3Rivers Blog

How-Tuesday: How to Host a Successful Yard Sale

Posted on Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Whether you're trying to make a few extra bucks or just really need to clean up and clear out your place, the most classic way to do so is by hosting a yard (garage, rummage) sale. Sometimes they go off without a hitch, and sometimes, you end up sitting there in the sizzling sun for hours on end, wondering why you didn't just donate everything.

How to Host a Successful Yard Sale | Image source: Shutterstock.com / Photographer: Jerome Kundrotas

Here are a few tips on making your next yard sale as successful as possible.

Plan Ahead

Strive to make a year-round habit of designating a box, bag, or other storage area for unwanted items and tossing in stuff you want to get rid of gradually. Doing this gives you time to decide if you really want to get rid of your items. You don't have to collect stuff for an entire year in order to have a sale, though. Plan to give yourself at least 3-4 weeks to round up all of your unwanted and unneeded things before putting them up for grabs to ensure that 1.) You have enough for a sale and 2.) You're okay with letting them go.

Get Organized

Map out how you're going to set up your items on sale day. The easier it is to navigate a sale, the longer browsers will stay, and it gives you a chance to see what you're working with. Break clothes into gender and age groups, sizes and seasons. Organize books and media by genre. Separate toys by boys and girls, and so on and so forth. Next, plan your sale dates, hours, and sale needs - like signs, tables, manpower, advertising, and how much cash you'll need to have on hand for change.

Team Up

The more people involved in the sale, the more stuff there is to sell. The more there is to sell, the more there is to buy. So, if you know someone else who's looking to have a yard sale, too, team up. Advertise as a "multi-family sale" so buyers know that there's bound to be much more variety for them to choose from.

Consider Time + Location

This might seem like a no-brainer, but choose the right time and the right place to hold your sale. A busy street might seem like the best idea - but is there space to park? Is the speed limit slow enough that passersby will see you?  In addition, timing is everything. Some cities, neighborhoods, and organizations have yard sale events you can partake in, but also consider festival season, home and garden tour weekends, holiday weekends, and other times of the year that bring a lot of extra traffic through your area.


Once you've got a solid idea of what you'll have for sale, you'll have a much easier time advertising. Your most popular items should be mentioned first in your ad. Have loads of barely used, name brand kids toys? Perfect: Be sure those are at the top of the list in order to attract the right buyers. Also, if you have any big ticket - brand new, hard-to-find, typically really pricey - items (bicycles, a semi-new leather couch, a flat screen TV) be sure to list those and their condition. Buyers don't need to know every little thing that's going to be at your sale, so try to limit your advertisement to a top five of your best items and end it with, "and much more!" On sale day, be sure to have multiple, easy-to-read signs posted on all major intersections surrounding your sale with arrows and an address, as well as some brightly colored signs (balloons and streamers are always a nice touch) in your location. Take advantage of Craigslist, free ads, newspapers, and social media.

Price Away

Keep in mind: People go to yard sales to snag insanely good deals. Unless you have an unused designer purse with the tags still attached, nothing should be priced at more than a few bucks. If an item is newer (purchased within the last two years) and in great condition, price it at half the original price and expect to get less. Be prepared: Buyers will bargain and chances are, you'll have to settle. As you price, think, "Would I buy this item at this price?" Ensure your prices are clearly marked, or come up with a color system (every green tag item = $1, every blue tag item = $2) that is made obvious to the yard-sale goers.

Treat Your Guests

Offer refreshments, like cookies and a cold drink. This will engage your customers and might even cause them to stay and browse a little longer. You can pass treats out free or even charge 25 or 50 cents per refreshment and score a little extra cash that way.  Shoppers will eat this up - literally - especially on hot Summer days!

Mark Down

Hold some kind of Final Day sale during the last few hours - or the entire last day - of your sale. Create a sign (and include it in your advertising) that states everything is half off on the last day. Get creative and have a special where buyers can fill a bag with toys or clothes for $1 total. Be prepared to watch your stuff fly off the tables!

Take the time to properly prepare for a yard sale over the course of a few weeks and you won't be stressed to the max pulling it all together in a matter of days or hours Sometimes, you'll be surprised at how well your sale goes over, and sometimes, you'll be left wondering if you accidentally posted a giant sign that says STAY AWAY in your front yard instead of YARD SALE! Be prepared to box and bag a lot of it back up and drop it off to a donation center or secondhand shops after the sale. It happens. Plan to have friends and family around to hang out with you or bring along that book you've been meaning to read for months. At the very least, you'll make a few dollars and get some major fresh-air time!

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