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Yard Sale Season: Dos and Don’ts for The Perfect Sale

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May 8, 2012

With spring cleaning comes the inevitable pile of items in the garage. Clothing, small electronics, kitchen items, you name it – it’s probably in a box or pile stuffed away out of sight. Why not turn your used items into money with a yard sale? If you’ve never had a yard sale before, follow these simple steps to make it simple and successful.


  • Do plan on having a sale on a Saturday. It’s the day after most people get paid and the most popular one for yard sale goers.
  • Don’t have the sale on a Holiday weekend. Though you can get some traffic, most people have plans and won’t be hitting up sales.
  • Don’t have the sale if there is too high a chance of rain. Not only will hardly anyone show up, rain can ruin items like books and just make the whole day no fun for anyone.
  • Do know your prices. If you have never had a sale before, it’s best to visit a few and get some ideas on pricing. If you see shoppers coming and leaving empty-handed and fast, you can almost assume it’s overpriced. Conversely, if they have arms or boxes full, I’d say the pricing sounds very fair.
  • Do price everything. People prefer seeing prices since not everyone likes to ask. Once you’ve gone through your items and sorted into various piles, add neon stickers with the prices. Some stores even sell stickers with pre-written prices, making it easier to just slap them on.
  • I don’t recommend ” everything for a dollar tables” or “five dollar tables” as some sneaky customers can switch things up and it’s hard to remember where you placed some items. An exception is if you do a simple thing like “All children’s games $1.00 each” in a very visible sign.
  • If you have larger items like furniture or electronics, you can go to eBay or Craigslist and see what similar items are going for. Then price yours a bit less, since this IS a yard sale.


  • Do advertise. You don’t need to pay for local ads anymore since Craigslist makes it easy to place free ones. You can even add pictures and descriptions of some larger items. Place the ad on Thursday night for a Saturday sale. Don’t forget your address and directions.
  • Do put set times in your ad unless you want people knocking at your door at 7am. Write 8AM sharp until 4 pm. Or some hours like that. Remember to be completely set up by that time. Mornings are traditionally the busiest so be well fed and ready to roll.
  • Don’t put one ad online and expect a huge crowd. Though there are many people who head out with their lists, there are just as many who happen to be driving nearby and would love a yard sale spontaneous stop.
  • Buy neon card stock at the dollar store, use a thick black sharpie and hang as many local signs as you can. I usually hang about 20, on all surrounding roads and corners. Simply put “Yard Sale!” and the date, address, and times. Bring a hammer and nails and go around the night before, as long as no rain is predicted. I draw a large black arrow as I’m hanging the signs to show drivers which way to turn.


  • Do have change and keep it on your body with a hip bag or apron. Start with at least $30 in singles, a few dollars in change and change for a few 20’s.
  • Do enlist at least 2 people to help you set up and to stay and help with the sale – from setting up, to helping customers, to making lunch. Best not to try it alone.
  • Do organize. Have kids items all together, perhaps on sheets. Use sturdy tables for decor. Keep jewelry and smaller items near where you are sitting to keep an eye on them (unfortunately there can always be a few unsavory folks that show up). Keep all sports items together, in baskets or on sheets. Have books binding side up in cardboard boxes for easy browsing. Try to hang clothing or at least have items in bins, sorted by size.
  • I’ve seen people have their kids set up with a table selling cookies or brownies and lemonade. It keeps your kids occupied for the day and on top of that, they can earn a nice little profit as well as try out their sales skills.
  • Do make lunch the night before so one of you can run in and grab the sandwich tray and get back outside ASAP.
  • If you are having the sale on a lawn near garden statues or sports equipment you own, throw a “not for sale” sign on them to save you answering the same question all day.
  • Do have some paper or plastic bags on hand or perhaps small boxes. Also newspaper to wrap glass items.


  • Expect that some people like to haggle. If you are firm about an item, you can write “firm” on the price. But most often, be open to a little negotiation so people think they are getting a bargain. If you have a great chair you’d like $20 for, mark it at $25 and expect an offer. If by the last 2 hours, it hasn’t sold, you can reduce it or save it to place on Craigslist separately.
  • Do greet customers with a smile or a quick hello but then stay busy. No one likes to browse when they are feeling watched.
  • Keep a pen and notebook handy. Some people even write down every sale. Not always easy, but if you are not swamped, it’s certainly do-able.

Sound like a lot of work? Well, yes and no. I’m a veteran of running about 25 yard sales myself and the first one can be the most intimidating for sure. Follow these simple do’s and don’ts and it’s sure to be a success.

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