The warm spring and summer weather means it’s time for yard sales. In every neighborhood for the next six months, people will empty out their garages, closets, and storage units and spread out their old possessions across the yard or garage.
Yard sales are a great way to make a little bit of money, especially for things you don’t need anymore. However, yard sales also take a bit of planning and foresight to make the day a success.
We’ll walk you through a few ways to hold a successful yard sale including advertising, pricing, and a few tips to impress your shoppers.
Should You Hold a Yard Sale?
The answer is likely yes. However, there are a few qualifications for what will really make for a good yard sale.
First, do you have enough to sell? And second, is the quality high enough to sell? Nothing is more frustrating for a Saturday morning garage sale shopper doing their research, tracking down a sale, only to find a few rugged pieces of clothing and a kitchen table with permanent marker streaked all over.
Make sure you have enough to sell and a fairly diverse set of things. If all you have is clothes, you may be better off selling it to a consignment clothing store. Furniture can be sold piece by piece on sites like Craigslist or another local classifieds website. A good yard sale should have a variety of items to sell.
As a general rule of thumb, only sell something you would want to buy or that you would be comfortable giving to a thrift store. Neither yard sales nor thrift is a way to get rid of junk.
Another qualification for great yard sales is the location. Like any business, visibility is key. Now that yard sales are discoverable online, people may be willing to drive out of their way. However, a lot of your traffic will still be people and pedestrians around your neighborhood. If you don’t have a good location, see if a friend or family member will lend you their yard.
If you don’t have enough to sell, or your location doesn’t seem like it will be a success, you can try to join a community yard sale. These bring together multiple families to hold gigantic sales. You’ll attract more customers and can get away with having less stuff to sell. Take to Facebook or your neighborhood to find a yard sale you can join.
When Should You Hold a Yard Sale?
Before you host a yard sale, make sure you choose the right day. Traditionally, yard sales take place on a weekend morning until the early afternoon. There probably isn’t a good reason to do it any other time. The time of the year is also important.
Over the last number of years, peak yard sale times are the last week of May, the first week of June, and the last week of July into August. Should you host a yard sale on one of these weekends? Well, if you want to benefit from other yard sale traffic, yes. However, you might not sell enough because of the competition. On the other hand, holding a yard sale on a less popular week during the summer will probably still be a success.
Keep in mind that many cities require a permit to host a yard sale. Be sure to obtain one before you begin.
How to Advertise Yard Sales
There are two different ways to advertise a yard sale: print and digital. Print includes anything that’s a tangible advertisement like a newspaper or signs. Digital advertising utilizes social media and other online posting.
How To Make Yard Sale Signs
The most popular way to advertise a yard sale is through signs. So how do you make a yard sale sign?
There are a few ways to make them more effective. First, choose a neon or other bright color that grabs attention. Second, write in a big, black font so that the information is clearly visible from the road. Finally, only put critical information on the sign. Say, “Yard Sale”, the address, and time. Whatever you decide to do for a sign, test it out by driving by yourself. If you can’t read it, no one else can.
Another way to draw attention to your signs, especially those right on the main road, is to include some balloons. Make sure you put your signs on a pole without other yard sale signs. You don’t want to advertise for the whole neighborhood, just your yard sale.
You’ll want to put up the signs first thing in the morning, not the day before. Be sure to take your signs down immediately after the yard sale.
Digital Advertising for Yard Sales
There are a few ways to digitally advertise for your yard sale. Most obvious may be Facebook or other social media. Most communities have an online yard sale page where people sell individual objects using Facebook’s marketplace platform. It’s generally appropriate to post about an actual yard sale.
Another popular posting site is Craigslist. Craigslist also has an app called Yard Sale Treasure Hunt which shows a map of all the sales going on around you. By clicking on a sale, you can see the details of the sale. It’s pretty handy! Here are a few more apps you can check out and post your yard sale to.
If Craigslist isn’t utilized in your city (which you can tell by how many other yard sales are posted), then see if there is another local site where you could post your yard sale. For example, some local news stations host online classifieds.
How to Price Yard Sale Items
Pricing yard sale items is one of the more difficult parts of hosting a sale. You’d hate to get ripped off and let go of your things for less than their worth. But at the same time, you definitely want them out of the house.
The Spruce gives some suggestions for pricing, which we’ll list here. For more justification for each price, check out their post.
