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7 Tips on How to Host A Yard Sale & Make More Money

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Two years ago I hosted a yard sale that after all expenses netted me about $120. I did some research on how to make it great that I want to share with everyone today.  Since that time we  have acquired loads of stuff, something I am a little ashamed of. It totally feels as if we are outgrowing our home, but if I really try to nail down the reason, I think it is because we have too much clutter.

So it is now time to declutter once again, but at the same time add to the get out of debt fund, totally seems like a win-win situation in my eyes.. Here are some tips that I have found to make sure your yard sell is a success.

1. Choose The Right Date

Try avoiding holiday weekends, and make sure it’s approved by your homeowner’s association or local government. Some cities designate a specific weekend or two each year and don’t allow yards sales at any other time. I didn’t do this step two years ago, since I decided to do the yard sale, after seeing a town wide yard sale sign. Having it on this day will ensure me greatest potential for foot traffic.

The question is though, is this a good idea? I am considering having it on another day, simply because yes there were hundreds of people out that day, but I was the only house on my block that was having one. If I was reading the town map of yard sales and only saw one house in the area, I would either save it for last or not even go.

I also want to really plan this out for a month or two, prepping things and deciding if a yard sale would be the most profitable for the item.

2. Get The Word Out

Use signs and local advertising, and be descriptive about some key items you have. Make sure all the signs look alike and are BIG with THICK black letters. Try to be different and use something that stands out, like the fluorescent color poster boards that you can find in the arts and crafts sections.

Post a notice in your local newspaper’s classified ads. State your key items and how to find your place. Also place what color poster boards to be looking for. Use websites like Craigslist and Yard Sale Search. There are even apps for such things now.

3. Price Everything and Be Reasonable

At a yard sale, no one is expecting to pay retail. After reading tips, it seems the norm to sale an item for 25% of their retail value. Bundling like items for one price may help things move faster. Remember to price everything, because you don’t want to take the time to answer how much for this particular item a hundred times, it could ruin your sale. Regardless how you decide to price thing, there will be shoppers who will want to negotiate with you.

4. Be Prepared for Haggling

Yes, you spent all that time pricing everything, but sure enough someone will come up to you and try to haggle their way down to a cheaper price. Give it some thought ahead of time about which items you are firm on and which items have some lee-way.

Personally the only things I am pretty set on the price are my bigger ticket items. Because you know someone will try to haggle with you over the thing, price the item a little more so you have the room to negotiate the price.

Just remember if they bargaining with you, it’s because they are interested in the item, don’t be completely rigid, but don’t give your stuff away.

5. Display Items To Their Advantage

The more you can spread your items out, the better. Hang clothes up on a portable clothes rack, along a fence, or make your own makeshift clothesline. People are more inclined to stop if you set up shop in your yard or driveway. Make your yard sale inviting and easy to browse. Set up tables and lay out smaller items so people don’t have to bend over to look through everything.

This might hurt my yard sale, for I have a small yard and you have to walk between my house and the mother in law’s house to get to the yard. But I decided to lure some people in by placing the highly desirable items near the road.

6. Profit From The Weather

During early morning sell coffee and tea. While during the afternoon, have a cooler with can sodas and bottled water. This will be pretty easy for us, since we have a huge stockpile of beverages. I actually plan to do one better and have food to sell. Probably like sausage, egg, and cheese wraps for breakfast. And hamburgers, hot dogs, and barbeque for lunch. Being a chef and knowing how to make all this in large portions for a great cost ratio comes pretty naturally to me.

7. Have Enough Change

It seems like a good starting point is have $30 in ones, $30 in gives, $10 in quarters, and $5 in dimes and nickels. I plan to have a little more quarters, since I probably will be selling lots of things for a quarter.

Never use a cash box, always keep your money on hand. These days you can never be too careful.

Running a yard sale isn’t that hard, but with a little effort into making it an pleasant environment, you can make a lot more money. Anyone have any other tips?


22 Comments

  • Reply Mysti |

    I will NEVER do another yard sale. We spent weeks prepping, and made about $150. It took hours upon hours and we still had to load stuff up to donate. The number of hours put in did not net enough of a profit.

    As for selling water….my then 9-year old tried to sell bottled water. Not one person bought it. NOT ONE. The poor kid worked so hard to help us, made signs for her “business.” She entertained little kids while their parents looked around. And she made nothing. We gave her money just because we felt bad that she worked so hard for nothing.

    • Reply Kiki |

      Oh, that’s too bad your little girl did not make money on the water. I have seen that it is not a big seller when people are out. They usually have their own drinks. Sometimes I may buy a Kool-Aid from a child, but I always dump it when I get to my car. Who knows if the kids washed their hands when they made it!

