Whether your motivation comes from reading Marie Kondō’s best-selling book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, or just the simple desire to free up more space, a yard sale is a great way to turn your “trash” into someone else’s treasure—and make a few extra bucks in the process.
Investing some time in planning, sorting and marketing your yard sale can make a big difference in your success and profits. After all the effort you’re putting into de-cluttering, the last thing you want to do is cart everything that didn’t sell back into your house. Follow these tips to make your yard sale a smashing success!
Setting the Perfect Date for Your Yard Sale
If you’ve never hosted a yard sale before, you’ll find that there’s quite a bit involved in getting ready. The Spruce has a yard sale timeline/checklist that can help you see what’s involved, and schedule enough time to get your yard sale pre-tasks done.
You’ll want to give yourself plenty of time to get ready for your sale. The Spruce recommends estimating the time you think it will take you to get ready, and then tripling that amount
- Beyond that, schedule your sale around the end of the week, Friday, and over the weekend – but you’ll want to avoid holiday weekends when many people head out of town. It’s also a good idea to plan your sale around common paydays, which are the 1st and 15th of the month.
- Plan on starting your sale as early as 7 a.m. Die-hard yard-salers will already be waiting for the sale to start.
Securing Your Permit
Check with a clerk at your city office to find out if you need a permit to run a yard sale. Play by the rules to avoid getting slapped with a fine, or having your sale shut down
Gather Your Items
While this can be the hardest step in the yard-sale process, it’s important to do this thoroughly if you’re serious about de-cluttering. This process may take you several days, to several weeks. Starting with one room at a time, decide what you want to sell, what goes in the trash, and what you’d like to donate.
Price to Sell
Grab a pile of brightly-colored stickers and a fine-tipped sharpie and get to work!
- If you’re not sure how much to price your items, head to Craigslist list to gather some pricing research. Make sure you limit your research to the same geographic region, as prices can fluctuate depending upon your area
- Price in increments of 25¢ or 50¢, to make it easier and faster to make change during the sale
- Rock-bottom prices ensure items sell, but make sure you leave enough room in your pricing for haggling. Most yard-salers will expect it, and think negotiating on price is part of the fun!
- Group similar items around a single price point. For example, all books, $1, all DVDs $2. The same strategy works for vases, votive holders, or any other items that you can group together under one price point
Craigslist is some of the most popular places to post information about your sale. Here are specific instructions on how to advertise your yard sale on Craigslist, which includes setting up your account, if you don’t already have one
- Your neighborhood may have an online bulletin board where locals list items they have for sale. To find it, google “your neighborhood, and yard sale” to see what comes up
- Run your ad in the classified section of your printed local newspaper – not every shopper checks Craigslist
- Take individual photos of your most popular items to post on Craigslist. People are interested in the details of your items, not seeing the background clutter of the rest of the stuff you’re selling
- Include a map to your sale
- Post on online sites multiple times—a few days before the sale, and then on each sale
- Post again the early morning the day of the sale. Serious yard-salers like to plan their day and head out early to get first choice of the merchandise
- Post during the sale, with photos of what’s left and let everyone know you’re slashing prices, and that there are still plenty of treasures left
Posting signs the day of your sale is great way to ensure extra traffic and leads those who found your ad to the right spot. You’ll need to check with the local police station to find out where you are allowed to post signs, and if there are any restrictions on size, type or color. Once you’ve received the go-ahead, follow these guidelines for your signs:
- Keep it simple. All you need are the words, “Yard Sale” in big letters, with an arrow and an address. You can also include the words of your biggest sellers, such as “Baby Clothes,” or “Tools,” but try to keep the sign as clutter-free as possible
- If the forecast does call for heavy rain, cover your signs in clear packing tape to make them “waterproof”
- Use brightly colored poster board, and write with a permanent Sharpie, which won’t if it rains
- You’ll need several signs so that you can blanket all the intersections around your sale with signs and directions. Install signs with thick arrows at each turn, with a final sign at the sale to mark the spot
- If the city prevents you from taping or stapling your signs to utility poles and street signs, stake them in the ground. Wood paint stirrers, often free from the paint store, make the perfect post to staple your yard sale sign and stake it into the ground
- Wait until the last minute to post signs. The morning of, or the night before. Otherwise, you’ll have buyers at your door too early
Yard Sale Supplies to Have the Day of the Sale
- Cash and coins to make change
- Provide each “seller” with a fanny pack or carpenter’s apron. Keep the money here, so that you’re free to walk around and answer questions. It also keeps the money off the table, unattended
- A calculator – you’ll need it in the crazy, fast-paced atmosphere of the sale
- Notebook and pen to keep track of sales, Another option is to collect stickers off the items once it sells, and re-stick the stickers inside the notebook
- Plenty of tables, baskets, shelves and boxes to display your stuff on the lawn (see below )
- Tape measure, so buyers can measure furniture
- Garment rack –for clothes, if you’re selling them
- Extension cords, so buyers can test electrical equipment
- Boxes and bags to help buyers carry off their finds
- stick them in the notebook, so that you’ll be able to move around during the sale
Organize Your Yard Like A Boutique
Starting off by having your sale organized by room, or category will help your buyers find what they’re looking for faster and will lead to more sales. Nothing leads to frustration quicker than having to sort through piles of stuff just to find a treasure.
- Organize by room – kitchen supplies and equipment goes in one area, linens in another, and baby toys in another. Holiday decorations, get their own separate spot
- Post signs for each “section” of your boutique
- If you’re selling jewelry, you can display them in a cardboard box – but line the box with a dark, rich fabric to show off the sparkle
- If you have a lot of small similar items, put them in a single container, with a sign for one price
- Place books, CDs, and DVDs together in boxes or baskets, with the spines facing out so that buyers can easily see them
- You can find inexpensive portable clothing racks for clothes, and use hangers to display them the way you would find them in a store
Protect Yourself and Your Buyers
Repair any loose railings or cracked concrete that could cause someone to trip or fall. Make sure your sale is in an area where there is enough space for customers to move around safely.
- Avoid placing items too close to stairs and ledges where people can fall.
- Both homeowners and renters insurance provide liability protection to protect you against bodily injury or property damage lawsuits that you or your family members cause to other people. This coverage pays for both the cost of defending you in court and court awards—up to the limit of your policy.
- If you want additional liability insurance, you may want to consider purchasing an umbrella policy.
If you’re unsure if you have enough liability coverage, contact a Cole Harrison agent to review your policy to ensure you have the right coverage at the right price.