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How to Plan for a Successful Yard Sale

How to Plan for a Successful Yard Sale
Written by Irina Vasilescu

You’ve caught spring fever and its abundant energy, and new life force is pumping through your veins. Take advantage of those feelings before you settle into the languid laziness of summer. It’s the perfect time for a yard sale to give you a clean start and a clear house.

A yard sale is the best follow-up on a large spring-cleaning. You’ve cleaned and tidied your home. You’ve sorted the treasures and must-keeps from the accumulated jumble accumulated over the years. You’re almost at the point of hiring a storage unit to store all the things you no longer want or need.

No, stop right there!

You don’t want to undo the good you’ve done. Imagine going through all this again, dealing with the same old things, and still not knowing whether or not you should keep them for just a little longer.
Act now, set up a yard sale and let all this baggage go while spring is still in the air. You may not get rich but definitely will save you some money on storage. It will also be easier to keep your house clean, better utilize the space now available and mean that next year’s spring clean will be a breeze by comparison.

Planning your yard sale

You could just take the jumble as is and put the existing boxes on the front lawn. Someone might take the trouble to search through each one in the hope of finding a treasure. You could then come up with a price under pressure from the buyer and get involved in haggling over it.

You could also take a professional approach to the yard sale, doing your homework on what you have to sell, what its value is, and whether some other sale outlet might be preferable.

Make sure you check local regulations about holding the yard sale in the first place and where you are allowed to advertise it.

Separate the good stuff

Do your homework and sort your products into categories according to their value. If your items are collectibles or antiques, set them aside for sale through outlets likely to earn you more than they would at a yard sale.

Collectibles include unusual items made before the 70’s when mass production really got underway. These can include vinyl records (especially those by the Beatles); old toys from the 40s through 60s, and some sports equipment.

How to Plan for a Successful Yard Sale

Get organized!

Picking a date

Saturdays are good provided you don’t leave everything to the last minute. Make sure everything is sorted the weekend before if you are working, or organise your week carefully if you are a stay at home mother.

Avoid holiday weekends as many of the residents who could be interested in your goods could be away on vacation, and visitors would probably rather spend their money on tourist-orientated wares.

Be sure to advertise

Notices on community notice boards, posters in your yard, even advertisements in the local media, are all options. You need to get the message out there in an attractive way. A yard sale is only as successful as the number of feet it brings through the gate.

Attach real values

  • Let go of sentiment – It’s no use hanging onto the thought of what the item cost in the first place. Even if it is a gift someone gave you or an item you inherited from your grandmother, sentiment should not pay a role, as it’s not producing you any money in this case. Sentiment can be cruel if it means the things keep popping up every time you spring clean.
  • The condition of the item – If it is still like new and reasonably up to date, you could look at asking about 40% of what you paid for it. Otherwise, think lower, sell cheaper and end up with money for something that had no value left in it for you.
  • Check on going rates – See what you would pay for something similar on Craigslist or a thrift shop or resale site and work out a price accordingly.
  • Finding a balance – Setting too high a price or turning down a lower offer can end up costing you money in the end. You may never get another offer because the item will be decreasing in value all the time. Also, even if you do get a bit more, in the end, it will be worth less because of inflation.
  • Clothing – If you can, think about the season. Preferably keep winter clothes packed and ready for another yard sale in autumn and stick to summer clothes in spring. Price according to fashion, designer name as well as the condition of the garments.
How to Plan for a Successful Yard Sale

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  • Don’t spoil the good by offering too much of the bad – Too many worn out, faded garments with missing buttons will mar your chances of selling the good clothes for a better price. Rather keep them to use for patchwork quilts or as cleaning rags. You could even tear up some and bundle them for sale as such at your yard sale.

Make bundles

You’ve still got books, CDs, kitchenware and a mountain of other things left over? You can’t even begin to think of individual prices and you know it’s going to take ages to sell all of them one at a time. So bundle them, put together a couple of gardening books, a six-pack of crime novels, or a bundle of cookery books.

