy to get lured in a different direction with multiple signs on the corner. By keeping the signs the same, I know exactly which one I want to follow and it is very helpful!
Good for you Cassie, be nice Mel! Seriously, this is by far the BEST pin I have found on Pinterest dealing with “Garage Sales”!!! I hope you see this because I am extremely grateful to you! What would you suggest about shoes?
I actually thought this was a great tip! I always cringe at the ugly hand writing of many garage sale throwers. And it annoys me to no end when I see a sign for a garage sale and, no matter how much I slow down the car, cannot make out the address by the time I pass by the sign. And no, I will not turn around to try and read it, since poor signage, for me, indicates poor planning. Poorly planned garage sales are boring. It’s so easy to make up a garage sale sign on Word, Pages, or whatever and hit print. Going to do this for our sale :) thanks!!
Wow your baby clothes didn’t sell, that must be a complete population difference because here adult clothing and childrens clothing sell fast but we live in Texas and have many families who like to send things to Mexico and toys sell like hotcakes as well. There are about 50 women that come around and will dig through every box and anywhere else you might have clothing stashed and they don’t care. We are always very organized but sometimes you are just done pricing. We get lots of compliments on our yard sales as well but that is because between my mom and myself we were in retail a while so it does make a huge difference.
Our last sale we did free childrens books and small toys so the kids could have something and it distracted them so parents could shop.
We have a garage sale about once a year what I would say though is the last sale we had the city had started enforcing needing a permit and they were pulling all the signs up so check with your individual city to make sure you don’t need a permit!
Also, used books/dvd’s/videogames Amazon.com works great as well if you have pricier ones and ship media mail and you will make money back everytime.
And yes CRAIGSLIST FTW! We also have local facebook “garage sale pages” so look into that as well.
This is a fun article, I always love your ideas!!!
Very well said! I also agree and am complete agreement on the baby clothes. I always run out of those first! I live in Mississippi and furniture is another big item. Shoes, clothes and books not so much! However I am going to try her suggestion about clothes this time!
It sounds fantastic! Really need to get organised and de-clutter all the stuff I’ve left behind at my parents when I moved to the UK! Who knows, I might have a small fortune waiting for me there ;)
Nailed it! And how cute is that neighborhood! I think I need a yellow house :)
That yellow house actually just sold and it was SO CUTE. If I ever moved to the city (ha, as if), that’d definitely be the kind of place I’d move into.
Tip for selling small appliances (or any power equipment): Have an extension cord handy so people can test the item to verify it still works. Some people (read: shysters) with yard sales will put out blenders that barely work (if at all), which makes people leery of anything like that.
Thanks! I am holding a sale at the end of the week and wondered about doing an extension cord- I’m a leary appliance shopper.
Wow, great tips and great timing. I’m gearing up for my first yard sale in a few years. I’ve always felt like I was pretty good at yard sales since I usually make a few hundred but you have blown me out of the water! Thanks for sharing!
Love the clothes tag idea.
Also love the Square credit card idea. Can you offer more info on that? The site wants you to sign up, but doesn’t offer much detail first.
Do they report your ‘income’ to the gov’t? Dont want to pay taxes on stuff i already paid tax on, you know? How did you keep records of your cr card sales to compare to what hit the bank account? or, wherever the money went….Thanks!
Square is a breeze. Once you sign up, they mail you a free reader (it’s a little square box that you plug into the headphone jack of your smart phone). You create an account, connect your bank account, and then you can swipe cards. At the end of each day of business, Square deposits the sales (minus their 2.75% fee) into your bank account. In the app, it keeps track of all the sales for you.
I’d check with your tax professional about the tax question. But I’ve always heard that just as long as you aren’t making any gains on it (as in, selling it for more than the original purchase price—which is pretty much impossible at a yard sale) and it’s not a frequent thing (you aren’t a professional yard seller), no need to report it.
be careful about not claiming income. Tax man does not care if it is re-selling or not. that is why the thrift shops charge tax. And some of the credit card companies send you a statement and they need to send that to the IRS also. don’t get the man mad over a few dollars.
