10 Tips for a Successful Yard Sale



Being broke sucks. You know what really sucks? Having the desire to do things and plan things that you realistically cannot afford. Things like weddings, vacations, trips, Christmas, I could go on and on.

Currently, my two big things are:

1. Buying a large piece of carpet (around 250 square feet) for our living room so that as our 6mo old daughter starts crawling and falling she doesn’t crack her skull on the concrete floors. Seriously, I do not recommend concrete floors.

2. Our wedding.

In that order, actually.

Now, I haven’t done much as far as pricing of the carpet that I need, because I know me. I will start by pricing carpet pieces and then it will turn into a home building fantasy and picking out wall colors to match the beautiful carpet that I just picked out for my dream home that I’m not building any time soon. So, instead what I am doing is having a yard sale.

Missing the connection? I need a sum of money that I don’t want to take out of our regular checking account. Yes, it’s there, but I’d rather not spend it. This doesn’t solve my carpet/concrete/skull fracture dilemma though. So what I did was spent the better part of a week going through my house from top to bottom. I scoured the back corners of closets, went through baby clothes, movies, dishes, linens, you name it, all of it. I packed them all up, and I’m having a yard sale this Saturday. I’m hoping to make around $200, that’s my sweet spot. If I make more than that, I will be SO happy, but $200 is the goal.

Here is what I did.

1. Talked to a girlfriend about hosting it at her house (I will admit, when I asked her, it was because she had mentioned to me a few weeks back that she had some large items that she needed to sell, so I figured it would be easier for me to come to her and we could do a double-sale. She no longer needs to sell those items, but she still offered to host because her neighborhood gets way more traffic. She’s even providing the sweet nectar that is commonly referred to as a “Bloody Mary” for the occasion, as long as I bring the vodka…..step one, find friends like this….or find a heavily trafficked area, but friends are more fun.)

2. Go through everything. If you haven’t worn/used it in 6 months, get rid of it. You could even be generous and go with 1 year. Somehow, over time we accumulate stuff. Stuff takes up room in your home and your life. Stuff = money, and we hate money, remember? Don’t get rid of the stuff that has some deep sentimental value, I’m not heartless. Well, not completely anyway. If you’ve had it since high school, get rid of it. unless of course, you’re IN high school. Are you?

3. Make super obnoxious in your face signs. Really bright, the brighter the better. Use BLACK marker. Write big, bold, thick letters. don’t use a puny sharpie and wonder why people didn’t show up. It’s hard to see and read signs as you’re driving that look like a 4 year old wrote them with mommies eyeliner. Clear, bold, big letters. Include “YARD SALE” the address, the time, and the date. Try to post these signs strategically. I try to post them at all stop signs and traffic lights within 1/4 mile from the sale location. You could go further, but I’m cheap. Going further means more signs. Also, arrows on the signs help, an address is only good if someone knows the area well or has a GPS.

4. When it comes to kitchen stuff, if it doesn’t belong in a set or if you don’t have the whole set, get rid of it. You can buy yourself a new set with the money that you make from the sale.

5. Pack it all up, then spend $20 at WalMart getting signs, markers, price tags and price it all. Now here is the tricky part. You want to price it yard sale prices (CHEAP) but you don’t want to completely lose your tush on it. A good guideline is to charge 5-10% of what you actually paid for it or what it retails for brand new. Obviously some things hold value and some things lose value. Shoes, lose value. Don’t try to sell a $150 pair of shoes for $50 at a yard sale. Nobody will buy them. That stuff is best reserved for eBay. When you price, price things evenly. Don’t use .05, .10, .15 or similar. Keep it simple. .25, .50, .75 – it’s easier to add up in your head, it’s easier to make change from quarters, and it’s easier for shoppers.

6. Make it fun. Most people don’t enjoy hosting yard sales, know what helps with that? Booze. Mimosa, a bloody mary, margaritas, whiskey, whatever, pick your poison.

7. Let them haggle. Lemme tell ya somethin friends, yard salers love to haggle. It makes them feel like they are getting a deal. If their total comes to $28.50, offer it up for $25. They’ll feel good, you’ll make them happy, and they will in turn call fellow yard sale friends up and tell them to come check your sale out. Plus then you don’t have to deal with finding spare dollars and quarters for change.

8. Just deal with it. Early birds come early because they WANT to buy. They want the good stuff. Yes, being outside at 5am on a Saturday morning SUCKS, but you know what doesn’t suck? Walking away with money that you didn’t have when you went outside at 5am.

9. Provide these two things:

Change (seriously, go get change. I like to have about $60 in 5’s and 1’s and like $5 in quarters.

Bags. We all know that you save plastic shopping bags, use them. If you don’t save them, go to the cheapest store in your area and get small trash bags. The cost of a box of them is around $3. Just spend the $3.

10. Probably the MOST important. Oldest trick in the book. CUSTOMER SERVICE. Don’t be a jerk. Be nice, be friendly, be outgoing. You don’t have to have a conversation about your whole life story, and you don’t need to ask about theirs. A simple, “Hi! How y’all doin today? You lookin for anything in particular?” will suffice. If they aren’t looking for anything in particular, smile and say, “Ok, well just let me know if you need anything” then, you have been outgoing and friendly but not pushy. If they ARE looking for something specific and you don’t have it, offer up a suggestion about where they might be able to find one cheap. Suggest local thrift shops and stores, strike up a short conversation about what they are looking for. It keeps them there shopping around, the longer they are there, the more likely they will find something that they think they need.

Of course, some shoppers are just assholes, but don’t stoop to their level. Be nice, after they leave pour yourself another drink.

I will post an update of my sale on Saturday, it might not get posted until Sunday actually. That whole “write drunk, edit sober” thing comes to mind.

Good Luck!!!


One response »

  1. LOL! I had a garage sale once and I swore I’d never do it again! However, I like the way you think. If I apply #6, I might just be able to handle another garage sale. Maybe next year…

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