      If you didn’t make much money, perhaps you priced your items too high. It has to be priced to get it OUT of your garage! Too often I go to sales, and I can guarantee that people will be boxing this stuff up for another sale or to take to Goodwill. Jim, I actually think that 25% of retail price is too high. If a blouse cost $30 originally, I am not going to pay over $7 for it. Maybe I’ll pay $2. It’s a garage sale, not a thrift store!

      • Reply Mysti |

        We had a TON of kids clothes….$1 or less per item. We had a few brand new things that we had separate. Like a brand new, with tags, snowsuit….tag was $60. We were asking $10. Most household items were under $5.

        I think for us it is somewhat regional….yard sales aren’t a huge thing here.

        My daughter was disappointed…but there was nothing we could do! We really thought she would clean up. I mean, cute kid….cold water on a 90 degree day….seems like a win-win!

        • Reply Kiki |

          Mysti, maybe it is regional. I live in the Twin Cities (MN), and most people do very well on their garage sales. In fact, if I don’t get out early, I will miss out on the good stuff!

      • Reply Jim |

        Haha you are probably right Kiki. The yard sale I had we priced all clothing at $.50 or 3/$1

  • Reply debtor |

    No tips here because I’ve aleways lived in pretty busy cities. But another way that works for me has been craigslist.

    Yard sales look like so much work!

  • Reply Meghan |

    I think it is a good idea to check out yard sales in your area for a few weekends in advance to see what people in your area are selling and at what price.

    I would also check to see if they are selling food or drinks as well. I have never really seen people doing that unless it was a large sale situation (like allowing people to set up in a church parking lot) so even though you could do it on the cheap, if you don’t have people expecting to come hungry/thirsty you will probably just end up eating it yourself (literally!!!)

    Remember to post about your sale not just on signs around town but on Craigslist and if your town or neighborhood have any listservs, many communities also have Facebook groups regarding yard sales as well.

    In the same vein as Craigslist for advertising, you could offer people an opportunity to come check stuff out the night before. I once lived in an area where yard sales were such a big thing that people would start showing up literally within 15 minutes of your ad going up on craigslist. I am so glad I knew that because I actually offered people the opportunity to stop by the night before but then all prices were set at what I labeled them as (no negotiation).

    Also, toward the end of your sale if you have a bunch of stuff that you would just end up donating, you could try doing “box sales”. You throw a bunch of stuff into a box (say all clothing of the same size, all candles, etc.) and sell the whole box for a set price. If there is enough stuff that people don’t necessarily want to bother digging through it but there are one or two items that catch their eye they will take the whole box, we had the small book size boxes from U-haul and we sold them at $5 or $10 dollars a box depending on what was in them.

    If your town does regular community yard sales, it might be worth looking into going to those instead. Our neighboring town does yard sales at the community center twice a year, they rent the spaces (I think it is $25 a space) but so many people pass through that if you have a lot of stuff that you are getting your investment back many-fold! Especially if actually getting to your yard sale is difficult walking through yards, it would be to your benefit to find a more desirable location to hold it.

    If you know your neighbors, it can be worthwhile to talk to them about all picking the same date to do a yard sale. Like you mention in your article, if people see one house in an area they might bypass it, but several houses warrants at minimum a drive-by to check out the offerings.

    Cheers,

    Meghan

    • Reply Jim |

      I made a good bit with my food and drinks. Everything cost me about $40, but just the food alone made up the costs of the whole yard sale. We even had leftovers!

      We actually have a town wide sale, that the town pays for advertising and makes up maps as well.

      Great ideas Meghan! Thanks so much!

  • Reply Walnut |

    I haven’t done yard sales, but I have sold literally everything and anything on Craigslist. The box option works great when you have lots of like items. I had a friend list boxes at $5/each and had all 20 gone within the hour.

    I’m also an avid Craigslist buyer. Why by new when I can buy great stuff used!

    • Reply Jim |

      So true. I actually sold lots of my freebies from coupons at yard sales. $.50 or 3/$1. I had all my prices very very simple. I didn’t want to be bothered with taking the time, since I found out maybe a week prior.

      My goal was to de-clutter at that time. Now I want to both de-clutter and to pad the get out of debt fund

  • Reply Mary from SC |

    Living in the South – yard sales are a weekly tradition. I am hesitate to purchase food/drinks from anyone unless they are canned/bottled, etc. Nothing homemade but I’m picky that way. If selling anything electrical, always provide an outlet for the person to try out the product before they purchase it. Also have more than one person there to help you out. I have had people stop by the night before and I have discontinued that. The ones we got were the “professional pickers” that wanted it cheaper than dirt. Not worth my time. Some local charities will come and pick up all your remainders at the end of the day so that makes it easier for packing up and dealing with the leftovers. I figure anything I make on a day off is a bonus so even though it may not seem like $100+ is worth my time…it’s more than I would have made sitting on my sofa watching TV and that much more I can throw towards my debt while getting rid of “stuff”. Good luck.