Don’t confuse sales tax with income tax. You pay income tax to the IRS and sales tax to the state/local city. No income tax if you sell the item for less than you paid for it.
For sales tax, contact your state treasurer.
Yard sales are not counted as income It’s used stuff that you are selling at a LOSS. You paid more for the items than you are selling them for. Losses aren’t taxed., because in essence you didn’t make any money, you lost money,
Thrift stores charge taxes because they didn’t buy the item. Al their items were given to them and they make a profit off of it. Goodwill is on the stock exchange. You can buy shares of it.
Great tips!! We are moving and I ran out of time to do a yard sale but I’m planning to do one after the move (yay for a garage at our new place!). One other tip – where I live you have to get a permit through the city ahead of time to have a yard sale (I think it’s like $10) :/ There are actually people who drive around to ask to see your permit and if you can’t provide it, they shut you down.
Yes, check with you town about permits. AND about how to hang up signs and where they are allowed. Not easy in my town. No nails in telephone poles, not on private property, and must be taken down within 24 hours after. I have my set of signs that i re-use that have holes that i thread heavy string through and tie on. and customers remember your signs year to year and come back to that great sale.
Well done on your epic yard sale! My mum and I had one two days after Christmas and made $800 in one day!! She lives in a holiday area and I think people were bored! We sold mostly clothes and books – nothing was over $3 and to be honest we were just happy to get rid of stuff. At the end of the day we took all the books and CDs to a second hand bookseller in town and he bought the lot for $1 & $2 each!! I love reading about other people’s strategies for yard sales – there should be more of them!
Where I grew up, there was – and still is – a neighbourhood yard sale day: everyone in the area had their yard sales on the same day. As kids, our parents would give us $2 and turn us loose for the morning, and most families have set up shop at least a few times over the years.
It has gotten bigger (and crazier) every year, and now thousands of people from other parts of the city – and beyond – drive in at the crack of dawn to start cruising the lawns.
I love the idea of a neighbourhood-wide sale, and always wondered by other places didn’t seem to do it. It is SO FUN.
And a blogger’s take on it at http://www.glebebia.com/2014/great-glebe-garage-sale-survival-guide/
town wide sales are fun. and great for buyers as there is so much to see. BUT as a seller not so hot. customers only have so much money in their pockets and they are in a hurry to go to the next sale. SCORE by having your sale the week BEFORE the town wide one. Customers will be chomping at the bit to go shopping and they have money and you are the only show in town. Not to mention that you can pull it out again the next weekend and start out half price at the beginning of the day. Or leave the kids in charge, and go shopping the town sale yourself. Win-Win.
Do you have an etsy site with your signs? I LOVE how bright, large and colorful they are!
I do a multi-family yard sale twice a year. I try to have the sale very organized. I agree with most of your tips, especially pricing. I do have some friends who don’t join in my sale because they don’t want to price things individually, but it is worth doing and doesn’t take as much time as you think it would if you price as you organize. I will say not to give up on selling baby clothes. Doing this twice a year for the past 10 years or so, we see that sometimes baby clothes sell well and sometimes they don’t. It is the same for everything. It all depends on who comes to your sale. I try to be specific about the types of items I have in my ad in the paper. Often people call to shop ahead of time for those things, I almost always let them come since I have most of my tables set up in the garage ahead of the sale. Facebook flea market groups are another good place to advertise.
Your signs were amazing! Way to attract attention to your sale. I also prefer to do multi-family yard sales for two reasons 1. you give the appearance of a much larger yard sale and 2. you get to hang out with your friends all day! It’s a win win!
These are great tips!! We are hoping to have a yard sale in a month and you shared things I hadn’t thought of before – like the credit card reader!! I just ordered my Square reader and think it’s a brilliant idea. Thanks for these!!
Do you have to charge tax when you accept credit cards??
Most yard sales are not taxable. Here is a great article: http://www.forbes.com/sites/kellyphillipserb/2014/06/22/raking-it-in-at-summer-yard-sales-does-uncle-sam-get-a-cut/
This is a great post! Definitely gave me some great ideas for organization and what to/not to put out!! Thanks so much!
