As we get into the heat of summer, we look for more and more ways to spend time outdoors. So why not spend it in the sun while also making a few bucks? Time for a Yard Sale — or, depending on your location, a Garage Sale, Lawn Sale, Stoop Sale, Tag Sale!
Whether you’re anticipating a move and want to thin out your belongings so there is less to pack, or you recently moved and brought too much stuff with you, there’s a Yard Sale in your future.
Need a little push to clear out your clutter?
Here are our 22 tips on having a successful and enjoyable Yard Sale.
- Consider the weather. What will you do if the weather doesn’t cooperate? That’s not an issue if you’re having a Garage Sale, but otherwise, ask around to borrow a tarp so you can advertise your sale as “rain or shine.”
- Power in numbers: Multi-family sales attract more shoppers, so ask your neighbors if they are also planning on having a Yard Sale any time soon.
- Pick a day! Saturdays are best for Yard Sales because you can stretch it till Sunday to reduce prices on stuff that didn’t sell earlier. If you can make a weekend of it, go for it.
- Beware the early birds. If professional shoppers think you might have some bargains, they’ll stake out your home long before you’re ready to start selling. Keep that in mind when choosing a start time.
- Prepare ahead of time! Gather enough bags and boxes to help shoppers carry their purchases in, and stock up on old newspapers to wrap up glassware and other breakables.
- Check local laws. In most communities, you don’t need to obtain a business license or collect sales tax. But be on the safe side, check online or ask your town hall if there are any rules you need to abide by.
- Market your event. Besides putting up posters on neighboring streets, list your sale online. Post pictures of the stuff you’re selling and give details, especially if anything is in demand or of value — like a Playstation or a vintage magazine collection.
- Be honest: Some people may disregard a minor flaw or missing batteries, but if an item is broken or needs repair, toss it — don’t sell it. That’s just asking for a headache.
- Clean up: Make sure the clothes you’re selling are clean and either hung on hangers or neatly folded. They’ll sell better that way than if displayed in an old box that people have to paw through.
- Settle on a selling strategy: Don’t bother pricing every piece in advance if you’re OK with making it up as you go. But if you’re serious about selling, make sure everything is clearly marked — and always haggle!
- Do your research. You want people to be unable to pass up a bargain, so spend some time visiting other local sales to scout out what items like books, toys, housewares and furniture are selling for.
- Price realistically. Yard Sale shoppers are willing to spend, but they want to spend as little as possible, so aim to price things at about 25% of retail — and even less if you just want to get rid of them.
- Sign of the times. Keep signage short and sweet so that it can be read from a passing car. Get more descriptive if you’re in a more walkable neighborhood. Some people even use chalk on the sidewalks to grab attention.
- Discourage returns. You don’t want that stuff back in your life once it’s sold, so display an “ALL SALES FINAL” sign where everyone can see it.
- Bank on it. Not every shopper will have Venmo or Paypal, and you don’t want to turn down a sale because you’re unable to give change, so be sure to stock up on small bills and coins. Store your cash in a money box or, better yet, wear a fanny pack across your waist.
- Speaking of coins. If you price everything in increments of 25 cents, you won’t need to get rolls of pennies, nickels and dimes to make change.
- Calculate. If you’re bad at math, make sure your mobile phone is charged up and use the built-in calculator to add up purchases. Or go old school and carry a notepad and pencil.
- Table it. Grouping similar items together — like vases, Barbies, yarn or paperbacks — makes it easy for collectors to buy in bulk. But you’ll need ample display space, so ask to borrow folding tables: your local church may be a good source!
- Spotlight the big stuff. Turn drive-by browsers will turn into real shoppers by placing big-ticket items like TVs, bicycles and lawnmowers closer to the street. Have some “SOLD” stickers to tag things that buyers may need to collect later in the day.
- Go the extra mile. Sometimes buyers need a little nudge to open their wallets. Have access to an electrical outlet — or spare batteries — so buyers can test any electronics you’re selling. And keep a tape measure handy for things like curtains and tables. It could mean the difference between getting and losing a sale.
- Give it away now. Shoppers can’t resist a freebie, so toss items with no real value in a few bags or boxes under a big sign that reads “Free Stuff.” Once they take the bait, they’ll find more that’s equally irresistible.
- No leftovers. Remember that you’re not trying to get rich; you’re trying to get rid of stuff. So don’t discount low-ball offers: they may be the only ones you get. Offer deeper discounts to people buying multiple items. Rule #1: bring nothing back into the house.
- Donate. Take anything that didn’t sell but is too good to kick to the curb — and donate it. Many churches take donations for their own fundraisers or look for local charity donation boxes. Get a receipt: donations can often be deducted from taxes.
- Don’t litter. At the end of the day, take down all the signage you posted. Nobody needs to see expired Yard Sale signs littering the streets.
Finally, enjoy yourself!
If you’re leaving the area, a Yard Sale is a great way to say goodbye to the neighbors. Or, if you’re having a sale in your new place, it’s the perfect way to meet the locals!