You've probably been on the customer side of a tag sale, whether you found a rare antique treasure or haggled the perfect price for a "new-to-you" piece of furniture. But being on the other side of the table is a totally different experience.
If you're moving to a new place or purging after a massive spring cleaning, a yard sale or garage sale is a great way to line your pockets with a little cash. Follow our garage sale tips and tricks, and you're sure to turn your trash into another man's treasure.
1. Decide What to Sell at Your Yard Sale
We can all agree that the most important part of a yard sale is the stuff. Spend time sorting through your storage spaces, basement, attic, and garage, and don't forget outdoor areas like your backyard shed, either.
Look for top-selling garage sale items, like kids' clothes and toys, small furniture, power tools, yard work and gardening tools, and exercise equipment. Items that tend not to sell as well include large furniture (it is more expensive, and more difficult to transport), very old items, and anything over $50. Also reconsider selling high-quality items (antiques, brand name clothing, expensive china or silverware, etc.). You may be better off placing an online ad to find the right buyer.
Check out some home organization sites to help you sort through all that stuff (this is a great chance to get organized, too!). Collect small items in baskets or boxes, and pull large items out so that you don’t have to re-sift through every room in your house. If you don’t have space to pile the items together, make a yard sale checklist on your phone to keep track of what you've decided to sell.
2. Check If You Need a Permit to Have a Yard Sale
Depending on where you live, your town may have restrictions about when and how you host a yard sale. Get online a few weeks before your sale and check to see what the rules are and if you need a special permit.
If you live in the city, you have a few extra things to consider:
- Consider getting permission from the city to block off space in front of your house, if needed. You don’t want people to drive away because they can’t find a parking spot.
- Make sure you obtain parking passes or permits if you need them.
- Be a good neighbor and notify the surrounding houses of your sale so they aren’t shocked by the (hopefully) crowded street.
3. Brainstorm Creative Yard Sale Ideas
Here are a few creative yard sale ideas that can help you sell more:
- Choose a time each hour or each day where everything will be 25 or 50 percent off (for example, every hour on the hour, for 10 minutes). People will stick around and wait for that time, causing them to browse even more.
- Similarly, at the end of each day, do a "bag sale"; that is, anything that fits in a bag sells for one base price.
- Run an extension cord to your yard sale area so that customers can ensure any electrical items are in working order.
- Sell soda, water, and snacks! This idea is so easy, and a great way to make extra money.
4. Make It a Group Sale
One top tag sale tip to ensure success is to make it a group sale. The more items you have, the better—and the more people you have to help you, the better, too! Passersby are more likely to stop and buy more if the sale looks plentiful. Here are some more tips for group garage sales:
- Make sure all items are quality and not just junk to bulk up a sale.
- Communicate ahead of time with your sale partner(s) about your strategy. Will you combine all items and split the profits, or keep things separate?
- If you want to keep your items and profits separate, consider the following: Will you have separate zones for your stuff and theirs? Or will you use different color price tags to differentiate?
5. Choose Your Yard Sale Date
You may think any weekend in the summer will make for a well-attended yard sale, but think again. You need to factor in holidays as well as local events. You don't want to plan a yard sale the same day as a large festival in your town that could pull away potential customers. Also think about things like bike races or 5Ks that may cause road closures or crowded conditions for your customers.
Of course, one thing you can't control is the weather. However, one fix for weather issues can be to make your yard sale a two-day event. This way, if one day rains out, you’re still advertised and prepared for the second day.
6. Promote Your Yard Sale
When it comes to promoting your yard sale, print isn't dead. The classic method of posting flyers/posters throughout town is still a great way to advertise, especially if you:
- Create bright, eye-catching yard sale signs using lamination and easy design tools.
- Make all your signs look the same, so people can easily follow the route to the sale.
- Strategically place your signs at high-traffic corners, long red lights, and popular destinations around town.
- Follow your town’s restrictions to avoid having signs removed and being fined for a city code violation.
Newspaper ads are still great places to advertise, too. Many have local yard sale sections that yard-sale junkies always peruse. Make sure your ad for these pages is compelling, as it will be surrounded by other ads for the same thing.
Of course, digital is always important. Craigslist is the top spot you should post an online classified. You should also go social: make a public event on Facebook, tweet about your sale, and post photos of your unique items on Instagram. Getting the word out through social media is quick, easy, and can have a high impact.
Don't forget the most important information in your advertisements: date, time, and address! Though it seems obvious, it's not uncommon to forget at least one of these.
7. Learn How to Price Yard Sale Items
To have a successful yard sale, pricing is important. Here's how to price yard sale items to see the most success:
- Clearly mark items with large, visible price tags. If you’re feeling creative, use special colored tags to mark any unique items.
- You can also put prices on signs near items, for example, "Everything on this table, $2."
- Keep prices rounded to the dollar to make them the easiest to read.
- Price objectively, and be willing to lower the price for those who like to haggle.
Related tip: You can never have too much change. Make sure you have all denominations, and lots of it.
8. Organize Your Yard Sale Items
Wondering how to prepare for the yard sale? Getting organized is key. Here are the best tips for arranging your items:
- Always classify items by category, for example, all kitchen items should be together.
- If possible, stage your items like a home. If you have furniture and lamps for sale, arrange them to look like a living room.
- Your larger, more eye-catching items should be closest to the road to attract people driving by.
- Finally, don’t forget about aesthetics: use clean, sturdy tables and nice baskets/boxes to hold small items—just make sure to mark them "not for sale."
Got a lot of clothes? We've got plenty of yard sale ideas for hanging clothes:
- Take the time to sort items by size. Only the most hardcore yard-sale junkies enjoy rifling through racks and racks of clothing looking for their size.
- Have one rack that holds a few of your nicest outfits; these are likely to sell for more money, and will appeal to a certain type of customer.
- Display baby and kids' clothes on tables—there's no need to hang these smaller items.
- Make sure there's enough space for two people between racks.
9. Have a Post-Sale Plan
After the big tag sale is finally over, pat yourself on the back and count your cash! Have a plan for what you are going to do with unsold items. If the items were in yard sale condition, they are probably worth donating to a charity or to a family member or friend in need of furnishings. Or, if you have the space, you can always keep them for your next yard sale!
When it comes to yard or garage sales, you'll always get out of them what you put in. That means if you're willing to do the work, and follow these yard sale tips and tricks, you should see a return on your time investment that's well worth it.