Great tips! I’m super surprised your children’s clothes didn’t sell!! I’m thinking that we are from the same state, by seeing that “Go Horse” tag, and I seriously have made close to 1500 dollars on children’s clothes alone at my rummages! I have found however that during our town rummage in May, my winter and fall childrens clothing dont sell well at allI. I always just box up whatever is left of that and take it to once upon a child, amd almost always sell it all. It’s so strange how some things sell like hot cakes and other things just dont. I’m really ready for rummage season!
These are so great tips and advises on yard sale. My sister’s moving soon and as she have too much stuff, she’s now considering to hold a yard sale. I would gladly participate and help her because I have some lovely but useless items too.,It’s great to find tips from someone who’s been through this already. Your advises seem to be really helpful for us. Thank you for sharing your experience! Stella from http://manwithvanbermondsey.com/ :)
I disagree on some points! This past Wednesday night, I emptied boxes from the garage and onto tables in my yard. It took three of us a few hours to get like items together and cover it with tarps. The sale started at 7am on Thursday and lasted until noon on Friday when I put a free ad on Craigslist. We made $7000! My trick? There’s no competition on Thursdays, and with the economy still coming back, hundreds of people buy/sell for a living. Start at 7am so people who work can come too. DON’T price anything! Let people make an offer. It’s human psychology. Most people don’t want to offend you and 90% of the time you’ll be offered more than you wanted. Most people like to dig/pick/treasure hunt. 7000 on household junk is a lot of money. Had I spent weeks pricing, I probably would have made $1000.
when I go to a sale I don’t know if your items are high or low priced. I am not there to play a guessing game. I want to know right away if i want to pick up lots because your prices are good, or to walk right back to the car and the next sale if the prices are too high. If you are busy you cannot give prices to everyone at the same time, someone has to wait and i am out of there.
When I go to a garage sale with no prices I leave. I don’t want to play that game.
Cool article. What did you put in the kid’s grab bags? Did they sell?
They did! They were just little toys, figurines, stickers, bracelets, etc. Things that I wouldn’t sell otherwise!
I enjoyed your article as well and many of the tips I definitely implement in my own yard sales. The only thing I wanted to add is that having plenty of tables is a must; many people over 40 don’t want to have to squat down to look through boxes of items. We rent ours from our church for a $1/table for the weekend and usually get at least 12 of them…totally worth it. Your clothes tags reminded me of a yard sale my brother and I did back in our 20’s where he made clever, funny tags for clothes, like a pink shirt he was selling, he put, “Be firm in your masculinity, just $2”. He sold his “Lucky Jeans” for $1 and on another shirt, he put a tag that said, “Tell the cashier you love Maude and get this shirt for just 50 cents”…definitely a memorable yard sale. Make it fun, b/c they are a lot of work!
I enjoyed your article and tips. One point I wanted to make is that utility companies actually prohibit hanging signs on their poles. The staples or nails used to hang them can injury a worker if the pole needs to be climbed or worked on.
May I ask what font you used on your signs? I can see that you used different ones but especially the bold marker style font. Thank you!
I honestly don’t remember, and I have since deleted the files. So sorry!
Ok thank you for the response. I’m sure I can manage without it. :)
Good Blog! You did everything we’ve been doing for our 20 years of yard sales except pricing. In our area, 90% don’t price, which is good, since there’s only 2 of us selling for 3-4 households. Practically giving away our stuff for our 5 hrs. sales, we’ve made enough from each sale to purchase major appliances or have free vacations. There’s nothing better than downsizing, purging, people who recycling and of course….Craigslist.
Did you take your signs somewhere to be printed? I’m just wondering how you got them so well done but on large posterboard… Thanks
Thank you so much for your great post. Following your advice, I just made 1500 on my garage sale over the weekend. My family needs money to provide corn-free food to our son who is allergic, and this method of fundraising was a success for us (we also took donations from other families because we don’t have that much stuff!).
