Friday, September 6, 2013

11 Tips for Hosting a Great Yard Sale

One time I held a yard sale where I made $8. Just to rub salt in my wounds, my friend had a yard sale the same weekend and brought in over $500. How did he do it? That's exactly what I wanted to find out. So I scoured the internet and asked all the experts for their best tips and put them together just for you.

1. Collect your items all throughout the year. Then do a final sweep of your home a few weeks prior to the sale to gather any remaining items.

2. Create a schedule to get it all done. Organizing a garage sale can be a lot of work, but if you do it right it is worth the effort.
  • A few weeks before - gather your items
  • The week before - prepare your price tags, label your items, figure out how your will display your items for sale, list your sale in the Iwanna and other newspapers.
  • The week of the sale - gather tables from friends and family for displaying items, post signs in your neighborhood
  • The day before - get cash for making change, a calculator for totaling sales, reusable bags for bagging items and newspaper for packing breakables
3. Team up with family or neighbors to have a bigger sale. More items for sale means more variety and more traffic. It also means you have more hands to help with the work.

4. Pick a good location. Not every house is in an ideal location to host a garage sale.
  • How difficult is it to get to your home? If you live way off the beaten path, you may want to hold the sale at a friend’s house or think about taking your things to the flea market.
  • Do you live in a neighborhood? If you are in a neighborhood with a homeowner’s association, make sure you check the rules about holding sales at your home. Also, consider whether you have enough parking for 4 or 5 additional cars near your home.
  • If you are planning to have the sale in your yard rather than your driveway or garage, make sure the lawn has been cut recently (but not so recent as to have grass clippings everywhere) and that you don’t have any tripping hazards (like ruts or holes).
5. Pick a good day and time. The best times of year are late spring and early fall when it is neither too hot or too cold. Do not pick a holiday or event weekend. Open by 7am and plan to be there until 3pm at least. And make sure to check the weather forecast and have a contingency plan in case of rain.

6. Make sure everything has a price. Many people will not ask the price if it is not marked and you will lose a sale. Placing the price tags on the top of the item makes them easy to find. Price lots of things under $1 and price most things under $5. If a price is not negotiable, put “firm” on the tag. Post a sign that says “All Sales Final” to avoid people making returns. Make sure that anything you don’t want to sell is put away out of sight.

7. Price things to sell. Prices should be about 25% of the original price or less. However, if you anticipate a lot of haggling, make your prices 20% higher than your rock-bottom price, so you will have room to negotiate. One exception is clothing, which needs to be marked down considerably. Adult clothes should be priced no more than a couple of dollars. If you have nicer clothes to sell, consider going to a consignment store to get more money. If you hold your sale for multiple days, make sure to discount leftover items on the last day.

8. Advertise your sale.
  • Make sure to post plenty of signs directing people to your location. You should have signs or arrows every couple of blocks along the route. Your sign should include the date, time and address for your sale. Signs must be on rigid material (like cardboard) and legible (use big black marker, not pencil). Keep all your signs the same color, so they will be recognizable and add some balloons to really catch people’s eye. Drive by your signs after posting them to make sure they can be read from the road.
  • Post ads in the newspaper and online. Iwanna is a great place to post garage sale ads and it’s free to post online at
  • Post notices on community bulletin boards (grocery store, community centers, church, coffee shops)
  • Tell all your friends and co-workers to spread the word.
  • Send an email to your network of friends and family to tell them about the sale.
  • Mention your garage sale on Facebook (you can even create a Facebook event and invite all of your friends).
  • Google “yard sale finder” and post your sale on the first 10 sites you find.

9. Stage your items. Make sure everything you’re selling is clean and in good condition. If you have something broken or missing pieces, maybe offer it free to a good home with a disclaimer about the condition. If you’re selling something that takes batteries, include the batteries (half used batteries will work great), so people can see it works properly. Have an electrical outlet or extension cord handy to test out items that need to be plugged in. Organize your wares in a pleasing manner, don’t just leave things piled in boxes. Group like items together. Place the things men like closer to the curb (tools, electronics) - this will entice more couples to stop.

10. Ambiance. Talk to your customers, but don’t talk their ears off. Offer free/sell refreshments - coffee, lemonade, bottled water, sodas, cookies, doughnuts, etc. Play some music at low volume to make people more comfortable (Heavy metal is not recommended).

11. Have fun.

Good luck!

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