Be creative in your groupings, thinking about how the items gel as a unit. Sometimes it will mean you get more hard cash in your hands. Sometimes it will just mean it is easier to sell more. Both times you win.

You could, for example, sell individually an old cake mixer, recipe books and mixing bowls. That’s quite a few sales to make. Bundled together as an all-you-need baking unit, a mixer, mixing bowl, flour sifter and recipe book might be very attractive to a buyer and net you a good price.

Find display stuff amongst the jumble

Display your wares well, this it’s the secret to good marketing. The aim is to attract customers by letting them see something they like – and that’s not a pile of old, torn cartons that could be filled with almost anything.

Among the things you sorted during your big spring clear-out, there may be large planks or old doors, and old crates that could be used to raise them to display level. Old, unsaleable curtains could be used to cover the make-shift tables. Poles, broomsticks or wash line, could be used to show off clothing.

It might be a jumble sale, but the sale doesn’t have to be a jumble. Try and arrange items in different “departments”, and set them up in the most suitable area of your yard. Let people browse according to their interests instead of having to all gather in one place.

To team up or not to team up with your neighbours

A bigger sale attracts a bigger crowd with more chance of sales. Merging a sale with your neighbour could be a nightmare regarding pricing conflicts, competition for sales and separation of takings. An alternative is to have separate sales on the same day in your own yards.

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How to Plan for a Successful Yard Sale

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About the author

Irina Vasilescu

Irina Vasilescu is our money-saving and DIY expert and also the editor-in-chief as she's always on the lookout for the latest online deals.


  • In my area once a year in the summer there is a town that shuts the main street down and there is table after table of items for sale all used of course. Some of it is from thrift stores and others are people doing a yard sale. Some people go that route to avoid advertising. My town has a facebook page for yardsales. People post when they are having one and surprisingly a lot of people love attending them.

  • One of the main failings of yard sales is that people don’t bother to check how much things are worth, and as such they don’t make enough money from the things that they’re selling. In my opinion, this is a complete waste, and something that will lose you plenty of money in the long term. So make sure you understand properly how much your items are worth. People can always ask you to reduce the price if you want to, and perhaps you will choose to do so, but if you start with a price that is already too low, you don’t have anywhere to go with it.

    • This is true, but you should mind that most people buy stuff from yard sales because they want to save something, not because they’re looking for valuable things (sure, some do, but they’re not the majority), so displaying too high prices will scare away the ones who are just passing by: in fact, chances are all of your customers won’t be looking for something in particular, so you should try to attract them with competitive prices.

  • I think a yard sale would be the equivalent of what we call a ‘car boot sale’ in the UK. This is where you turn up with your car full of stuff to sell at a designated place along with hundreds of other sellers. It’s usually around £5.00 for your ‘pitch’. I’ve made some pretty good money doing this as people will generally buy pretty much anything – as the saying goes ‘one man’s trash is another man’s treasure’.

  • I love a good yard sale! I have found some amazing good deals at yard sales. I love it when the weather warms up and you just see those sales ads pop up all over the neighborhood. I bought a brand new desk for $10 because the couple was in need of having someone haul it away (they were moving out of state). I love to buy books at yard sales and old movies.

  • I love good yard sales. I have hag a quite a few successful yard sales myself. I find that if you post a price on each item it helps with confusing to the customers. also if you have clothing for Sale make a list of prices for each category of clothing at tape it to the table where the clothes. For instance: shirts .75 pants 1.25, dresses 2.00 etc etc. This way customers know the prices before hand. also accept offers that customers suggest. if you have an item priced at $5 and the customer offers $4 take it, cause in reality a yard sale is meant to get rid of unwanted items. Be reasonable with all prices and have all youth items displayed where they are easy to see. Happy yard saling to all.

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