A Beginner’s Guide to a Successful Yard Sale

yard sale

Guest post from Yvie of Road-Schooling Gypsies

I was privileged to have a mother who shopped garage sales long before it was trendy. Hand-me-downs were no big deal — they were new to us!

We learned that, except food and toiletries, pretty much anything we needed could be bought secondhand. It’s a legacy that I began passing on to my children as soon as they understood what a quarter was.

Would you like to clean out your house and make a little egg money? Here are a few of my tips to help you have a successful yard sale:

What to Do Before the Sale:

The more stuff you have, the more traffic you’ll get — so ask your friends to join in on your yard sale, and make it a party.

Don’t pick a holiday weekend (or a weekend where there is a big, local event happening). Also, aim for the first of the month, right after folks get paid or get their SSI checks.

Check to see if you need a permit, or if there are area restrictions.

Advertise! Use your newspaper, Craigslist, Facebook groups, and put up signs. Make sure that your signs are legible, and large enough to be read by cars going past at 50mph.

Decide whether you’re selling stuff to make money, or to get rid of it. Price everything, and price accordingly.

Use bags to contain sets, puzzle pieces, etc. and then label the bags.

In the months prior, throw all your yard sale items together, so that you’re not trying to find it all the week of the sale.

A couple days before the sale, get cash: you’ll want a roll of quarters, a stack of at least twenty-five $1 bills, and a few $5 bills. Keep your money with you (fannypack?) at all times — don’t leave the cashbox sitting around.

If you are having a group sale, make sure to have a ledger to keep track of how much money goes to each person.

Stage your items just like they would stage them in a store. Place like items together, set those big items out front to draw customers, and cross-sell your items. If you have books, use a bookshelf to display them. If you have clothes, find a hanging rack. Show that you took care of your items, and they’ll be more likely to sell.

Have an extension cord handy in case someone asks to test an electrical item.

Use sheets to cover anything left in the garage that is NOT for sale. Otherwise, you’ll be fielding questions all day about what that is and how much you’d take for it.

After it’s staged, walk through your sale like a customer. It is easy to navigate? Are the prices reasonable?

What to Do the Day of Your Sale:

Turn on some background music — avoiding anything offensive.

Be friendly and greet people. If they want to chat, chat. Otherwise, leave them be. And don’t hover.

Be prepared for folks to bargain, but be less flexible at the beginning of the sale. Also remember that you don’t have to accept their offer.

Set up a big box with toys in the middle, this way moms can shop the perimeter while keeping an eye on kids that are being entertained. (If the toys are breakable/expensive, don’t put them in this pile.)

Keep your cash with you at all times, and keep an eye on your items as well. Shoplifting happens, even at garage sales.

Set up a free box, and fill it with things that you just want gone. Everyone likes free stuff.

Run that lemonade stand, especially if it’s a hot day. Better yet, let your children run it. They’re cuter than you are, and people will be more likely to buy from them.

Consider doing “stuff-a-bag” or “half-price” for the second day. This will depend on how much you want stuff gone.

Have a plan for after the sale is done (see below) so that your stuff doesn’t all come back into your home.

What to Do After the Sale:

Use the ledger to divide up your money.

Consider having an impromptu “swap” amongst your friends. (Assuming you haven’t already spent the last two days shopping each others’ items.)

As you break down the sale, divide leftover items into categories such as: 1. used bookstore 2. consignment store 3. donate boxes, and 4. Craigslist/Ebay. The first 3 groups should never come back into the house — and if you’re going to sell anything on Craigslist or Ebay, make a plan to do that ASAP!

What are your best tips to host a successful yard sale?

Yvie is a homeschooling mother of two boys, who has been perfecting the art of frugality since childhood. Find her on Facebook at Road-Schooling Gypsies.

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