Your tips were fantastic! We’re moving out of state and there was no way all the stuff was coming with, some of it hadn’t be touched in the 3 years we’ve lived where we are now. From the price as you clean out each area, selling in 0.25$ incraments, use the same color/design style on your flyers, to accept credit cards your tips helped me make 530$. Now I can pay the handyman and I have less stuff to pack! Thank you!
I’m just sad you sold your OC and Gilmore Girls DVDs!! Awesome job on the sale :)
They were duplicates! :)
Awesome write up and sounds like you guys had a lot of fun while cleaning up and making some money. I recently posted a short guide to garage sale’ing and mentioned your post – I think the real life example (and awesome photos) will help keep people on track – check it out! http://www.staycleanottawa.com/2016/07/how-hosting-a-garage-sale-will-help-you-declutter-your-life/
This post is a great outline for having a sale. Love the signing, Well worth driving items to a better location. Good to take charges.
I will add a few things I have learned over my 40 years of having sales and shopping sales.. OK, more then a few ideas and I am wordy but bear with me.
Books, baby clothes, anything you have tons of…. Give a group price. $1 each or 7 for $5.. Books are .25 cents at our Library sale twice a year so more than that will not fly unless it is something very Special. .25 or 5 or 6 for $1 And remember Special to you does not mean much to others..
Remember to keep filling spaces on your tables when things sell. Move items up from the ground. Group items that will appeal to same people. Items from another country, Too many linens and that nice tablecloth from Poland will get lost. A grouping of Asian together. Mix some of your books in if they “fit” the grouping. A summer spot will be appealing with your flower pots, lawn chairs, colorful plastic ware ,etc.
If you are having your sale in the spring or early summer when you are potting up your pots of assorted flowers pot up any extra pots you have around. I was surprised how fast these were purchased.
Electrical. Yes to a cord and plug in a fan, it will sell in minutes. plug in a radio, lamps and anything else you can. Put a sign saying help is available to help plug in.
Hire a couple of neighborhood girls to sell your jewelry. they will be worth it as your eyes can be elsewhere and women love to work with the young girls
I find Pocket books sell well, Perfume sells well. and surprise your old sofa pillows may sell. Hey, give them a try..
Have a wrap area where customers can wrap their own fragile items. a table with newspaper is all you need.
Have a hold area and as customers are shopping ask if you can put it in their pile. empty hands will pick up more stuff. But that does not mean leave it there and come back hours later. If they drive away it goes right back out for sale. YOU add up the pile in the end and then give them a total price. don’t just let them offer a price for it all, you don’t know what they have tucked into the bottom of the pile.
Letting customers know that there is help to carry items to their car will make a large item more attractive.
If not right on the street have large items leading back to where the tables are. But a table visible with lots of stuff on it will draw them back. Large Sign MORE IN BACK or GARAGE. Balloons, Signs. Anything so customers know this is the house. I have a sandwich board sign that i put over the top of a 6 foot ladder right at the curb. often with balloons or flags hanging form it also.
MOVE YOUR CARS out of the way. into a neighbors driveway or down the street. 1) room for customers, 2) do not block vision to see the sale 3) Protect your car.
If you have a lot of helpers ask all to wear same color shirts. Red or white or their July Forth favorite Patriotism helps sell, or wear Hawaiian lies. easy for customers to spot you.
Keep your pets inside. Customers need to focus on what you are selling. and some are scared of dogs, yes even my cute Pom will make some people back off. Also keep the chit-chat quick. especially if you find you are the entertainment of the day for a customer who just wants to visit.
Ask friends to help but NOT the friend who wants to talk with you all day, that is not help and will wear you out. And these few hours are your chance to sell and purge not chit-chat.
Do you have a clean up week in town where items are put on the curb for garbage pick-up? Drive around and you can pick up a few more things to sell.
Lemonade stand for the kids to run is nice. with Cookies or brownies even better. And let the kids make the change, customers will not rob the kids and they can use their math skills.
Have change. and have it ready for the early birds if you are letting them in. IF you ads say No Early Birds. Please follow your own rule. I did not come to your sale early because you asked me not to and when I drive up I don’t want to see customers walking out with hands full.
