How to Have a Successful Yard or Garage Sale

The battered old station wagon sputtered and choked its way down the street and up to my front yard.  Rather than parking his car and getting out to survey the contents of my garage sale, the driver opted to gently ease his foot off the brake and coast by my house without even stopping.

“Not another curbside shopper,” my mother exclaimed.

Exhausted by the countless “drive-bys” we had received that day, she and I both retreated to the porch where we could get some shade.

“We must have not advertised well,” I said in our defense.

Looking past boxes and tables of undiscovered treasures, I knew our lack of organization was partly at fault four our lousy sale.  Halfway through unpacking items, my parents advised me of their plans to leave things in boxes.  The rickety old card tables and makeshift saw horse contraptions held more than their weight in cast away objects.  Pricing items had become a problem for us as well.  Often paying double for items at auctions, my parents hoped to receive a fair price form them once they hit the yard.

“We’ll be lucky to make $50 today,” I said defeated. I should have tried selling more stuff online.

The hassle of lugging box after box to the curb had gotten the best of me.  “I really wanted to get rid of that mini fridge of mine,” I cried, knowing how much the sale of it would help my finances and storage issues.

“Maybe we should have stuck with lemonade,” my father piped in referring to the neighbor kid’s success in selling the cool beverage.  I didn’t want to admit it but I agreed with him completely.

After repacking dozens of boxes of yard sale rejects, I came to this conclusion.  In order to have a successful sale, one must incorporate some order into its preparation.  Tried and true tips include:

  • Advertising in the newspaper is never enough. Brightly colored, poster board signs should be placed throughout town directing potential buyers towards your house.  Tying streamers or balloons to your mailbox makes it easier to spot the sale from a distance.
  • Place like items together on tables. No one wants to sort through box after box of jumbled items.  Placing knick knacks together on one table and electronic items together on another makes it easier to appeal to a wider group of buyers.  People will be forced to stop and physically look at the items before driving away.
  • Clean and repair items before pricing them. Try to include the original box or package that they came in.  If there is warranty information for a product, put it in a freezer bag and place it with the item.
  • Hang and size all clothing. Group them together accordingly.  If there are a lot of name brand items, include them in your classified advertisement.  People love a bargain and are more likely to shop sales where specific items are listed.  Men are especially interested in appliances, tools and furniture.
  • Remember to charge a fair price for your items without giving them away. The object of a sale is to make some money and free up space in your garage or home.  If you are unsure about the value of an item, put it aside and have it appraised.  It’s better to hang onto an object for a little bit longer than sell it for the wrong price.
  • Sell baked goods and beverage throughout the day. People grow tired and thirsty.  Young children can’t resist a chocolatey treat and will let their mothers know about it rather loudly.  Some of the best profits I’ve made were by selling cans of soda and store bought donuts to weary shoppers.
  • Get together with your neighbors and have a neighborhood sale.  You’ll double your earning potential this way.  Garage and yard sales are often scattered across town.  By the time a person drives to one, the good stuff is sold at the other.  Allowing customers to move quickly between sales will be very beneficial to all those involved.
  • Advertise your leftovers on Freecycle or Craigslist. Pack away only the best items and allow the scavengers the opportunity to cart off the rest.  You’ll thank yourself repeatedly for this.
  • Last but not least, go to garage sales for research purposes. Think about which sales were the most successful and appealing.  Think about the ones that weren’t.  Think in terms of traffic, price and quality of items.  Was it easier to shop alone on Thursday or would you have rather battled the crowds on Saturday?  Was $25 too much to ask for that piece of pottery or two little?  Was the seller willing to bargain with the prices?

The next sale we had was a complete success.  Taking into consideration the tips listed here, I assure you that your next one will be too.

Author: Charissa

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5 comments
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Thank you for this post because it gave me so much great information.

Tim says:
Tim says:

Hi Charissa, Thanks for the good tips we have a 100 mile yard sale that the county has here every year. All these tips will come in handy.

Hunter
Hunter

I love a good garage sale. Military families like ours like to have them before packing-out and moving...nothing worse than unpacking your unwanted junk again and again.

The refreshment idea works. We use the Wall Drug store idea of offering everyone a cool cup of water. Some people feel obliged to buy something after they accept.

I wrote a piece on this topic on Mar 25. Please check it out.