  • Reply Angella |

    Great tips. I’m also in the south and we love to check out yard sales on the weekends. Most that sales we’ve hosted net about $900 to $1100 over 2 days. I wouldn’t waste my time setting one up and dealing with the people for $100 though! Putting a price tag on every thing is sooo important! I hate when something I’m interest in doesn’t have a price, I don’t want to hunt down the seller and ask. Especially when it’s a multi-family or just a very busy sale.

    I also use Craigslist to sell larger items. Local buy/sell/trade pages are also on Facebook for our area. I’ve found some great items on there. Not much luck selling on FB though.

    • Reply Jim |

      It all depends on what you are doing the yard sale for in my opinion. If your main goal is to minimize your clutter, yard sales are so worth it. I for one didn’t put a price tag on anything. Had signs saying different things. ALL CLOTHES $.50 or 3/$1. Things like that. I have good success getting things on FB, haha haven’t ever tried to sell. I also have good success on EBay as well. But that takes too much time, haha.

  • Reply Kerry |

    In Arizona our seasons are flipped, so garage sale season is November-April. Low expectations are key to selling stuff. I wouldn’t garage sale out here, because of distance–everything is so spread out.

    My sister buys a lot of toys for her kids from garage sales. Her best buy was $5 musical chair that was my niece’s favorite thing for 2 years–it had been dicontinued, but the Amazon reviews were all from parents saying it was their child’s favorite toy.

  • Reply Mary |

    I’ve done them before but they aren’t worth my time. Lots of prep work. The first time I had longer hours and the second time, I decided I’d work it from 8 until noon and that’s it. I made $500. Overall, it’s just not worth it to spend that much time getting ready and then spending a Saturday doing that.

    I have found that I get a better price at Once Upon a Child for selling kid’s clothes. I used to take them in and they’ll buy gently used kid’s clothes. I made a lot of money that way. For other items, I made more money on Craigslist.

    Now, when I buy something new, I donate the old stuff to Goodwill. I sometimes take a tax deduction and sometimes I just drop the stuff off. I rarely have stuff to sell on Craiglist however I don’t have much time for that. I just gave my sister a few items to sell for me and told her she could have 50% for taking the pics and selling it. That way, I don’t have any time invested and I get something. Like I said, I don’t have any real clutter and don’t shop a ton.

  • Reply Nik @ Midlife Finance |

    A yard sale is one of the best ways to Declutter things out of your home. One more suggestion I think to make it work effectively is to sell package items. For example, you can combine shirts and jeans, shoe and socks, buy 1 take 1, etc. and put a reasonable price for those package items.

  • Reply Helene |

    I hate having yard sales. I get that the idea is to get a deal, but people are insulting. If something is a dollar, they can’t just shut up and pay a dollar for something that cost like $25. They have to ask if they can have it for a quarter. It makes me hostile, lol. So I don’t bother.

    Luckily my employer-hosted electronic trading post does a brisk business in kids’ stuff and housewares. People love a deal but are respectful of what things cost originally. If the price is fair, they will generally pay it. And in general the quality of the stuff is better.

  • Reply CanadianKate |

    Just had one last weekend. Made $250. Goal was two-fold: 1) get things out of the house (no place to go in the new place + don’t want to pay movers to move something I don’t want); 2) drive interest in the Open House the following day.

    It rained off and on for the day so valuables were inside. I’m blessed with a foyer that runs from the garage door through to the front door and there’s a door from the front porch back to the garage so there were things inside, on the porch and in the garage, with outdoor items like pool stuff on the driveway so rain wouldn’t hurt.

    People could peek from the foyer into the living room and dining room so could decide if they wanted to see the whole house the following day, and we had feature sheets out. We were selling a monitor so had it up and running a slideshow of house photos (until it sold!)

    Everything big went except for chairs (I have 12 chairs for sale and can’t sell them on our Craig’s list equivalent nor at a sale.) Still there was a small station wagon full of leftovers (which went to Goodwill) plus a van full (the van full went to stock a church rummage sale). A few items I was undecided about selling got moved back inside.

    The china still hasn’t sold but I’m looking to move that all out to an antique dealer.

    In total, since deciding to move 18 months ago, I’ve only made just under $1K on things I’ve sold (both by garage sale and local online sale portal.) A stark reminder that our stuff isn’t worth much. I’ve even had trouble giving away things so some has gone to landfill.

    We are in a small village so we don’t get the traffic people in the city would get (same for selling online – it isn’t worth it to drive 30 minutes for a $5 item or even an item off Freecycle.)

    I did sell 3 bottles of water, though (at 25 cents a bottle – paid 10 cents each.)

So, what do you think ?