Saturday, July 28, 2012

How to Have a Successful Yard Sale

We just had a yard sale this morning, and it went so well I thought I wanted to share some of things we always do to ensure a successful yard sale experience.

1. Get up Early

This is a little bit of an obvious one, but it is so tempting to hit the snooze button in the morning and say, "Well, the yard sale will just start at 9." But, the truth is, by 9 all the hardcore yardsale-ers are just finishing up their rounds. And with the end of their rounds comes the end of the big buyers. If it is possible to get everything out and ready before 8 (that means that you sit down at 8 not you roll out of bed at 8), that would definitely be best. Unfortunately, this falls into the 'do as I say not as I do' category, because we did not leave enough time to pull everything out before the crowds started coming. We probably could have done a little better in the morning if we had been more prepared. Learn from our mistakes!

2. Price your merchandise like you really want it to sell

You are having a yard sale to get rid of things you no longer want/need, right? You aren't going to make a fortune off a yard sale, so you should price your merchandise so that it will actually sell. You should price as many smaller items (like dishes, linens, photo frames, clothing, etc.) under 3 dollars as you can. Bigger items should be priced reasonably as well, and should always be placed in the front of your yard sale so that vehicles can see them from the road.

3. Make your yard sale a shopping experience

If you have a tent to keep your 'customers' out of the shade, use it. Trust me, they will definitely appreciate it, especially if you are having a yard sale in the middle of a hot summer.  This morning, we decorated our tent with some bunting my mom made for a birthday party last summer. The little bit of extra effort gets 'peakers' out of their car and in your front yard. Cover your tables with pretty tablecloths, and organize your merchandise so it is easy to see and find. Gather up plastic bags so you can offer them to people who buy several things at once. Use pretty buckets to organize your goods, and wash and iron clothes for sale.

4. Have a Free Box

Keep a box with some free merchandise at the front of your yard sale. I put old magazines, some boxes, picture frames with 2011 on the front, etc. These things might seem insignificant, but people just can't resist free!

5. Advertise your Yard Sale

Obviously, it is important to hang well placed (eye level) and well marked yard sale signs. However, more and more people have started to use websites like Craig's List to advertise their yard sales. These sites are great, because a lot of people use them and (even better) they are free. My favorite site to use is They have a really great interface and I love that they mark yard sales on an interactive map that users can minimize, maximize, and scroll across.

6. Be prepared to haggle, especially with people who purchase a lot at once

Hardcore yard sale-ers will haggle with you, and you should definitely be prepared for it. Be smart about your haggling, and keep on eye on people that start carrying around a lot of merchandise. Before they come to you to cash out, you should already have an idea of the lowest amount you would take for their haul. If someone seriously undercuts you, even after you cut the price of their stack a dollar or two from the original asking, kindly tell them that you think the merchandise is reasonably priced. Then repeat your previous offer. Most of the time people won't come back again. If they do, be prepared to stand your ground. The trick here is simply to be prepared. On this same vein, I always round to full dollar amounts if it makes sense. For example, if someone is carrying 7.25 worth of merchandise, tell them you'll take 7 for it. Really, I just hate dealing with change, but I think people really appreciate a seller who is gives them just a little bit extra (even if it is just a quarter). Many times, people will go back to looking and come back with a whole different stack of goods when I use this tactic.

So, how did we do? We ended up making right around $220, which according to this study, seems to be close to the national average for yard sales listed on That is good considering we didn't sell any furniture or other big ticket items.

The best part? My mom is donating all the proceeds of the yard sale to help fund my wedding. We haven't decided what we are going to do with it yet, but every penny helps!

What didn't sell?

This lamp:

It is just horrible! My mom priced it at $20 (I think we all know she didn't really want to sell it). I am not surprised at all it didn't sell. I was, however, surprised that 2 people told me how much they liked it. Weird. I just don't see it. Why did my mom want to keep it? 

It was in the house she grew up in. 

In the 1970's. 


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