If you have no ideas of pricing go to some sales ahead of time and get some ideas. Don’t go through all that work and price items so high that at the end of the sale you have tons to put away.
When in doubt drag it out. Just because you don’t think it will sell if easy bring it out. it is good to have a lot and a mix of things. And the right person just may come by.
About an hour before the end of the sale I will ask my helpers if there was anything that they saw that they were interested in.
At the end of a sale the first things i will pack up to go to charity is anything priced under $2. Then i can start to think of the other items that are left and decide about them without all the clutter. Next- items that go right back into the house. Many i leave the price tag on. Then one more round of charity or a round of keep for next sale. Doing it in waves makes it easier to decide.and quicker.
Good luck all. It is an experience and you will get through it. If you make enough for a meal out, a vacation or to help with the cost of living you will also be happy that items have gone to others now to enjoy.
Wow! This article is fabulous, Cassie!! I have never had a garage sale or even been to a garage sale. I used your article to plan and execute my fabulous, very successful garage sale (pink theme utilizing Apple Casual font for signage). Everyone commented about how organized it was and offering payment by credit card using the Square Reader was a hit (they don’t accept Debit cards in Canada, just Credit Cards). Just heading into the last day and offering 50% off select tables! Thank you so much for your help and guidance…Hugs from a Grateful Canadian!
For baby clothes I do the bag deal. Fill a bag for $3. I sort them by size and people would rather fill a bag than buy individual. If it’s a nice outfit I price it individually and that works.
I have some left over bead board I’m going to use on coolers as a table. I have 2 folding tables but an extra is always needed. Love your tips. Thanks for sharing.
I think the biggest tip here is ALWAYS price everything. If I walk up an it’s not priced I walk away. I don’t want to keep asking how much is this..
For my yard sale I had a ton of baby clothes. The day before, I sorted out all the clothes by size. Put all the same sizes together in a garbage bag and marked them for $5 for the whole bag. I got rid of a bunch of baby clothes and made a little money for the time it took me to sort out the sizes. Plus customers seemed to be a little more excited about getting a deal on so many baby clothes in a specific size.
Unique idea. Really, I would love to follow.
Amazing advice, Cassie, thank you so much! We’re moving next month, so I have lots of time to purge, sort, and price as I pack. I especially love the color-coordinated signs. Yard sale signs are hard to see in our town right now because of all the political signs.
Great tips, I am going to use a few in my last minute garage sale tomorrow. My only issue is accepting Debit and Credit. This leaves a paper trail and if you are audited you may have to pay tax on that income. Just some food for thought, and why I would only ever have a cash sale. I’m unsure of tax law where you live. Anyways thanks for the great post.
In the U.S. just as long as you aren’t selling the items for a profit (a capital gain) the income doesn’t need to be reported, since it isn’t really income at all. Most folks sell items at yard sales for pennies on the dollar for what they bought it—no need to let the IRS know.
I work at an accounting office and checked into this years ago…according to IRS.gov if these are items from your home and you purchased them or they were gifts….they are yours, used items and do not need to be reported. This is much different than choosing to set up a monthly flea market selling and renting a space to sell your garage sale items.
Can you tell me how (before slashing prices) you knew what to price items? Did you use a pricing chart from somewhere?
We checked out other yard sales around the area, and honestly, just thought of what the lowest price was we’d be okay with selling it.
I would like to know if the debit/cc reader is something you cancelled after the yard sale or do you have to keep an account open?
I keep it open. There are no maintenance fees on the account I have, and it’s nice to have kicking around. Sometimes I use it to transfer Visa/MC gift cards I get as gifts into my bank account. And it’s nice to have for future yard sales!
Use your town’s or city’s Facebook Buy Sell Trade groups to sell or gift baby and children’s clothes. They work fabulously bc people that don’t do yard sales can contact you to purchase when it’s convenient for both the buyer and seller.
Excellent advice!!!! I can only add to be sure to have adequate change/small bills on hand at opening time. We love to use up our nicer boutique bags for our customers- makes them feel a little more special. Also, considering a tub of ice water with small bootlegs of water available- free?? orsmall charge- on those hottest days.
