Spring is just around the corner and that means it’s yard sale season! Yard sales and garage sales are a great way to clear out your unwanted junk and make some extra money.
If you’ve never had a yard or garage sale, there are a few things you should do to make sure yours is successful.
1. Start cleaning out your unwanted junk early.
Don’t wait until two days before your yard sale to start gathering up stuff to sell. You need time to really go through your home and garage and get everything you can. If you haven’t purged stuff in a long time, this could take a substantial amount of time. Give yourself plenty of time to not only go through everything, but to get it all sorted.
2. Find a good staging area.
You need a place where you can put everything before the yard sale, get it cleaned up, and price it. Pick a place that is preferably not in your main living area.
3. Start looking for tables and clothing racks and other things to lay your items on.
You may need to ask all of your family and friends if they can spare folding tables and clothing racks and other items that can be used to place items during your sale. Be sure to make note of who let you borrow each thing so that you can get everything back to the right person as soon as possible after your sale. I have used large, empty, cardboard boxes as “tables” at some of my garage sales. You can put some things on the ground too, but people really prefer not having to bend or stoop to get a look at things.
4. Decide on a date and time for the sale.
Don’t have it during the cold weather months. Consider having it on two days. Sometimes Friday night and all day Saturday works well. Or, you might want to have it on two Saturdays in a row. If you are doing it outside, you might want to have an alternative date in place in case of rain. Also, be prepared for early birds. If you advertise that you are starting at 8am, be prepared for people to show up at 7am or even earlier. It will happen. Just be ready for it.
5. Price things, and price them realistically.
Some people don’t put prices on things and expect customers to make an offer on everything. This might work ok for some, but in general, most people don’t like to guess. On the other hand, assume that you will have people who want to haggle no matter what you price things at. Be flexible on the price. Just because that dress cost $50 and was only worn once doesn’t mean that someone is going to pay $35 for it at a yard sale. You might be lucky to get $5. Be prepared for that. Yard sale shoppers are bargain hunters. Don’t take it personally.
6. Take the emotion out of it.
Yes, these things were your personal treasures at some point, but no one else cares. Your shoppers are there to find bargains. They don’t care that little Johnny used to play with that toy when he was a child. That means to also take the emotion out of your pricing too. Your memories associated with the item don’t raise the item’s value.
Be sure to place ads in both online and local papers that are popular among your local yard sale shoppers. For example, in the town I used to live in there was a free paper that was nothing but classified ads. Nearly every yard sale was advertised there and the regular yard sale shoppers knew that and relied on it religiously. I also put a listing on Craigslist. And put details! List out some of the things you are going to be selling, especially if you have something special like furniture or baby items. Those are popular items to buy at yard sales. Put your address and the dates and times. On Craigslist, which is free, post pictures of some of the things you are selling.
8. Buy or make signs.
You can find very inexpensive and professionally made yard sale signs at Dollar Tree, Lowe’s, and Home Depot. Here are some from Amazon. You want to make sure the signs are in bold, bright colors, and are easy to read. If you make your own, be sure the letters are big enough to see from a passing car. Don’t put too much information on the sign because people in cars won’t be able to read it. Put signs at major intersections near your neighborhood to get the attention of cars who might not be driving down your street.
9. Get plenty of change.
On the day of the sale, there will be people who try to buy a $.50 item with a $20 bill. Be prepared for that. Have plenty of dollar bills and quarters. Also, have a safe place to hold your money. They may not be fashionable, but this is one place where a waist or fanny pack is a great idea. By keeping the money on your body, it is less likely to be stolen. And it allows you to walk around and help people without having to carry anything.
10. Make sure people know you are in charge.
Be sure you are visible. If there are a lot of people walking around, it may be difficult for customers to figure out who to pay. Put a sign up or wear a special hat or something that gets people’s attention. Greet people when they arrive. Make small talk. You want people to be able to find you when the time comes to pay, or if they have questions about something.
11. Sell bottles of water or lemonade.
Get a cooler and fill it with bottled water and sell them for $1 each. Or, if you have kids, let them have a lemonade stand. These are great ways to bring in more money and you can teach your older kids the value of working for money. Your customers will appreciate it too, especially if it’s a hot day.
12. Throughout the sale, keep things organized.
As people buy stuff, you will start to have some empty spaces. Don’t be afraid to move things around so that it can be seen better, as more space opens up. Some things just get overlooked, but if you can spread things out, they are more likely to be seen.
13. Arrange for all leftover items to be donated at the end of the sale.
You do not want to bring the leftovers back into your house. The point of the yard sale is to get rid of things. If it doesn’t sell, it’s still time to say good-bye. There are some charity organizations that will gladly come and pick up everything at the end of the day. Or, borrow a truck or van and take it yourself.
Garage and yard sales are great ways to clean out your unwanted things and earn some extra cash at the same time. They can be a lot of work, but if you advertise well, have good weather, and are in a decent location, they can also be quite lucrative. I usually make several hundred dollars when I have one. They can even be sort of fun.
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Quick Links to Info on this Page:
- 1 1. Start cleaning out your unwanted junk early.
- 2 2. Find a good staging area.
- 3 3. Start looking for tables and clothing racks and other things to lay your items on.
- 4 4. Decide on a date and time for the sale.
- 5 5. Price things, and price them realistically.
- 6 6. Take the emotion out of it.
- 7 7. Advertise
- 8 8. Buy or make signs.
- 9 9. Get plenty of change.
- 10 10. Make sure people know you are in charge.
- 11 11. Sell bottles of water or lemonade.
- 12 12. Throughout the sale, keep things organized.
- 13 13. Arrange for all leftover items to be donated at the end of the sale.
- 14 Make money at home!