- Adult Clothes: $3 – $5
- Children and Baby Clothes: $1 – $3
- Coats: $5 – $15
- Jewelry: $0.50 – $2
- Shoes: $3 – $7
- Books: $0.25 – $2
- DVDs: $2 – $3
- Toys: $2 – $5
- Dishware: $0.50 – $2 a piece, $5 – $10 for sets
- Small Appliances: $1 – $2
- Big Appliances: $3 – $6
- Decor: $3 – $7
- Furniture: $10 – $100
Of course, some items are of nicer quality than others. You can sell these for more, though be prepared to explain your price either way.
TIP: It’s best to label each item or to group items together by price. It’s annoying for a shopper to have to ask the price of every item. Most yard sale shoppers would prefer to come and go and only talk to the host if they have specific questions.
Dealing with Shoppers at Yard Sales
This brings us to the next topic: dealing with yard sale shoppers. Yard sales follow a strange economy that you don’t find elsewhere in the United States: haggling and barter. You may set a certain price, but most yard sale shoppers believe that trying to talk you down is acceptable. Whether or not you agree doesn’t change the fact that they’ll do it.
So what should you do? One trick may be to price all your goods a few dollars higher than you normally would. However, this discourages all the shoppers who won’t haggle to actually make a purchase.
The good news is that as the host, you have the right to be inflexible on a price. There’s no shame in saying, I won’t go any lower than what I’ve already marked the item at.
However, sometimes a little barter is a good thing. You may be able to sell more of an item, like a set of plates or a furniture set, by lumping them together at a price the buyer likes. Have in mind a price that at which you’re willing to part with everything at your yard sale.
As you haggle, don’t invoke sentimentality into your pricing. The shopper doesn’t care that the necklace was your grandma’s or that you bought something on a trip to Hawaii. Instead, talk about value. Know how much items were originally as well as their material. Show them you’ve done your research and know the value of your items.
Yard Sale Tips and Tricks
There are a few ways you can make your yard sale go just a little smoother and make the experience better for your shopper.
Make Plans to Accept Every Kind of Payment
Be sure to bring extra bills and change to the yard sale. Many yard sale shoppers will only pay in cash and exact change. Before you begin your sale, go to the bank and pick up a few 20s, 10s, 5s, and a lot of quarters. This will help guarantee a sale and save you the flustering moments spent looking around the house for spare change.
Another great tip is to set yourself up on Venmo or to get a free Square card reader. While most old shopper will pay with cash, most millennials are going to want to pay with card or digitally. Square will take out a small fee for each transaction. Venmo acts the same way, though it doesn’t require a card.
Organize Your Display
Display everything in an accessible way. One of the best tricks is to find a table to set your clothes on. Many yard sales lay clothes out on a tarp or piece of plastic. However, this is a bad idea for two reasons. It means everyone who comes to your sale has to bend down to look at the clothes. And, once enough people have rifled through, the clothes will look very messy. Plus, it will be your job to bend down and reorganize them. Better to set them on a table.
Instead of dumping everything in a box, borrow some tables and try and lay everything out visibly. This will make it easier for shoppers to see what you have to offer. It will also help you avoid people skipping over certain items at your sale because someone is already searching through a box.
Use a Sticker System
Another way to organize your display to be shopper-friendly is to use pricing stickers on every item. Pick up a pack from Walmart or your local store and label each item. You can either do a color-coded system, where each color represents a price. Or, you can write the individual price on each item. Either way, this will save you the hassle of answering pricing questions and help your shoppers make a more immediate decision.
Distract the Kids
Kids will likely tag along with their parents to the Saturday morning yard sales. As kids tend to do, they’ll touch anything and everything they see at your sale (hence another reason to put stuff on tables). There are a few ways to avoid this.
Consider having a freebie box of toys for kids. Place the box right at the beginning of your yard sale and fill it with small toys that you’d find in a Happy Meal or that you don’t think you could sell otherwise. They’ll be entertained while their parents can look around undistracted.
If you expect a lot of kids, you could also add a little activity to your yard sale. Put out a slide, coloring table, bubbles, or other things to entertain the kids for a few minutes while the adults look around.
Get Creative with Sales
To get rid of more items, try being creative with sales. One sale to try is the “fill-a-bag” method. To try this, have some grocery store bags at your yard sale and let your shoppers fill a bag for $3 or $5. You won’t make as much as you would selling each item individually, but you will sell more of your things. This is a popular thing at thrift stores. You can also run more traditional sales like a buy 2 or 3 and get one free.
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