Great tips. Thank you. I used this app called http://tallysheetapp.com to keep track of sales. It supports multi-family sales. It was a huge help and time saver.
Awesome tips from everyone! Thank you??
What items usually sell well?
What doesn’t sell well?
There are some excellent tips here. I am planning my yard sale after moving in with my fiance. Lots of good stuff to sell and I think I will do well if I follow the advice I see here. Can’t wait to make the money. Not excited about the work but sometimes that’s what is necessary to be successful.
Thank you for this article :) I am packing most of my house for a yardsale in a couple weeks. I linked you in my blog post about it.
Great article! I just have one question…did you ever encounter any problems with people stealing? Both times I’ve been involved with a garage sale there were instances of people getting caught blatantly shoplifting and even switching the price stickers on items. These instances occurred when I was a child and another time when I was in my church youth group. My sister and I are planning on having our first garage sale on our own later this month. I’m just a little nervous because I’m extremely shy & remembering these occurrences has brought me a lot of anxiety. Do you have any advice on how to handle a situation like that if it should come up? I know it seems like a small loss, but this is actually something that happens a lot in my town…with the same people getting away with it each time.
We didn’t notice any issues! But I will say that we had 2-3 people walking around with aprons (so we were obviously “working”) in the small area at all times. So the opportunity to switch tags or steal would have been minimal.
Based on the cool tags in the pics, one way to stop switching is to put a one or two word description along with the price.
Great tips!!! Can’t wait till spring!!!!
Thank you for the information! We’re planning one for sometime this summer (which is prime yard sale season in the area) and I wanted to start planning. The signs look great and so easy to read! I don’t know how I feel about the Square reader though… I’ve swiped my cards on one before but still… I will look at it though. Thanks for the tips!
Your garage door is your best friend to hang clothes on. Drop it down one panel and use wire hangers from dry cleaning to display the clothes. That way you can have your garage door open without people waking in. Can’t stand the
“blanket on the lawn” for clothes.
Also, talk to your neighbors and ask them if they’d like to join you in a neighborhood garage sale. The more the merrier!
I used the Mystery bag idea and separated them by Kids, Womens, and Mens. People went crazy! I started with a total of 50 different bags and they all sold! I think it is the psychology about it. If the items were displays on the table I might not pay for it, but since it is a mystery and only $0.50-1.50 I am more likely to pay JUST to see what it is. Great tip!
I always put a sign up $2.00 fill a bag of clothes. As well as organize clothing by size and type. This always works for me and I sell out of clothes very quick. The last day of the sale I only charge $1.00 bag. It beats driving to good will and I make alot of money considering not much fots in a grocery bag.
I want to add to use a counterfeit detection pen on all bills, I got a fake$10 at my last sale and was really embarrassed when I tried to deposit it at the bank!
Good tips. Gotta disagree bout books. What I look for most. And salers, please, don’t just say “books”.There are literally millions of titles,thousands of subjects.WHAT subjects? I like anything from newer to 1970s dell junk paperbacks etc….Everyones different! Some ppl LOVE to look through books.More the better.
I’m about to have a yard sale and I’m trying something with displaying adult clothing. I have a ton of women’s clothes and I’m asking $1 each. I am taking the frame to a pop up 10×10 tent but taking the top off of it. This way people can walk into it and everything will be hanging all around the sides. I’m taking paper plates and dividing everything by size. I hope this works. I’ll update after my sale and let you all know. That’s for all the great advice.
We live on a high traffic area street, My baby clothes are the first to go..I do put them on tables. When I go to sales I do not go through the boxes I would rather have them out to look at. One year a lady bought the whole table of clothes because she said they smelled good and they were in beautiful shape. Made me happy.
I am so glad that I found your post through Pinterest! We are participating in the world’s largest yard sales in Seville, OH this year. Although most of my items will be baby clothes – I’m confident we will do well. My sister made $800 on her baby clothes last year. It might have to do with the fact that thousands of people come for these sales :)
Wow, that’s awesome. Good luck!
Also another big helpful tip is on the signs. You dont have to write yard sale so big. People know its a yard sale when they see the bright pink and green. What is important is to write address really big BC when your busy you need to read quick and sometimes its hard to see those tiny letters
Love this article FYI! I’m getting great ideas!
Question: How do you go about the issue of tax with a yard sale using square? The people I have purchased from before said if I paid with credit card that the reader automatically charges tax. Also, square reports earnings to IRS as far as I can tell on their website. I mean we are talking about small money here.
I highly recommend talking to your tax professional about it—the laws vary widely by state and region. Where I live, as long as you aren’t selling for a profit (which, you rarely do at a yard sale—no one is going to pay retail for my 10 year old shoes), no taxes are needed.
Great post girl. Thank you so much for your information and well written page. Looking forward to my sell next week…..even more so now. Appreciate you taking the time… looking forward to reading future posts. Take care.
Great tips. And love how u respond back with. I especially love the tip about pricing. I don’t think I have ever been to a yard sale that prices things so I am definitely going to make sure everything ha’s a price. I’m having a yard sale this weekend and with your advice it should be a hit.
This is amazing! Thank you so much for sharing these tips! I have had several garage sales and implemented some of the same ideas. However, you touched on so many more things that I didn’t know, like the credit and debit card, not putting out everything all at once, check in with other people close by having a sale, etc. My fiancé and I have been collecting stuff for over a year and tomorrow we start to organize it. I was surprised to read your furniture didn’t sell very well! I wish I had more of it! I hope and pray we do as good as you did, in that we are using this money for our honeymoon! So glad I clicked on your site! Great job!
The last couple of years my neighbor and I decided to start selling nearly everything in some kind of Bag/Baggie….. I even put kitchen utensils in a xl ziplock and sold it in no time for 3 dollars. If I had priced them individually, I would have been lucky to get 10cents for each item.. My son sold ALL of his toys… and he had a ton…… because we put them in ziplock bags. He made over $30 on his own. People feel like they are getting more for their money this way. Gearing up right now for our sale in September! Thanks for all the info, and comments! REally helped.
Gilmore Girls DVD’s! Can’t believe you sold those, lol.
Thanks for the post.
I was organizing a larger warehouse/garage sale of items so we had a sports dept, office, home, xmas, tools. we turned over gigantic boxes to use as table tops – worked well. You need tons of tables!
I posted photos of the items with my Craigslist ad. I copied your sign design but had to print on 4 papers to make 1 sign and glue them to the Dollar store foam boards – printing large format signs like yours will cost a lot! We also put balloons on our main sign in front of the street.
We priced 75% of the items. We had shelves of tshirts (new) we were selling. People were willing to dig in the boxes since we didn’t have time to sort out sizes..
We had an early bird that resells at flea markets that bought 40% of our stuff from the start, too. Expect those early birds!
Forgot to add – I loved the tip of not pricing anything below 25cents. !!! Easier to calculate stuff.
And I also got jumbo and gallon bags to “bundle” like things together or sell as bundles to move more stuff.
How much of your total sales were done on credit cards?
I’d say a little less than half. Almost all of the big ticket items were sold on credit cards!
What about placing things on the ground ? Sure it’s a great way to display a lot of things, but do people really want to do all that bending.
I absolutely love your post! I’m trying to plan my first yard sale and I have so many random items it’s disturbing! I never would have even considered accepting credit cards so thank you for that suggestion. We’ll see how this goes but the clarity of your post, the perfect signs, and all of your little ideas help so much. I feel less stressed already. Thank you!!
Thanks you for the tips
I remember times (time & time again!!!) driving around looking for the next sign….so thank u. It reminded me how much I hated peoples signs not being “branded”. Some people have signs that it would’ve been nice to even have the writing the same…..
I had never held my own garage sale, and the thought of how to do this was daunting. I held my first this last weekend, and your insight and recommendations here were awesome!! I got a lot of the same compliments – which means your approach WORKS! I used SquareUp for debit transactions, and everything about it went flawlessly! Thank you for your kind heart and taking the time to write this article for others to benefit :)!!
I love the idea of the Square credit card device. On their webpage, it asks what type of business you have (or something to that affect). What would I put in that field since I’m only having a garage sale?
Hi, my name is Alejandro. :)
So, great article! I will surely also be thinking about using the internet and trying to post things in other places online as the time hopefully gets closer. :D
My only other questions are
1) Would you need to have any kind of PERMISSION to have a yard sale in your town from anybody in particular in the same way that people must have driver’s licenses to drive vehicles??
2) Would I also be required to tell somebody important about how much the yard sale made at the end??
I’m sure maybe somebody else ^^ may have answered my questions, but I think it’s still something important that I think about and ask just in case. (Y)
Additionally, I gained a lot of wonderful ideas from you guys and I will do my best, if I hold my own sale, to be as authentic in my own approach for something like this; my own philosophy about things I’d feature in a yard sale is “If I wouldn’t buy it, I wouldn’t sell it!”
Fantastic article and wish me luck, thanks again. :D
Great article. While reading it i compared it to my chk list. Lot in common. Just had one this passed weekend and did great met some really nice people. Ended up selling branches of a cactus plant that just happenedy to be flowering beautifully right off of the plant. Looking forward to our next sale. Thanx again
LOVE LOVE this article! Many great tips.Just wondering, how many/what types of items did you put into kids mystery bags?
Not a lot—maybe 3-4 pieces? Depending on the value/size of the pieces. Some of them were just one or two big things (like a deck of cards and some stickers). Others were lots of small pieces (like bangle bracelets).
I learned SO MUCH from your article and all of the comments!! I’m about to have a garage sale, and feel a lot more confident about it now!! Thank you thank you thank you!!!
I love the idea about taking credit cards, but I would worry about charge backs. Say they take the goods and then go home and a few days later tell the card company it wasn’t them. Then square comes to you to pay back. Any thoughts on that
Didn’t happen with anyone at our sale (and we had lots of credit card transactions), but I suppose it could!
I’m thinking about having my first yard sale this Spring. Where do people get all the the folding tables ? I know I will need at least 15 if not more . Thank you for the amazing tips.?
We borrowed, borrowed, borrowed. Pretty much every house has one or two—so we asked our friends, family, and neighbors! (And made sure to label each one on the bottom with masking tape so we knew who to return them to).
I’m going to follow your blog now. Not just because you had great tips in this post, but because your daughter’s name is Juniper! That’s what we were going to name our son if he had been a girl! Lol. Love it!
Such a great article! I will surely also be thinking about using the internet and trying to post things in other places online as the time hopefully gets closer. And thank you for the sharing such kinds of great tips.
Yard sale signs the night before, or days before can drum up more business than morning on. Some weekends are better than others for yard sales, so choose wisely (ie. a large popular event in the area prevents many shoppers coming by) or you know there is many sales in the area, people like that and will hit them all up, back to back. Cash in on that and throw one together last minute just to save on advertise costs (if you pay for newspaper ads) and increase your visitors.
Great article! Lots of tips I’m going to follow. Do you have any additional advice for someone having a whole house sale? We currently live overseas and decided to sell our house since it didn’t make sense to be paying the mortgage for a place we visit about every 2 years. I want to open up the house for the sale (but still have lots of stuff outside) because I don’t want to carry out stuff like furniture, freezer, washer & dryer, etc. I figure my husband will manage outside and I’ll take care of inside. We ALWAYS price (like you, I will not ask prices at a yard sale), and figure I can use things like the dining room table to display items, at least until someone wants to buy the table, LOLOL. Am open to any and all suggestions!! Also, what do you think about accepting credit cards through Paypal? I don’t have time to work with SquareUp (PS I am definitely going to put the signs up early. Brilliant!)
I’m trying to figure out how you made sich large signs with your printer. Care to share your secret?
If I’m not mistaken, she used several pieces of 8 1/2″ x 11″ paper and lined them up when she taped them to the foam core.
Yes, I just printed it in “tile” format (it’s in the print settings) on letter-sized paper, and then taped them together.
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